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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up August 7, 2020

Lux Research
August 7, 2020

Everyday our analysts comb through the top innovation headlines and provide their analysis on important industry updates, trends, and developments. Our experts evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

Each Friday we highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the latest emerging technology and innovation news for the first week of August below.

Teladoc Health acquires Livongo Health for $18.5 billion

Danielle Bradnan Lux ResearchDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Truly Disruptive

"This is an enormous deal in terms of both money and the market context of telehealth. It brings juggernaut digital therapeutic Livongo Health into the fold of Teladoc, critically augmenting the more traditional video conferencing approach where Teladoc has been a market leader with remote monitoring and mHealth capabilities. This is important for bolstering Teladoc against the video conferencing-based telehealth bubble that is likely to burst in the U.S. due to a renewed lack of reimbursement and all but ensures Teladoc Health's primacy in the telehealth space. Those looking to compete in the telehealth space need to move now, focusing on acquisition targets that lean into the remote monitoring and mHealth capabilities of telehealth."

New bill introduced to overhaul U.S. pesticide regulations, with human health as a key component

Josh HaslunJoshua Haslun, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @JHaslun  Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The "Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020" introduced by Tom Udall and Joe Neguse would overhaul FIFRA to protect human and environmental health. It cites Europe's policy update, the EPA's registration record, environmental impacts, and a lack of disclosure of inert ingredients as the impetus for the bill. The overhaul would create accountability for administrators' actions, define dangerous pesticides, establish emergency review of internationally banned pesticides, increase accountability, end abuse of emergency exemptions, and ban organophosphates, neonicotinoids, and paraquat. While the bill is unlikely to survive in this form, the bipartisan team should be noted, and the effort is likely to continue."

Low oil prices force NRG Energy to put hold on Petra Nova carbon capture project

holly havelHolly Havel, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important


"The outlook for industrial CO2 capture for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) applications does not look positive following the indefinite shutdown of Petra Nova, the largest commercial-scale post-combustion CO2 capture facility to date. Current low oil prices attributed to COVID-19 have made the flagship project uneconomical, though NRG Energy will look to resume operations once economics improve. However, despite potential 45Q tax credits for CO2 utilization, Lux's own analysis found that the project would not be economical for COEOR unless oil prices hit the $70/bbl mark. Without stronger cost incentives, operators will continue to look for cheap, naturally sourced CO2 for EOR until oil prices recover or the cost of CO2 capture comes down."

Point-of-care rapid test sensor for infectious disease testing is promising

Lisheng Gao, Analyst at Lux ResearchLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Ams partnered with Midge Medical to develop low-cost rapid genetic and blood testing sensors for both point-of-care and professional testing purposes. The sensor under development is pocket-sized and can be read out using smartphones in as little as 15 minutes. Compared with the proposed pathogen sensors aiming to detect the virus in the atmosphere, Midge Medical's testing solutions are both theoretically and practically feasible. Regarding the market, the success of HIV home test kits has paved the way for the company's success. Overall, the only concern is whether the company can identify the diseases that the users, from whichever side, need to test frequently in the post-pandemic era, thus creating a stable demand."

Facebook and partners develop fiber deploying crawler robot

Kern, JoshBenjamin Torda

Josh Kern, Analyst & Benjamin Torda, Research Associate | @josh_kern_ Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"In an effort to lower the costs of fiber-optic cable deployment in developing countries, Facebook Connectivity partnered with ULC Robotics to develop a crawling robot that could wrap lightweight fiber cable around medium-voltage power lines. Compared to existing methods of aerial fiber construction, which heavily rely on human labor, Facebook claims this autonomous system can reduce deployment costs 3× to 5×. The robotic solution requires high autonomy to lift itself over insulators and other obstacles and a safe design for humans to load the robot while deployed on live lines. While the incentive for electric utilities to participate is not entirely clear, those interested in automated line maintenance should engage with Facebook."

Unilever's partnership with Algenuity upholds algae as an opportunity for the food industry

Krishfield, LauraLaura Krishfield, Research Associate | @LKrishfield Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"The economic viability of algae production is questionable for most products due to high production costs. Nevertheless, algae is suddenly attracting interest as a protein ingredient from major food companies – first with Nestlé and Corbion and now with Unilever's new partnership with Algenuity. The key differentiating factor for both of these algae developers is the use of scalable photobioreactor technology rather than open-pond systems. Above all, Algenuity claims differentiation in selective trait development of its strain to improve its algae powder's taste, smell, and nutritional content. Companies, when it comes to algae, only engage with developers that can succeed in producing high-value products worth the cost of production."

Fraunhofer team produces viscose yarn from recycled cotton

anthony schiavoAnthony Schiavo, Senior Analyst @MobbDeepTech Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The research group worked on the project with startup Re:newcell, which provided a recycled material as the starting point. Fraunhofer's work is notable for the both the quality of the finished yarn and the claim that it could drop into existing viscose rayon production. Building infrastructure is one of the key hurdles for textile recycling, so any technology that potentially eases that pain point should be taken seriously."

Lux Research - Materials - eBook


The chemist's humble magnetic stir bar gets an upgrade, supporting digital transformation of materials R&D

Holman, Mike

Michael Holman, Ph.D., VP, Research | @MichaelHolmanLR Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"University of Warwick researchers added sensors for temperature, conductivity, viscosity, and more, along with a Bluetooth connection, to a magnetic stir like those used to run reactions in chemistry labs the world over. As chemicals researchers look to incorporate more tools like materials informatics and lab automation, simple advances like this one that collect more data to help optimize these approaches can lead to the improved R&D efficiency needed to help the industry face growing megatrends."

