Big Island Carbon files for bankruptcy

By Erin Voegele | December 07, 2012

Hawaii-based Big Island Carbon LLC filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of Delaware last month. According to archived information published by the Hawaii State Energy Office, the company intended to convert macadamia nut shells into biobased activated carbon, which could be used for air, water and chemical purification. The Energy Office also noted that the shells could also be converted into biofuels, which when blended with diesel, could be used to power the company’s facility.

In Sept. 2010, Big Island Carbon was awarded a $5 million USDA Business and Industry loan guarantee to support construction of the project. The award was made under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At that time, the USDA noted that the end use applications targeted for biobased carbon included the ultra capacitor (hybrid car power units) market, catalyst support market and chemical and pharmaceutical markets. In addition, gas and biofuels created from the conversation of macadamia nut shells was expected to be used to offset the project’s energy needs.

The Hawaii Department of Health issued a request for public comments on the company’s draft air permit in 2011. According to that document, the company’s technology utilized a pyrolysis reactor and kiln activation system to convert the shells into activated carbon. Information published by Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle’s office in 2009 specifies that the $20 million plant was expected to convert 10,000 tons of shells into 1,000 tons of activated carbon per year. The facility was under development on four acres of land in the Kaie Hana Industrial Park at Kawaihae.

According to documents filed with the bankruptcy court, Big Island Carbon has an estimated 50 to 99 creditors. In addition, the papers show that the company has approximately $23.48 million in assets and roughly $16.82 in liabilities. The law firm of Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP is representing Big Island Carbon in the filing.