Who’s in Hot Water, Cold Water, and Who’s Just Right?: Mitsubishi, Monolith Materials, Codexis, Casdin, LG Chem, Neste, Wells Fargo, EPA, NXTLEVVEL, Elementis, Growth Energy, US National Labs, Ginkgo Bioworks in the news

December 2, 2020 |

Who’s in Hot Water? Some of the Usual Suspects get into the usual trouble. We note that EPA missed the 2021 Renewable Volume Obligation deadline, and Growth Energy threatens a lawsuit. Really. We get tired of reporting on the industry having to (almost annually) sue the government to compel compliance to the law. It’s a poor return for hard-pressed rural voters for all the support they’ve given to the Trump Administration. And, lookee here, the EU is about to unveil new mobility legislation and the industry is furiously issuing reports on the inclusion of sustainable renewable fuels, which feels to us as if EU players think that, without pressure, the EU would completely ignore renewable fuels as a climate mitigation strategy. What’s next, issuing a guide to EU nations and forgetting France and Germany? Issuing a guide to EU nutrition and overlooking carbohydrates?

Who’s in Cold Water? Sometimes the opportunities are real enough, but are perhaps a bit off-target, a bit far off. Mitsubishi invests in Monolith Materials to scale “Turquoise” hydrogen. We love hydrogen and we love splitting methane to get it, especially for industrial processes. But why use fossil methane? Why not work harder on sourcing renewable methane? There’s nothing Turquoise about fossil natural gas. It’s pure Onyx. We also saw with excitement that Ontario has set a roadmap to E15 ethanol blending. We were less excited to note that E15 will not be fully implemented until 2030. That’s miles down the road. Imagine if Ontario officials promised to address the pandemic by 2030 (and isn’t climate a pandemic-level threat?) — governments would fall if remedies were so slowly forthcoming. And another in the right direction, too long department: a new report from IEA Bioenergy concludes that EV’s will not rival biofuels as climate mitigator, until 2040 — so why aren’t we working harder on renewable fuels, now?

Who’s in Water that’s Just Right? Ah, but there are even more stories this week where the right people are working on the right things at the right time in the right way. The Goldilocks Department is in good shape. We saw that Codexis and Casdin Capital launched their SynBio Innovation Accelerator — what a thoughtful partnership to build from Codexis’ platform and leveraging Casdin’s capital — that gives a firm direction and surety to accelerators that is rarely seen. Also, we note that LG Chem aims to decarbonize using Neste renewable hydrocarbons as feedstock — now, that’s super, a company saying that it will decarbonize in the here and now using feedstock that is already available at commercial scale. No “net zero by the year 2525” for LG. Also, we were delighted to see that Wells Fargo has renewed and expanded its IN2 incubator program thru 2024 with NREL — every new company should check this program out — Wells Fargo’s commitment is real and is a win-win for sustainable finance because banks need more deal flow that’s faster to evaluate — now, agtech, and transport are in focus, too, in case you’ve been waiting for the program to support those sectors. Speaking of accelerators and incubators, NYSERDA has been eager to get New York State into the game, and has partnered up with a group of companies to launch the Carbon to Value Initiative accelerator program — now making its first call for applications by January 27th. Something that’s been overdue but highly welcome, the GF Biochemicals technology is reaching deployment stage — after forming the NXTLEVVEL Biochem, now the JV has partnered with Elementis to deploy biobased products at scale.

Our #1 favorite in the “right topic at the right time” department? How to use Machine Learning in Metabolic Engineering — companies have a “must-know, must do” in applying this form of artificial intelligence in bioeconomy. Here’s a supremely great primer, and an introduction at the same time to almost all of the world-class experts.

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