Dr. Durham is a successful serial entrepreneur having founded and started up six companies, all of which are still operating today. Each company was focused on advancing cost-effective technologies to reduce the environmental impacts associated with electrical generating facilities. These companies include:
- Advanced Emissions Solutions
- ADA Carbon Solutions
- ADA Technologies
- Soap Creek Energy
- Tinuum Services
Dr. Durham is no longer involved in the operation and management of these companies and dedicated solely on the growth of his newest startup Soap Creek Energy.
Advanced Emissions Solutions (NASDAQ: ADES) commercialized environmental technologies to measure and reduce emissions from power plants and industrial sources. The company pioneered technologies for mercury emissions from power plants and was the market leader in providing systems to power plants for complying with EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS). Currently 80% of the power plants in the country are using a technology initiated by ADES.
Dr. Durham founded ADES in 1997 and took the company public on NASDAQ in 2003. During his tenure as CEO, he effectively grew ADES to a market cap in excess of $500 million.
Tinuum and Tinuum Services
In 2005, Dr. Durham founded a spinout company, Clean Coal Solutions, to develop technology in response to an opportunity established by Congress in the 2004 American Jobs Creation Act. This bill provided a ten-year tax credit for pre-combustion coal treatment technologies capable of reducing emissions of NOx and mercury. Over the next five years Dr. Durham led a development effort that resulted in technologies that were effective in three different types of power plants (cyclone boilers, circulating fluidized bed boilers, and pulverized coal boilers).
To help finance the technical efforts, Dr. Durham established a partnership with NexGen Resources and Republic Financial. In parallel to the technical and financing efforts, Dr. Durham worked with Congress to expand the opportunity for additional plant sites which resulted in legislation to provide a one year extension to install equipment at additional power plants at the end of 2010. With this expansion opportunity, which required additional financial resources, Goldman Sachs was brought in as 15% joint venture partner.
Taking advantage of the extension in 2011, an aggressive expansion plan resulted in a total of 28 facilities being built and qualified. Clean Coal Solutions Services was started as an engineering and operations company to run the 28 facilities. The companies now operates as part of the Tinuum Group. All three of the technologies that were developed for this opportunity by Dr. Durham and his team proved to be successful so that the facilities are cable of reducing emissions from over 100 million tons per year of coal (10-15% of all coal burned in the US). At this level, these facilities will produce between $1-2 Billion in cash flows for the JV partners.
ADA Carbon Solutions
From 2001 to 2006, ADES was pioneering the use of activated carbon (AC) as the market leading technology for controlling emissions from coal-fired boilers to meet pending EPA regulations. Dr. Durham recognized that this would result in a significant increase in the market for activated carbon and would quickly exceed current production capacity of the existing AC suppliers. Therefore, he began a process to build the world’s largest single activated carbon production facility to supply AC products to the power industry industry for mercury control and to municipalities for cleaning up drinking water.
Starting from just a goal, he put together a team to evaluate potential plant sites, and then began to simultaneously permit and design the plant. To pay for construction of the plant, ADA Carbon Solutions was incorporated and $400 Million of financing secured from a combination of private equity from Energy Capital Partners and private placement of ADES common stock.
Financing closed at the end of October, 2008 in spite of the international financial crisis that stated that month with the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Construction on the plant, located in Red River Parish, Louisiana was initiated in late 2008. To provide feedstock for the AC plant, the company opened the Five Forks Lignite Mine, only the third coal mine operating in Louisiana. The plant started production in the summer of 2010 and continues to play a significant role in the mercury control market place.
In 1985, Dr. Durham left his position on the research faculty at the University of Denver to start ADA Technologies. ADA conducted research and development under contracts with organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA, National Science Foundation, and the Electric Power Institute. Competing for funding against the top scientists in the country, Dr. Durham was able to secure more than $40 million in contracts. While working on one of these R&D contracts with the Department of Energy, Dr. Durham developed a new chemical for improving the performance of electrostatic precipitators for collecting fly ash from Western coals. Recognizing the commercial potential for this product, he sold his interest in ADA Technologies and started up what ultimately ended up as Advanced Emissions Solutions to bring this product to market.