Detail: Vadxx Energy is an Akron-based “clean-tech” company that converts waste materials like tires and plastic scrap back into their original components, such as oil, char and natural gas. Vadxx Chief Technology Officer William L. Ullom, III and CEO James W. Garrett share decades’ worth of experiences in environmental technology and the oil and gas industries. Together, their dream is to transform petroleum-based waste back into crude oil and natural gas through an environmentally friendly and cost-effective process.
Growth Challenge: In 2009, Vadxx licensed the technology needed for his waste conversion process and planned to move a New Jersey synthetic crude oil pilot plant to their Akron plant. However, quality investments were needed to accomplish this move. Ullom and Garrett reached out to the economic development community in Northeast Ohio and found MAGNET, who helped Vadxx Energy with more than just raising funds.
How We Worked With Them: MAGNET helped Vadxx find and apply for an Edison Technology Grant (E-TAG). With this state-supported funding, Vadxx hired MAGNET’s Product Design & Development (PDD) team to consult on how to manage the logistics of Vadxx’s continuous waste feeding process and how to scale up the pilot plant by a factor of 10 in order to make an affordable & commercially viable production unit.
With 3D renderings and cost and efficiency-based revisions of the full-scale system, Vadxx now had the essential pieces to present to potential funders and investors.
Outcome: By the end of 2011, Vadxx reached an agreement with Rockwell Automation Global Solutions to complete the front-end engineering and design work necessary to commercialize Vadxx’s exclusive processes, as well as a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Houston-based Greenstar Recycling to provide raw material for Vadxx’s first commercial plastics-to-oil unit. Ultimately, Vadxx found assistance from at least 13 funders and partners, including MAGNET, and the company’s first three units began producing oil in late 2012 and early 2013.
Jim Garrett has been CEO of Vadxx since its founding in 2009. A Northeast Ohio native and CWRU graduate, Garrett has held engineering and managerial positions in several major oil and gas companies over the past 25 years.
Garrett and Ullom have a unique collaboration style based on their shared passion for the potential of Vadxx’s innovative technology.
A tabletop display shows some of the kinds of industrial refuse that Vadxx can use to feed its waste-to-oil process.
Dozens of test vials hold samples of the Vadxx end product: sweet light crude oil.
(Left to right) Fred Connelly, plant manager; Julius Lee, technician; and Jeff Jatich, project manager are key Vadxx employees who help run the pilot facility in Akron that is proving the Vadxx technology concept.