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Fast Talk: Coal's Metamorphosis Man
Photograph by Saverio Truglia
Photograph by Saverio Truglia


Andrew Perlman

Founder and CEO, Greatpoint Energy
Chicago, Illinois

Andrew Perlman, 32, wants to turn America's coal into what he calls Bluegas—99.5% methane. His company, backed by venture firm Kleiner Perkins, has a demonstration plant in Des Plaines, Illinois, and hopes to offer a commercial product by 2011.

"I was in high tech during the Internet boom, but I've never seen excitement, buzz, and money like what's going on in the energy business today. There's a huge opportunity in coal. For a lot of people, coal is a dirty word, but the United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal—and it's not going away, no matter how many windmills or solar systems you plaster the country with.

Our company has a new catalyst that cleanly turns coal into high-quality natural gas that can burn in your kitchen. This is not just an environmental breakthrough but an economic one. We don't need state subsidies to make a profit."

A version of this article appeared in the October 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.