Company founded by Medina native secures $17 million to advance biodiesel, decarbonize transportation sector

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 22 April 2023 at 3:56 pm

Provided photo: Colin Huwyler, a Medina native, poses with the Vector system he developed which enables large vehicles to burn bio-diesel fuel, making them 90% carbon free. Optimus Technologies, is located in Pittsburgh. Two years ago, the company was awarded a million-dollar grant from NYSERDA to open a plant in the Southern Tier, and this week Huwyler announced a $17.8 million Series A funding round.

Pittsburgh based Optimus Technologies, a company founded by Medina native Colin Huwyler to decarbonize the largest and most challenging sectors of the transportation industry, has announced a $17.8 million Series A funding round led by Mitsui and Company of Tokyo.

The round included participation from one of North America’s largest commercial fleets, Chevron Renewable Energy Group, and Pittsburgh regional investors, including Idea Foundry, Innovation Works, Richard King Mellon Foundation and Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.

Colin, a 2002 graduate of Medina High School and son of Monty Huwyler and Bobbi Huwyler, both of Medina, first got interested in bio-diesel while a teenager at Medina High School. His parents went to Canada to buy him a diesel car, as they were not sold in the United States. Using fryer oil he collected locally, he transformed the Volkswagen diesel to burn fryer oil using the Vector System he developed.

After high school, Huwyler attended one semester at the University of Buffalo, then went on to form Optimus Technologies in Harrisburg, Pa., of which he is now CEO. The company is now based in Pittsburgh and has become a leader in the field of biodiesel technology.

Two years ago, he was awarded a $1 million grant by NYSERDA to open a plant in the Southern Tier.

His latest award will fund the further development of Optimus’ Vector system, an advanced fuel system technology which enables heavy-duty diesel engines to operate on 100% biodiesel, a biogenic near-zero carbon fuel. Heavy duty-transportation sectors are extremely challenging and costly to deploy electric or hydrogen solutions which require total replacement of existing assets, buildout of completely new infrastructure and a fundamental shift in global energy production to renewable, Huwyler explained in a press release this week.

Conversely, Optimus Technologies’ Vector system seamlessly integrates into existing engines currently in operation, or can be built into new engines as they are manufactured, leveraging the foundational diesel engine for the transition to a low-carbon future.

Huwyler founded Optimus Technologies in 2010 with the mission of combating global climate change by developing solutions to decarbonize the largest and most challenging transportation and industrial sectors. It released the Vector System commercially in 2018. Since then, the company has deployed the technology with leading commercial fleets, including ADM, and public fleets including Washington, D.C. and the city of Madison, Wis., accumulating millions of miles of successful operation.

“We have sold my technology to cities all across the United States,” Colin told his mother Bobbi today.  “Now we are expanding into Japan. We are thrilled to announce this new partnership with Mitsui and deepen our existing relationship with Chevron Renewable Energy Group. This strategic investment allows us to accelerate our mission to decarbonize the transportation sector. More Importantly, this funding enables Optimus to immediately scale the delivery of carbon reductions at a time when eliminating emissions can’t come soon enough.”

Bobbi said Optimus plans to hire 24 additional experts at its Pittsburgh location in the field of bio-diesel.

“Mitsui and Company will contribute to the development of economies and societies in many countries across the world and to deliver practical solutions to the global challenges we face, such as mitigating and adapting to climate change through our global and wide-ranging business activities,” said Hirohide Yoshida, general manager of construction and transportation vehicle solutions division at Mitsui and Company. “Optimus’ Vector system technology is an innovative and practical solution for reducing carbon emission in transportation and heavy-duty diesel operations.”

The collaboration between Optimus Technologies and Mitsui will not only accelerate Optimus’ deployments in North America, but also allow an expansion into a number of strategic international markets, according to the press release.

Optimus Technologies unique approach to reduce carbon emissions is applicable across a wide range of industries, from long-haul trucking to maritime and rail. The Vector system enables customers to reduce their carbon emissions by more than 90% with a cost-effective solution that leverages existing assets and infrastructure to reduce emissions today. With this new funding, Optimus will dramatically expand its team in Pittsburgh and ramp up production of the Vector system to meet the ever-increasing global decarbonization demands of fleets and governments.