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Techno-economic analysis

A techno-economic model represents your best current understanding of a technology. It combines lab data, engineering parameters, and costs to give a picture of your technology's economics at a commercial scale. Techno-economic models can be used to evaluate economic feasibility, guide R&D decisions, assess and mitigate risk, and manage development plans.

Burk TechnoEconomics approaches techno-economic modeling with a software developer’s mindset. Our models are user-friendly, modular, and clearly documented. With the techniques, software, resources, and templates that we've developed over 10+ years of practice and study, we can quickly and effectively help companies answer their most important questions.

"The model Chris built for us went beyond a simple capital or expense estimate, and instead gave us a tool for gaining immediate insights over a range of scale-up scenarios. We would recommend any process-driven startup work with Chris to model the economics of their scaled process."

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Techno-economics for technology developers

As a technology developer, your resources are limited and you can't afford to spend them pursuing dead ends or inefficient development plans. A good techno-economic model is more than a one-off cost estimate, it's a tool for understanding your technology and the factors driving its economics. It lets you objectively pinpoint your greatest opportunities, risks, and areas of uncertainty.

Some technology developers choose to keep their cost modeling in-house. By using a third party though, you free up your team to focus on their areas of expertise and you get professional results. Further, third party validation provides credibility and objectivity that will give you and your investors confidence in moving forward.

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Techno-economics for investors

Bringing a new chemical or bio-process related product to market is expensive and it takes a long time. Plus, it often involves significant technology risk. The risk is high and the stakes are high, and that is why it is so important to have strong techno-economic analysis.

In addition to building models, we work with investors to validate the models that come across there desks. And, we work with their portfolio companies to get the most out of their analyses. 


Conceptual engineering

Before you can understand the economics of your technology, you need to outline the system that will surround it. ​A conceptual engineering design does not need to be detailed, but it does need to be complete. The greatest source of error in early-stage cost estimates is incomplete conceptual engineering design.

Burk TechnoEconomics can help you navigate this challenge and avoid surprises down the road. The documentation that we develop will also set the stage to efficiently transition into the next phase of more detailed engineering design.

"Building a robust techno-economic model early on is critical to ensure innovation is aligned with commercial feasibility. Chris has the right balance of modeling and engineering expertise needed to build reliable TEAs that can inform key decision making"

Magi Richani

Founder / CEO, Nobell Foods


Techno-economics toolkit

Software platforms

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Microsoft Excel

Excel is my modeling platform of choice. It's standard toolkit in science, engineering, and business communities, and it's flexible enough to accommodate the unique situations encountered in modeling early-stage technologies.

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Visual basic

Visual Basic is a programming language integrated with Excel. We use it to build custom functions and automate routines, like solving complex equations, running Monte Carlo analysis, and building tornado diagrams.

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Process simulation

Process simulation tends to be best suited to late-stage technologies, but it is often useful for checking results and for solving complex material balances or phase equilibria.

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The dashboard or user interface brings together the important inputs and results on a single screen, so that you can efficiently interact with the model and explore the interactions that drive your economics.

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Process model

The process model combines lab data and engineering parameters to more fully characterize the system in the form of a material balance or stream table.

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CapEx & OpEx model

The CapEx and Opex models estimate total system capital costs and operating costs (raw materials, utilities, labor, etc.) based on the process model.

Model components

Analysis techniques

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Tornado diagram

Tornado diagrams help identify opportunities, risks, and areas of uncertainty, and they are one of my favorite tools for visualizing the relative importance of key parameters and guiding R&D efforts.

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Monte Carlo analysis

Monte Carlo analysis uses random numerical iteration to quantify the potential impact of uncertainty (i.e. in price fluctuations). Read more here.

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Numerical optimization

With a good techno-economic model, it's straightforward to numerically optimize for any set of input and output parameters.

"Chris worked for me on a significant R&D catalyst development project and his techno-economic analyses were absolutely critical to our success. They prevented us from going down dead-end paths and helped us focus on the key elements within the process that would yield the highest potential returns."

Erick Schutte, PhD

Manager of Technology Development at RES Kaidi

​"Chris provided high-quality, cost-effective design services and was able to quickly come up to speed on new aspects of the project. He was attentive, responsive to our needs, and a natural fit with our engineering team."

Phil Michael, PE

VP Engineering & Product Development, New Sky Energy

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