Floating wind farm WindFloat Atlantic begins operations

Seoane da Silva, PatriciaPatricia Seoane da Silva, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The third and final turbine of the 25 MW project has been connected to the grid after the first platform came online in January this year. WindFloat Atlantic was jointly developed by Portuguese EDP Renewables, Engie, Repsol, and Principle Power and is officially the world's first semi-submersible floating wind farm. The commissioning of WindFloat is an achievement for the floating wind sector, which is poised to reach 70 GW of cumulative installed capacity by 2040 and grow rapidly in Europe and Asia. Companies should continue to monitor developments along these lines; for the case of WindFloat, the collaboration between Principle Power and Tokyo Gas will be particularly interesting, as both partners aim to build a WindFloat supply chain."

Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials (MCAM) acquires major carbon fiber recycler

Gee, Cecilia

Cecilia Gee, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"CFK Valley Stade was a major player in carbon fiber recycling, alongside ELG and Carbon Conversions. This acquisition will consolidate MCAM's capabilities, expanding its product line into the circular economy while capitalizing on CFK's existing supply chain – an advantageous point, as carbon fiber recycling infrastructure is not standardized and instead relies on individualized contracts. This move signals that carbon fiber recycling is gaining traction, and MCAM will profit from both recycling services and its ability to offer full turnkey solutions. Companies can expect other players to follow suit and invest in, develop, or acquire recycling technologies much more quickly, as Mitsubishi Corporation  and Hexcel already did years prior."

Hanwha Energy's 50 MW fuel cell power plant comes online utilizing waste hydrogen

Benjamin Torda

Benjamin Torda, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"South Korea plans to add 15 GW of stationary fuel cell power production by 2040. Recently, Hanwha brought online a 50 MW, $212.4 million power plant at its Daesan petrochemical complex. The power plant will use hydrogen produced as a byproduct from petrochemical production and supplied via underground pipeline. Doosan Fuel Cell supplied 144 units of its 440 kW phosphoric acid fuel cell (PAFC) systems and will provide maintenance service for 20 years. Korea Power Exchange will purchase all generated electricity. For initial hydrogen projects, companies should look to existing hydrogen sources like refineries and chemical plants that may not offer the same emission reduction potential but don't require waiting for electrolyzer prices to drop."

Lux Research - Newsletter Research


Revel Transit halts moped service after fatal crashes

Chad Goldberg  Lux ResearchChad Goldberg, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The electric moped sharing company has temporarily shut down service in New York City after a series of fatal crashes occurred in July. The company maintains that it looks forward to continuing to serve that market in the near future, though its primary course of action is to review and bolster its rider accountability and safety measures. While this halt in service is a slight cause for concern, it is more a sign that companies must continue to remain vigilant to address user safety, especially for mopeds that operate at higher speeds and next to cars on city streets. Remember that shared scooters underwent similar safety overhauls in response to rider safety concerns at initial market entry, so expect similar growing pains with mopeds."

Crescent Dunes CSP plant (110 MW) owner Tonopah Solar Energy files for bankrupcy

Seoane da Silva, PatriciaPatricia Seoane da Silva, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The 110 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) facility was the recipient of a $737 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) in 2011 and was run by SolarReserve's subsidiary Tonopah Solar Energy until just now. Commissioned in 2015, this project has not been able to overcome a number of recurrent technical issues according to the U.S. DOE. These problems are not new; in fact, Crescent Dunes was an eight-month shutdown caused by a leak in the plant's molten salt tank. When looking at the bigger picture, Crescent Dunes is a representative example of the main challenge faced by CSP – namely the plummeting price of solar PV and, in turn, ceasing activity of various industry players like GlassPoint Solar."

Quantum computer developer Rigetti raises $79 million Series C

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

Lewie Roberts, Senior Research Associate | @roberts_lewie Ico twitter
Lux Take: Low Importance


"The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners and includes other VC firms, though there are no additional strategic partners. There is no evidence that the funding will be used for any new project or to scale-up team size. Rather, it seems that Rigetti just needed more cash to fund the capital-intensive project of hardware development. This is not to say that the company doesn't have support from technical groups; it was awarded a DARPA grant last year and is a part of Amazon's quantum cloud ecosystem. Companies just shouldn't assume this round is especially significant."

Ube Industries and Nagoya University develop new technique to separate multilayer plastics

anthony schiavoAnthony Schiavo, Senior Analyst @MobbDeepTech Ico twitter
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Multilayer plastics – such as packaging films with a barrier layer – are one of the most stubbornly difficult-to-recycle materials. The main claim that the new method uses far less energy than other separation approaches could be useful in making multilayer film recycling economical, but other big problems – such as sorting and collection – remain. Companies should look to monomaterial films as a better solution, as they ideally won't require as much sorting, in addition to eliminating the need for separation."

BP expands its partnership with SparkCognition, considers predictive maintenance as a tool for achieving net-zero ambitions

Harshit SharmaHarshit Sharma, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance


"BP currently uses SparkPredict at the Atlantis and ETAP offshore production facilities. As part of the expansion, additional BP facilities will use the PdM solution in 2020 and 2021. BP further claims this will reduce emissions from its operations due to lower maintenance activity and fewer outages. While the reduction of emissions is indeed a benefit of predictive maintenance, its potential is debatable when compared to the value proposition of reduced equipment downtime and maintenance work. Those interested should instead focus on how BP vetted SparkPredict for expanding the partnership. BP evaluated the model's capabilities by sharing historical data, using which Spark predicted historical failures with an average of nine days' advanced warning.
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FURTHER READING:

- Free Access to our COVID-19 Resources

- Press Release: Can Personalized Nutrition Overcome Its Massive Obstacles to Play an Integral Role in Health?

- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up July 31, 2020

- Blog: Adapt or Get Left Behind: COVID-19's Disruption of Consumer Goods

- Blog: Taxonomizing Smart City Mobility

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