Categorized | Business

Big Island Carbon looking for buyer

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Big Island Carbon, a high-tech company that plans to turn macadamia nut shells into granular activated carbon, is seeking a new backer.

According to reports, Big Island Carbon filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this month in Delware, the state where the company is incorporated.

It listed secured debt of $16.4 million and $395,684 owed to creditors, including $150,000 to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, which owned the four-acre plant site in Kawaihae’s Kaie Hana Industrial Park.

All of the company’s two dozen employees – including chief executive officer Rick Vidgen – were laid off last month.

The company is seeking new investors and funding to finish the Kawaihae factory.

Big Island Carbon began building the plant in 2009, with a price tag of $20 million, and funded by Denham Capital. That figure reportedly has risen to $50 million.

The company plans to turn macadamia nut shells into granular activated carbon and bio-oil, which has multiple uses, Vidgen said in previous interviews. For example, the charcoal product would be effective in soaking up ocean oil spills or could be woven into HazMat suits to protect emergency responders.

During last year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Honolulu, Big Island Carbon was recognized for its “unique, leading and cutting-edge innovations in product development, technology, marketing or delivery.”

The company was named the Hawaii County winner and was nominated along with Big Island Abalone Corp., Hawaii Preparatory Academy and Imiloa Astronomy Center.

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