The state’s venture capital fund has finalized a deal to invest $250,000 in Aither Chemicals.
The funding from West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust (WVJIT) will enable Aither to pursue plans to build plants to develop petrochemicals derived from ethane extracted from Marcellus Shale.
“In Marcellus Shale and the byproduct ethane gas, West Virginia has a natural resource with tremendous economic potential,” said Keith Burdette, state Secretary of Commerce and WVJIT chairman. “Aither’s approach to convert ethane into petrochemicals will enhance our capability to develop this resource, retaining and creating jobs in the state.”
Andy Zulauf, WVJIT’s executive director, added that the WVJIT Board wants to help provide the opportunity for Aither to pursue additional funding and production partners in this new energy and chemical economy.
Aither uses an integrated process for creating chemical products derived from ethylene. Aither's process is designed to work on a smaller scale with less start-up costs than traditional steam cracker plants.
“We will use West Virginia’s natural gas resources to produce ethane-based products near the source of the raw material, said Aither CEO Leonard Dolhert. “With Aither as a local provider, West Virginia’s chemical companies will be able to reduce shipping costs.”
The company’s immediate goal is to build an alliance of investors, of which WVJIT is key, Dolhert said. Aither intends to repay the investment, with a good financial return, and create jobs at the same time.
Aither is a spin-off from Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center (MATRIC), a nonprofit research institute which focuses on creating and commercializing innovations in chemical, energy and environmental technologies.