Sapphire Technologies: How This Company Is Driving Global Decarbonization

By Amit Chowdhry • Nov 9, 2023

Sapphire Technologies is a company that is driving global decarbonization. And the company’s team of experts develops and manufactures energy recovery systems that harness the power of gas expansion to produce reliable and clean electricity. Pulse 2.0 interviewed Sapphire Technologies CEO Freddie Sarhan to learn more.

Freddie Sarhan’s Background

Freddie Sarhan

From a young age, Sarhan has always been captivated by fast cars, motorcycles, and airplanes – anything that embodies exciting technology. Sarhan said:

“This curiosity sparked my interest in exploring and comprehending the inner workings of machines.”

“Throughout my professional journey, I have gained a wealth of experience in sales management, business development, and global operations management. With a diverse background encompassing industries such as aviation, energy, and various industrial markets, I have developed expertise in overseeing both short and long-cycle businesses. By effectively managing costs and prioritizing exceptional customer service, I have consistently achieved outstanding financial results and generated cash flow.”

“Moreover, my career trajectory has been shaped by a profound passion for the environment. I have always sought to devote my energy and expertise to contribute to business and technological solutions for climate-related challenges.”

Primary Responsibilities At Sapphire

What are Sarhan’s primary responsibilities at Sapphire? Sarhan added:

“In my role as the CEO of Sapphire Technologies, I am dedicated to driving the company’s business growth and continuously enhancing our processes to optimize the effectiveness of our sustainable technology solutions. A significant aspect of my responsibilities involves strategizing the company’s decisions to maximize output and benefit both our business and the environment. This includes carefully evaluating which partnerships and engagements align with our mission and will contribute to the ongoing adoption of decarbonization technologies. Notably, recent collaborations with Tallgrass, Evolve Energy, TB Global Technologies Ltd, and CNX Resources have been instrumental, as each of these companies plays a pivotal role in advancing the use of decarbonization technologies.”

Formation Of Sapphire Technologies

How did the idea for Sapphire Technologies come together? Sarhan shared:

“Sapphire Technologies was founded with a clear vision in mind – to spearhead global decarbonization efforts and revolutionize energy generation and usage worldwide. Our team saw tremendous waste, and we had a solution to convert it into usable electricity. Our ultimate objective was to reshape the current energy landscape through innovative technological solutions and lay the groundwork for a sustainable future. Our collective mission drove us to build Sapphire Technologies into what it is today – a company dedicated not only to mitigating the detrimental impacts of climate change but also to creating a world that is more prosperous for all.”

Favorite Memory

What has been your favorite memory working in the energy industry so far? Sarhan reflected:

“Through my involvement in the energy industry, I have been fortunate to immerse myself in diverse corners of the world, gaining a deep appreciation for different cultures and perspectives. As a leader, I firmly believe in the value of embracing a global mindset, both personally and professionally. My travels have broadened my understanding of how business interacts with and impacts various regions, enabling me to respect and honor the distinct traditions and nuances that each culture embodies.”

Challenges Faced

What challenges has Sarhan faced in building the company and has the current macroeconomic climate affected your company? Sarhan acknowledged:  

“The climate technology industry faces challenges in adopting new technologies, primarily due to the need for costly infrastructure upgrades. However, there is a positive aspect to this as well. Government funding, facilitated by policies like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), offers a framework of support through funding, incentives, and regulations for the climate tech sector and climate stability solutions. This encourages investments from businesses, venture capitalists, and individuals, helping to mitigate the initial costs involved in developing and deploying clean technologies.”

Core Products

What are Sapphire’s core products and features? Sarhan explained:

“Sapphire Technologies develops and manufactures energy recovery systems such as turboexpanders that harness the power of gas expansion to produce reliable and clean electricity – reducing global carbon footprint. Our systems are designed to convert energy wasted in pressure reduction processes into electric power without interrupting operations. By recovering this wasted pressure energy, we help companies maximize plant efficiencies, improve productivity, reduce carbon emissions, offset electrical costs, and generate cash flow.”

“Sapphire Technologies’ FreeSpin In-line Turboexpander uses zero fuel and produces zero emissions. The simplicity of our system design enables a cost-effective solution for power generation. Our turboexpander runs on magnetic bearings and is hermetically sealed into a single unit, eliminating the need for a gearbox and a lubrication system. It does not require dynamic seals, which often cause environmental hazards upon failure.”

