Every day our researchers comb through the top innovation headlines and provide their expert opinions on important developments and industry news. Our analysts then evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.
On Fridays we highlight our Lux Take on the top news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the latest emerging technology and innovation news for the third week of March below.
Haldor Topsoe's announcement shows there are no sure bets in the hydrogen economy
"Haldor Topsoe will build a 500 MW solid oxide electrolyzer cell (SOEC) manufacturing facility by 2023, with the possibility of eventual expansion to 5 GW. The company's announcement shows that the hydrogen economy is still very much in flux and that new technologies can still upend hydrogen economy roadmaps. An industry leader moving forward with SOEC shows that even widely publicized roadmaps, such as those in the recent Hydrogen Insights report, have several blind spots to emerging hydrogen technologies. Another technology to watch out for is methane pyrolysis, which is currently flying under the radar but may similarly threaten the assumption that carbon capture will remain the technology of choice for blue hydrogen."
Oil industry faces challenges similar to tobacco as scrutiny of its role in environmental pollution intensifies
Arij van Berkel, Ph.D., VP, Research | @aivanberkel
Lux Take: Very Important
"The Guardian published a very thoroughly researched article today that shows, with actual quotes and a timeline, how the oil industry has been aware of the detrimental health effects caused by the large-scale use of its products since the 1960s. This opens the door to litigation similar to what the tobacco industry has been experiencing, which could make investors even more nervous than they are already about the future of the oil industry. This type of scrutiny is unprecedented for the oil industry, even though it has been criticized vehemently in the past. The article in The Guardian will increase pressure on the industry for real and rapid change toward renewable energy."
GM signs JDA with SolidEnergy, putting lithium metal anodes on its tech roadmap
Christopher Robinson, Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important
"GM had previously invested in lithium metal anode developer SolidEnergy Systems (SES) through its venture capital arm, and this joint development agreement takes the partnership a step further. The two have already put cells through simulated drive cycles. In a vote of confidence, GM will now assist SES in building a "high-capacity, pre-production" manufacturing line due to be completed in 2023. Clients should note that these cells would likely be used to qualify cells for production, and assuming a two-year qualification period would mean the earliest GM would be using SES technology would be 2025. Those interested should expect automakers and cell manufacturers to continue securing access to IP from startups, similar to Northvolt and Cuberg."
Sinopec announces plans to become China's largest hydrogen energy company in response to China's 14th Five-Year Plan
Hyundai Motor and SK Group form "hydrogen alliance"; major plans unveiled to promote blue hydrogen, hydrogen infrastructure, and FCEV
Jinze Dai, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important
"Hyundai Motor and SK Group pledged to strengthen their collaboration in line with South Korea's Hydrogen Economy Roadmap 2040. SK plans to invest $4.7 billion by 2025 to produce 250,000 tons per year of blue hydrogen from LNG, powering Hyundai's FCEVs. The two parties will work to install hydrogen chargers at SK gas stations, and Hyundai will supply FCEVs to SK in large numbers. Compared to previous hydrogen initiatives launched by each side individually, such as Hyundai-Posco hydrogen steel mills and SK's $1.5 billion investment in Plug Power, the new partnership may bolster the hydrogen market more directly. Those in the mobility and petrochemical industries should engage with each other to plan the future hydrogen economy together."
Cruise acquires autonomus vehicle developer Voyage
Singapore and Chile set in motion plans for international hydrogen supply chain
"The two countries signed an agreement to cooperate on the development of low-carbon hydrogen, including policymaking as it relates to hydrogen. While this is a mere agreement, its importance should not be downplayed. Chile is set to become a major exporter of low-carbon hydrogen due to its vast potential for solar energy, and while it will take years for this supply chain to develop, building up these partnerships at an early stage is important for countries like Singapore that seek to transition away from fossil fuels and yet cannot produce their own renewable energy."
