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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up October 8, 2021

Lux Research
October 8, 2021

Every day our researchers read 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 past week below. 

U.K. officially launches its hydrogen strategy, committing to "thriving hydrogen economy" in U.K. by 2030

Arij van Berkel, Ph.D., Vice President, Research

Arij van Berkel, Ph.D., VP & Group Director
Lux Take: Very Important

 

"It should hardly come as a surprise that the U.K. is very ambitious when it comes to the hydrogen economy. However, so far, the signs were just a series of impressive studies and projects without an explicit strategy or government commitment. With the publication of its hydrogen strategy in August 2021, the U.K. is now officially committing to converting virtually its entire economy to using hydrogen as the main energy carrier. The strategy introduces the notion of a "hydrogen sector" in the U.K. policy and describes elaborate plans to support this entire sector along the entire value chain: production (including CCUS), transportation, and use of hydrogen. Companies should engage with the U.K., as it is leading the deployment of hydrogen.

CO₂ to starch: Can cell-free systems take over plant-based starch synthesis?

Harini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst, Lux Research

Harini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

 

"Researchers in China have developed a chemoenzymatic method to produce starch from carbon dioxide. The method includes 11 core reactions, including the use of an inorganic catalyst to reduce CO2 to methanol, followed by engineered enzymes. The researchers have managed to produce amylose and amylopectin (key starch components in maize) using this system. The highlight of this research is the rate of conversion of CO2 to starch in the cell-free system, which is 8.5 times higher than that of crop-based synthesis. While the system needs to be optimized for scale-up, this study opens up the possibility of viable cell-free production alternatives, with better resource efficiency in land and water usage.

Dow opens mattress PU recycling plant, but profitability may depend on subsidies

Marcian Lee, Ph.D., Research Analyst, Lux Research

Marcian Lee, Ph.D., Research Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"Mattresses are expensive to recycle, and successful programs often depend on legislated fees to fund the infrastructure. The French "eco-participation fee" helps Dow's waste polyurethane (PU) supplier keep costs low, but not all regions have similar legislation – only three U.S. states have mandated fees, for example. Therefore, for Dow to scale similar operations elsewhere, it is limited to areas with subsidized mattress recycling or needs to find cheap ways to collect and process post-use mattresses. Companies interested in sustainable PU should pay more attention to a similar project by Covestro instead, which recovers both the isocyanate and polyol (Dow recovers only the polyol) and has developed more efficient foam separation technology."

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ADM and LG Chem sign MoU for U.S. lactic acid and PLA production

Kristin Marshall, Analyst, Lux Research

Kristin Marshall, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"ADM and LG Chem have teamed up before, announcing a joint development agreement on bio-based acrylic acid back in 2019. The two are now expanding their partnership in the bio-based space and plan to launch a joint venture to bring online a commercial facility for high-purity corn-based lactic acid. The companies also plan to form a second joint venture that will utilize this lactic acid to produce polylactic acid (PLA). The only large-scale PLA producer in the U.S. has been NatureWorks, which is expanding production at its flagship facility in Nebraska and abroad. These strategic moves are in response to the current global supply shortage and growing demand for materials that can replace virgin petroleum-based plastics, even in the U.S."

Ecoation, Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics, and Biobest join resources for better autonomous crop monitoring

Deepesh Bista, Analyst, Lux Research

Deepesh Bista, Agriculture Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"The partnership will combine Ecoation's data collection and greenhouse harvesting expertise, Bogaerts' enhanced greenhouse mobility solutions, and Biobest's alternative pest control products and experience developing precision IPM strategies. The relationship comes on the heels of Biobest's three-year relationship with Ecoation culminating in an $8 million investment this year. Bogaerts' inclusion will support rapid scaling of sensor-enhanced greenhouse scouting. Bogaerts has fully operational units in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and France. Key players, with the steady growth of controlled environment agriculture, expect collaborations driven by integrated data generation as well as consolidation of talent and platforms."

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International ag cooperatives Agrifirm and CRV collaborate to research methane emissions

Tim Appachanda, Ph.D., Senior Analyst, Lux Research

Tim Appachanda, Ph.D., Senior Analyst, Agrifood
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"Two Netherlands-based international cooperative organizations, Royal Agrifirm Group and CRV, are collaborating to measure the methane emissions of individual cows under field conditions. The purpose is to gain deeper insight into differences between animals and feed rations by focusing on feed additives, methane efficiency breeding values, and improved methods for estimating the methane emissions of cows at the farm scale. Monitoring equipment is set up at a feed concentrate station. The data facilitates the development of breeding values to reduce herd methane emissions by 1% per year. Companies should note that feed additives are short-term solutions; long-term GHG reduction through breeding will slowly aid in achieving GHG reduction goals."

Atmo Biosciences raises $7 million to scale its ingestible gas sensors for microbiome analysis

Harini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst, Lux Research

Harini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"This round brings in new investors like Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Alium Capital management and will support Atmo's clinical studies required for U.S. regulatory clearance. The company will also expand to other clinical use cases for gastrointestinal disorders. Its gas sensors detect several gases in the gut as a marker of the microbiome signature, with improved sensitivity from direct gas sensing in the gut. Although Atmo's initial target use cases are more on the pharma front, its recent partnership with Seed Health indicates the potential to use ingestible sensors to assess probiotics' efficacy for consumer health. Companies interested in the continuous microbiome monitoring landscape should engage in trial partnerships with the company."

Aramis, the third musketeer, completes the Dutch CCS project by connecting it to the North Sea

Arij van Berkel, Ph.D., Vice President, Lux Research

Arij van Berkel, Ph.D., VP & Group Director
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"The Porthos and Athos projects constitute two independent CCS projects, connecting, respectively, the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam to its own CO2 disposal wells on the North Sea. However, these wells have only limited capacity. The third musketeer, Aramis, aims to provide those projects a longer-term future by making all the sequestration potential on the Dutch continental shelf available. CCS is regarded as a temporary GHG emissions reduction solution, pending structural decarbonization of the industry. The Aramis project seeks to make a final investment decision in 2023 and commence operations in 2026. The project can provide the Dutch industry a fast track to reduce its carbon emissions at an estimated €80/ton."

Did you miss last week's news round-up? Check out the blog here. Make sure you never miss a headline by subscribing to our newsletter.

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