Viroment - Radically Cutting the Cost of Sludge Handling

“Bottomline, our sh*t doesn’t stink,” exclaims our CEO  Paul Koenig, Chief Executive Officer at Viroment. “Those are technical terms. We take the smell out of modern farming, by removing sludge and waste from previously-used farm water and decreasing the cost to dispose of those contaminants while making the entire farming experience more pleasant. ”

Anyone who’s road-tripped past a large (think industrial) cattle ranch on a hot mid-summer day knows how that smell can seep into the upholstery of your enclosed and recirculating-AC SUV, staying with you for miles despite multiple febreeze dustings.

Paul grew up on his family’s “Century Award-Winning” farm in central Minnesota where he admits, “I always thought when something’s more sustainable it costs more.”

“What’s wild is when the true economics of sustainability hit you, you realize that it should cost you less, whether that’s long, mid, or short-term, but with the right design,” says Paul, “technology innovation should always be increasing our balance with nature and decreasing the cost to do so.”

In Paul’s words, Viroment is a sustainable, profitable farming innovation that is easy to use, costs less, and significantly reduces the impact on the environment.

“It’s a similar shift in approach as single-sort recycling. Before single-sort, people who wanted to recycle had to request bins or cans from their city. They had to separate newspapers from cardboard from glass and metal. Newspapers had to be bundled, cans had to be crushed, cardboard is broken down…, it wasn’t easy, it cost more to go to the recycling center than they’d pay you for your effort. It discouraged recycling which was worse for the environment,” Paul explains. “Then, single-sort happened. You essentially get a second garbage can with a different color lid and anything with a recycle-logo on it can all go in the same can. It’s easy to do, it costs less and it’s better for the environment. That’s the model here.”

Large volume livestock facilities have traditionally been shipping sludge, slurry, and waste off-site for disposal. Up to 97% of that volume is contaminated water which is very expensive to ship.

At Viroment we’re changing all of that. Here’s how.

Viroment’s Sustainable Barn Technology

Imagine for a moment a traditional farm system. Animals eat, evacuate waste, which is then collected to a part of the property where it waits for removal periodically once or twice a year (That’s a lot of flies and a really bad smell). The stored sludge gases created greenhouse emissions throughout the year and in some cases, these collection lagoons are leached into the water table. Or, it’s all being stored in tanks and hauled out regularly as a slurry application on crops.

Without saying, there’s a negative impact on the environment with how the industry manages animal waste. This waste causes not only water and air pollution but also poses danger when it is sprayed on fields and is not appropriately disinfected by the sun.

We saw these huge problems and knew there had to be a better solution. So our team started working relentlessly to innovate an industry that’s been stagnant in this department for years.

Fast forward to today, Viroment is providing an on-site solution which separates waste solids and filters the water for secondary on-site uses. In technical-terms, raw effluent is drawn into a vacuum drum dryer which uses suction to pull the liquid into a central duct. There it is rotated through a filtration / dewater zone allowing the solids to form an ultrathin cake. At density, a blade cuts the solids, or cake, away from the utter drum where it is separated into a container for shipping, approximately 1/100th of the volume.

The dry waste is then pelletized and can be used as fertilizer or fed to fish in aquaponics creating a closed-looped system that is more cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable.

The bottom line is we’re addressing the mess at its source.

Our innovative technology is reducing wastewater sludge footprints by up to 99% and creating clean reuse water and a valuable multi-use bio-cake.

What Farmers (and Investors) Are Saying…

Claudia Hale, an early investor in Viroment shared, “My grandparents had dairy cows and it was a big deal to remove the manure from the barns every day. Viroment would have made their business a lot more productive if they didn’t have to spend all the time with the cleanup. The future for farmers will be brighter with Viroment barns!”

Viroment is a commercial farm partner primarily providing low-cost sustainable solutions to industrial-scale problems. Our modern barn is a “set-it and forget-it” installation which reduces shipping costs from three cents per gallon of waste to a tenth of a penny to process and dispose of and eliminates countless contaminants from the farming environment. Most importantly, it’s easy to use, lower cost, and better for the environment.

Another supporter, Alex Schroeder, pointed out, “Environmentally sound farming and job creation is a no-brainer. Looking forward to joining along for the growth!”

“Following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, our team and technology were funded by FEMA to reduce the footprint of Houston’s water treatment facility. We’ve been able to research in coordination with Rice University there as well,” Paul beams.

We’re using this research to fuel our mission to build 350 modern barns over the next three to five years. “Each of these barns is roughly $5 million apiece to build. Each house about 13,000 growing spaces. And each of those growing spaces turns over around 2.1 times per year. So it’s almost 30,000 hogs, annually. That’s a lot of protein that’s being produced each year by each barn. And we’ve got the initial commitments to hit that number fairly easily,” shares Paul.

Related: Viroment Project at the Leachate Landfill

The Viroment Founding Team

Our CEO Paul is an award-winning inventor who’s traveled to Beijing China to participate in the historic US Commercial Services Trade Mission event held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing China. Viroment executed contracts for $800M with Hangzhou Iron and Steel and $100M with Guanye Guangdong Environmental Protection Company Limited; both of which are Chinese Government State-Owned Companies.

Related: Watch Paul on CGTN America Discuss the US Business Delegation with President Trump in China

To see the overarching vision of Viroment through, Paul partnered up with highly experienced local professionals.

Russell Vering, serving as Vice President, is a National Pork Producer Council board member representing the pork industry as a delegate in foreign trade missions to Asia, Mexico & the United Kingdom. Russell is a third-generation feed mill owner with long-standing relationships that he and his father built over the years with some of the largest protein producers in the country.

“He also understands technology. He’s built barns, owned barns. Knows barn builders in the region. He also has a relationship with a $700 million cooperative that co-owns his feed mills with him. He brings the strength and the resources of the cooperative with him into the deal,” Paul explains.

Chris Reimers worked for Archer-Daniels-Midland and then a large manure displacement company. “It was his job to look for land that fits the exact criteria we’re now seeking,” Paul describes. “His firm built facilities all over the world. In the course of his job Chris met and developed relationships with property owners all over the region. Chris has an understanding of where we’re going to build our next barns.” Chris is a land and nutrient expert who also served as a critical path specialist for Costco’s Billion Bird project.

The Next Steps

“It’s an exciting time for us. We have three main initiatives in front of us. From the research and testing we’re doing in Houston we plan to roll out a product for the Sewage Treatment industry. We’re building and leasing these barns starting in Nebraska. And we’re servicing these agreements in China. All big steps to take at once, and we’re just the team to do it.”

Related: Viroment Project Municipal Sludge at the City of Houston

Viroment is conducting an equity crowdfunding campaign on Wefunder to identify people who want to partner with us. If you want to get involved in creating cleaner air and water for future generations, then we encourage you to get involved as an investor!

Ultimately the Viroment team has executive-level corporate experience, but we’re also farmers from the midwest who want to see other farmers have a chance, create a healthier planet, and happy hogs in their pens.

We hope you join our movement!

Invest in Viroment!

Reach out if we can answer any questions or if you need support with anything. We’re happy to help!