Deep Branch's $9.5 million Series A to drive CO₂-based single-cell protein production
Laura Krishfield, Research Associate | @LKrishfield
Lux Take: Average Importance
"The round was led by Novo Holdings and DSM Venturing and joined by Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures and Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital. Deep Branch will use the funds to complete pilot-scale production of its CO2-based single-cell protein, conduct product validation with feed producers, and prepare for the construction of its first commercial-scale facility. Currently, CO2-based protein is at the nascent stage of development, with none of the competitors having reached the commercial stage. Deep Branch aims for commercial production by 2023, which we see as an aggressive yet possible timeline if the company continues to raise capital; however, companies should expect this market to take more time to mature."
Fastned raises €150 million to expand its fast EV charging network
"The Dutch electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure developer raised the cash through an accelerated bookbuild offering. The company plans to use the cash to support building the 164 charging stations it claims to have in its pipeline and to expand the capacity of its existing stations. Fastned currently operates a network of 133 fast-charging stations, most of which are in the Netherlands, with a few in Germany, the U.K., Belgium, and Switzerland. In addition, the company plans to expand into France in the near future. While the newly raised cash will certainly help Fastned accelerate its expansion, it's only a steppingstone to reach its goal of operating 1,000 stations across Europe."
Clara Foods launches animal-free pepsin as its first B2B ingredient
"While Clara Foods' initial focus was on producing animal-free egg proteins, it has now entered the market with pepsin as its first product. The company uses a yeast-based expression system to produce this enzyme, with a granted patent in the U.S. Building on its existing partnership, Ingredion will supply this enzyme globally for use in a variety of food processing applications. Pepsin is typically obtained from pig's stomach, and Clara Foods' animal-free production method will resonate well with the vegan market need. Companies, as developers continue to turn to fermentation production methods for food ingredients, functionality and cost-effectiveness will be key factors to succeed in the market."
Enel signs PPA to supply Kellogg's with 360 GWh of wind power
"Electricity will be produced at Enel's Azure Sky wind farm – a wind-plus-storage project in Texas that has recently begun construction. This installation combines 350 MW of wind power and 137 MW of energy storage, and it is expected to produce more than 1,300 GWh of energy annually. Under the virtual PPA signed by both partners, Kellogg Company – which aims to become carbon neutral by 2050 – will purchase around 50% of the energy produced at the wind site. Azure Sky will be Enel's first large-scale wind-plus-storage project and its third renewables-plus-storage installation. Those interested should expect similar projects to come online in the near term and a rising number of corporations to demand 24/7 renewable electricity."
Can portable filters really remove microplastics from drinking water? More importantly, are they required?
Drishti Masand, Research Associate | @DrishtiMasand
Lux Take: Ignore
"Many brands, such as LifeStraw and Tapp Water, have developed different technologies and filters to attach on faucets and bottle filters to "clean" drinking water; Real Water has developed a plastic filter that can attach to all single-use water bottles to filter out microplastics in bottled water. It has a lifespan of two months and is made of petroleum plastics; the solution is yet another product with limited use and will break into microplastics eventually and add to the problem. Solutions need to have a net positive impact to justify adoption. A better solution would be more centralized, for water companies to filter drinking and bottled water at the source."
Enegix tries to raise capital to launch its $5.4 billion green hydrogen project in Brazil
Jinze Dai, Analyst
Lux Take: Ignore
"Enegix Energy and the state government of Ceará signed an MoU to build a green hydrogen plant with a planned capacity of 600 million kg hydrogen per year. The company is partnering with Enerwind, a wind turbine manufacturer, to deliver this three-year project and looking to export the hydrogen through the Port of Pecém in Ceará. Despite Enegix's ambitious statements, it has not started feasibility studies or disclosed details on its plans to raise the funds. Given the the executive team's lack of relevant experience in the renewable energy space, the project is unlikely to bear fruit. Companies should be careful when it comes to hydrogen projects; check the qualifications of the management team and timeline before engaging."