Biotech start-up Solugen has come up with a way to replace fossil fuels in the production of chemicals with sugar.
Chemical manufacturing is typically always accompanied with heavy pollution, high levels of CO2 emissions and dangerous conditions due to the use of petroleum.
But when that petroleum is substituted with sugar, or corn syrup to be exact, most of those issues are eliminated.
Solugen’s Houston-based industrial chemical plant is the first of its kind and will instantly strike you with its lack of wastewater discharge, emissions and other negatives associated with the sector.
In addition, the entire facility runs off electricity as opposed to coal-fired burners.
The petrochemical industry is considered to be one of the world largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters, with approximately 923 million metric tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere last year alone.
Solugen’s technology, however, may provide an effective solution for this problem and, in fact, help the industry become carbon negative.
In addition to their environmental benefits, the start-up’s products are also cheaper to produce than their fossil fuel-made counterparts.
And if successful in reaching the milestones that it has set for itself in the coming years, Solugen may be able to remove as much as 1 billion tons of carbon annually.
In September this year, the company raised $357 million in a Series C funding round and its current valuation has reached $1.8 billion – only five years after its launch in 2016.
The idea was born during a conversation between two scientists over a poker game. CEO Gaurab Chakrabarti has discovered an enzyme that converts sugar into hydrogen peroxide and CTO Sean Hunt was at the time studying metal catalysts used in making chemicals.
The two co-founders started exploring ways in which their approaches could be applied to make chemicals in a different way.