“The high-speed permanent magnet motor generator is simply constructed and operates with very little losses. The highly efficient motor generator has variable speed and load capabilities and provides a greater power density and a smaller footprint than conventional systems. Active magnetic bearings offer significant advantages over conventional bearings in terms of footprint, operating efficiency, losses, remote monitoring capabilities, power consumption and reliable performance in harsh environments.”

Evolution Of Sapphire’s Technology

How has the company’s technology evolved since launching? Sarhan noted:

“Since our establishment in 2021, we have primarily maintained our foundational technologies. However, we have made product updates to cater to different site conditions. For instance, when we initially launched the FreeSpin In-line Turboexpander, it could operate at a maximum of 30 BAR (30 times atmospheric pressure). Since then, we have successfully shipped products rated at 110 BAR, and we are currently working on a next-generation product that can handle pressures exceeding 200 BAR. Previously, we required “dry” process gas, but by the end of 2023, we will introduce two units that are “waterproofed” and capable of operating with saturated process gas, allowing us to expand into applications where liquid is present in the gas stream.”

“In addition, we are currently testing alternative designs and materials to resist corrosive impurities in the process, such as hydrogen sulfide. This will enable us to enter applications where the gas is less pure, which is a departure from our previous requirement for high quality “sweet” process gas with minimal impurities. We have also begun development on our hydrogen system that can be used to harness wasted energy in the hydrogen infrasturcture and liquefaction process.”

“Throughout all these advancements, our strategy remains consistent: maintaining our foundational technologies while incorporating upgrades to meet more demanding conditions.”

Significant Milestones

What have been some of the company’s most significant milestones? Sarhan cited:

“Sapphire Technologies has recently raised $10 million in a Series B funding round, thanks to our strategic partners. This funding will enable us to further expand our turboexpander technology on a global level.”

“Notably, Sapphire Technologies has experienced substantial growth in its customer base over the past year. We anticipate increasing our turboexpander production by more than 400% by the year’s end. Additionally, our team has grown by an impressive 220% in terms of employee count over the last year.”

“Furthermore, we have partnered with Tallgrass, a leading US energy infrastructure company, to pursue a nationwide clean energy project to install over 72 turboexpander systems over the next three years. Once installed, these turboexpanders will generate enough power to offset up to 144,000-ton CO2e per year. Evolve Energy, a leading critical infrastructure and data center service company, has developed modular data centers that will consume the clean electricity produced by the turboexpanders – illustrating how even remote project locations can benefit from turboexpander installations.”

“Other notable partners include CNX Resources, to establish an unprecedented clean energy process at a site in Appalachia. Additionally, our collaboration with TB Global Technologies Ltd. has resulted in the successful commissioning of two FreeSpin In-line Turboexpanders at the Yokkaichi Terminal of Toho Gas. This installation generates clean electricity as intended, with a capacity to produce over 400 kilowatts of power and up to 3.5 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually. Furthermore, this technology has the potential to offset more than 2,700 tons* of carbon dioxide equivalent.”

“Most recently, Business Intelligence has recognized Sapphire Technologies as the recipient of the prestigious Product of the Year award.”

Customer Success Stories

After asking Sarhan about customer success stories, he highlighted:

“The collaborative commissioning of the FreeSpin In-line Turboexpanders (FIT) with TB Global Technologies Ltd. marks a significant achievement, introducing cost-effective solutions to the Japanese market for generating clean electricity and substantially reducing CO2 emissions. This milestone is particularly crucial in our current climate instability.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates the company from its competition? Sarhan concluded:

“Sapphire’s revolutionary technology is ultimately unrivaled. From a technological opportunity, Sapphire’s Permanent Magnet (PM) Generator incorporates a patented rotor topology that provides up to 98% electromagnetic (EM) efficiency. Unlike competing turboexpander systems that require external cooling, Sapphire Technologies’ equipment requires no external cooling; instead, the cool, expanded gas passing through the FIT housing provides integrated heat removal from the PM generator’s rotor and stator.” 

“Additionally, Sapphire’s system is modular and compact, allowing for the system to be adopted in mass by the natural gas industry to help continually drive the industry forward. This modular design not only allows for installation convenience, but minimizes the system’s capital cost. These benefits encourage natural gas operators to adopt our systems.”