"Most competitors use what’s already there and try to improve it. We designed from scratch..."
There’s a lot of focus around carbon capture technology at the moment, with it increasingly viewed as a key tool in tackling climate change, providing energy security, creating jobs and furthering economic prosperity. Power Stations are often viewed as the biggest opportunity but it can also have an important role to play in ensuring that other manufacturing industries, such as steel and cement, can continue to operate, without the associated emissions.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) states that carbon capture and storage could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 19%, and that fighting climate change could cost 70% more without it. Our Editor, Luke Upton was recently in the Netherlands where he met with Bernhard Guentner, Chief Executive Officer of Syngip who are aiming to take carbon capture onto the next generation.
The team at Syngip has the develpoped technology to produce value chemicals both sustainably and economically from syngas (waste gases that contain either CO and/or CO2 and H2). And owns proprietary, artificial and efficient pathways for the production of the value chemicals isobuten, isoprene, propylene and 1,3-butadiene from syngas. They are currently working with the industry leading companies to implement Syngip’s pathway IP for the generation of superior industrial strains.
Luke Upton (LU): Thanks for the time today, where did the Syngip story begin?
Bernhard Guentner (BG): The story began in little town called Vaals located directly at the border of 3 different countries (Germany, Netherlands and Belgium). After working at Fraunhofer IME, Aachen, Germany for four years on a project to convert syngas into isoprene via engineered clostridia I decided to do my own thing. Thus I founded Syngip in 2014 in a "garage" in Vaals. We are now located at the Chemelot industrial park where we try to push the boundaries of what is possible!
LU: Thanks, you’ve designed your tech from scratch, what have been some of the challenges with this approach?
BG: Most competitors use what’s already there and try to improve it. We designed from scratch in order to come close to an ideal solution. The challenge is not so much to gather enough information about the problem you want to solve although this takes considerable time nor to make the right technical decisions. Instead the challenge is securing funding, R&D companies are always a high risk investment.
LU: So, why the focus on Isobutene and not other products?
BG: Because Isobutene has several advantageou; It is easy (economical) to purify from the fermentation broth because it's gaseous, i is not toxic for the bacteria, is a high volume high value bulk chemical with annual sales exceeding $30 billion, oil-based competition is weaker than for C2-C3 compounds and finally we have found an efficient, unique, artificial metabolic pathway which we also filed a patent for (WO2016/034691).We don’t know of anybody as of now that can make for instance isobutene from syngas. But if you do please tell us!
LU: Interesting, so what's the business model behind developing Syngip?
BG: We are completely flexible in that regard. Obviously, licensing our technology would be our preferred option. Everybody can ferment ethanol. We have products that high volume bulk chemicals. Isobutene for instance is a product that the industry really wants. We are dedicated to outperforming the competition in terms of productivity, robustness, ease of use and price with our proprietary industrial strains. And are aiming to have a commercial plant running within five years.
LU: And just to conclude, what excites you most about our industry?
BG: Quite simply, it is the way of the future!
LU: Thanks very much, looking forward to keeping track of Syngip’s progress!
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