Climate change is a clear and present danger that threatens not only developing countries but the whole world. While we cannot do away with some of the crucial industries that keep our economy afloat, we can definitely adopt renewable energies wherever we can. The chemicals industry depends upon petrochemicals for its functioning. It is responsible for over 20% of all industrial greenhouse emissions and over 10% of all global energy consumption. However, a startup named Solugen may have found a way to reduce or even eliminate the chemical industry’s reliance on petrochemicals.
Begun from a grant of $10,000, Solugen was started after two friends successfully conducted genetic modification of yeast to produce hydrogen peroxide. Furthermore, this was done in a small part of a bigger lab rented for the same purpose. The co-founders, GaurabChakrabarti, and Sean Hunt succeeded in creating a process that is capable of producing several tons of important chemicals, without any petroleum. With the right scale and expansion, Solugen’s proprietary technology can significantly bring down petrochemical consumption of a $4.3 trillion industry.
Solugen’s breakthrough was made possible with CRISPR gene editing technology, which was used to modify yeast cells to make them enhance the production of the necessary enzyme, which is then used to produce important oxidation chemicals. The startup has used newly received venture capital money to build a production facility that is capable of churning out 5000 tons of hydrogen peroxide each year.
If this goes mainstream, it could greatly reduce fossil fuel consumption, leading to a significant reduction in greenhouse emissions.