Member Spotlight – Wakefield BioChar
Founded in 2014 by the late Dr. Thomas R. Marrero and his twin sons, Tom and Tony, Wakefield are pioneers of the circular economy via their specialized production of a clean, sustainable carbon called biochar. As a chemical engineering professor at the University of Missouri, Dr. Marrero devoted much of his career to advancing green engineering. Though the term is ubiquitous today, in the 1990’s Tom (son) was on the first research team to coin “biochar” while completing his chemistry doctorate. While Tom was working on his PhD, Tony was completing his bachelors in marketing and on his way to co-founding a successful web startup.
The substance “biochar” is thoroughly researched and its creation and use date to ancient times, having been discovered in early human settlements in the Amazon rainforest. Biochar is made by heating biomass, usually wood, without oxygen present. The process locks in carbon content, resulting in a material not unlike charcoal, but finer and lacking hydrocarbons.
The inherent benefits of biochar are to the soil. Unique properties such as a large surface area act as a “coral reef” for important microbes, improve water holding capacity and soil aeration, and prevent nutrient bleaching. Biochar positively impacts global warming by returning carbon to the soil and has been identified as one of the top 100 solutions to reversing climate change by New York Times Bestseller, Project Drawdown.
Thousands of years after the Amazonians created “terra preta,” Biochar is still popular as a soil conditioner in landscaping and agriculture. These markets have served as the foundation of Wakefield’s business, and you can find their products in all 50 US states, Puerto Rico, Canada and South Korea at retailers such as Home Depot and Target.
Wakefield’s innovative history and technical expertise have enabled them to build upon their success in Soil Health and expand into two additional high-growth areas:
-First, Wakefield has begun serving markets for raw material inputs to manufacturing with a trade-secret process that utilizes pure, sustainably grown feedstock to produce a cleaner, more consistent biochar at variable particle sizes. Wakefield offers a sustainable replacement for inputs such as carbon black (used in tires and dyes) and polymer fillers (used in plastics). Wakefield is currently serving customers in small quantities from their production facility in Valdosta, GA, but LOIs are in place for substantial volume in 2021.
-Second, Wakefield has leveraged its experience in biochar conversion into multi-year “Beneficial Reuse” contracts with forest products manufacturers (one top 3 in US). Whereas typically this waste biomass is landfilled, Wakefield can compete at cost with traditional waste management and be compensated for obtaining quality feedstock for its other businesses.
Through its Soil Health, Advanced Materials, and Beneficial Reuse divisions, Wakefield is rapidly transitioning to industrial scale with proven systems and technology. Management is seeking $2M to capitalize on immediate B2B opportunities with established, creditworthy customers via investment in equipment, staff, and marketing.
This is the moment in history when the global community is recognizing the need for urgent action on reducing the adverse effects of climate change. Wakefield has recognized the call to action and is ideally positioned to be nimble, resourceful, and responsive to market needs for practical, impactful solutions.
For more information please contact Tony Marrero at (573)529-9362 or [email protected]