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Carbon Recycling: Microbes, Jet Fuel and Leggings

Shayle has been brewing up an investment thesis around how decarbonization will create stratification in traditional commodity sectors, like chemicals and materials.

If you can produce the same thing in the same cost range — but you can do so in a CO2-free or carbon-negative — you’ll reap the rewards.

Lanzatech is a great test case for that thesis, as well as a great story to tell about the history of this sector. It was founded in 2005 as a biofuels company. Now, it captures industrial waste gasses, such as CO2 and CO, and recycles them into the chemicals used to make everything from plastics to medical supplies to fabric for Lululemon. It has even spun out an entire company focused on jet fuel.

Shayle talks to CEO Dr. Jennifer Holmgren about carbon recycling and the big dent it could make in global greenhouse gas emissions. They break down the economics of competing with undifferentiated ethanol, jet fuel, and chemicals and the brand interest driving interest in carbon recycling tech.

Jennifer hints at the potential for applying genetics expertise from medicine to industrial biotechnology; one day Lanzatech hopes to produce acetone, isopropyl alcohol and other valuable chemicals directly from its carbon-eating microbes. She reflects on leading one of the few companies to survive booms and busts of cleantech over the years. And she explains why the Lanzatech team decided not to ask their bacteria to do cartwheels. 

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Source: Greentech Media