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Opinion

The Interchange podcast: Carbon recycling: microbes, jet fuel and leggings

1 minute read

An investment thesis proposal around how decarbonization will create stratification in traditional commodity sectors, like chemicals and materials: if you can produce the same thing in the same cost range – but you can do so in a CO2-free or carbon-negative – you'll reap the rewards.

Lanzatech is a great test case for that thesis, as well as a great story to tell about the history of this sector. It was founded in 2005 as a biofuels company. Now, it captures industrial waste gasses, such as CO2 and CO, and recycles them into the chemicals used to make everything from plastics to medical supplies to fabric for Lululemon. It has even spun out an entire company focused on jet fuel.

CEO Dr. Jennifer Holmgren joins us to talk about carbon recycling and the big dent it could make in global greenhouse gas emissions. They break down the economics of competing with undifferentiated ethanol, jet fuel, and chemicals and the brand interest driving interest in carbon recycling tech.

Jennifer hints at the potential for applying genetics expertise from medicine to industrial biotechnology; one day Lanzatech hopes to produce acetone, isopropyl alcohol and other valuable chemicals directly from its carbon-eating microbes. She reflects on leading one of the few companies to survive booms and busts of cleantech over the years. And she explains why the Lanzatech team decided not to ask their bacteria to do cartwheels.

The Interchange is brought to you by Hitachi ABB Power Grids. Are you building a renewable plant? Looking for a battery energy storage system? Thinking about how to integrate renewables to your grid? Hitachi ABB Power Grids is your choice.

The Interchange is brought to you by LONGi Solar, the world’s leading solar technology company. A global market leader, LONGi has unmatched bankability, quality and performance validated by third-party laboratories, and has breakthrough innovation at both the wafer and module level.

View the landing page to hear all episodes of The Interchange.