Guest: Moji Karimi | Co-Founder & CEO | Cemvita Factory
Category: ☁️ Carbon Reduction | Biomimicry
Podcast’s Essential Bites:
[4:09] MK: "[Cemvita Factory is] a platform company. [...] At a high level, we're deploying nature inspired solutions from [the] biotech industry, using principles of biomimicry [...] to basically empower the energy transition. [...] It's not just about [the] carbon footprint, it's also about the environmental footprint, and we're helping reduce both through this set of solutions from biotechnology."
[10:32] MK: "[Biomimicry] is basically the principle of looking at nature and see, how could we replicate that as humans in a way that is engineered, scalable, robust. [...] Looking at natural systems, especially in our case microbes that are in nature, that are fixing CO2, that are eating methane, that are producing hydrogen, that are bioweathering, extracting minerals from the rocks, these are proof points that [biomimicry] is possible. [We have to] understand it, with the next step being controlling it, and turning it into an engineered solution that we could deploy."
[12:31] MK: "The vision [is] empowering the energy transition through [a] set of microbial solutions. And they go in three different themes. The first theme is sustainable extraction of natural resources, whether we're talking about hydrocarbons, or we're talking about minerals, metals that go into the energy transition. [...] Companies are going to put more focus on sustainable extraction methods. And biotech has solutions to offer."
[12:59] MK: "The second theme is a sustainable production of chemicals and fuels through biomanufacturing. We're starting to replace a lot of chemical reactions with biochemical reactions, especially for reducing the scope one emissions."
[13:11] MK: "The third one is sustainable renewal of any waste that's created within that extraction and production process back into other sources of value. So we see CO2 [for] example as a waste, that you could use and recycle into other products."
[13:25] MK: "Theese three things then feed into our platform, and we have three business units or verticals. The first one is CO2-based biomanufacturing. This is where we have CO2 to ethylene for decarbonization of polymers and plastics. We have CO2 to sustainable aviation fuels that we're doing with United Airlines. And we have CO2 to renewable natural gas."
[13:52] MK: "The second vertical is biomining. This is using microbes for better extraction of minerals [...]. We have a special focus on copper for bioleaching of copper. And also we have a new method for bioextraction of lithium, that then goes into batteries."
[14:07] MK: "The third vertical is what we call subsurface biomanufacturing. This is basically turning the subsurface reservoir into a bioreactor and doing chemical reactions in the subsurface. And the flagship project is what we call gold hydrogen. It's a new way of producing biohydrogen in the subsurface, fermenting the unrecovered oil."
[14:54] MK: "If I look at both the technology readiness level and also considering the demand in the market, [...] right now biomining is [...] closest to market. [...] Especially for clay lithium extraction, because 89% of lithium comes from brine, and we need a lot more lithium. So companies really want to figure out how to get lithium out of clay. So that's a very fast growing area, coupled also with bioleaching of copper. [...] Today 20% of world's copper is already bioleached and we're helping these companies really improve their recovery."
[17:39] MK: "The demand for energy transition metals is going to increase by about 500% by 2050. We need over 3 billion tons of minerals and metals, basically, across wind and solar, geothermal, for energy storage also, to stay within this kind of two degree cap that we all want."
[45:45] MK: "We're creating a new category for deployment of industrial biotech across [the] energy transition. [...] We've created a seamless biofoundry, as we call it, where we do cross- fertilization of ideas across the three verticals. [...] We have a map of interconnections between them and we have a matrix organization, where we have business units and business unit leaders. [...] All projects go through the same workflow, so that allows us to pull this off [...] that from outside looks like three different companies."
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