Will The Next Google Please Stand Up? Green Chemistry Contenders


Plastics make it possible- right? But what makes plastics possible? Or for that matter what makes surfactants, plasticizers, adhesives, coalescent solvents and a host of other products possible? Up until recently the answer was oil, and lots of it. But, the hot field of Green Chemistry has seen remarkable growth in developing oil alternatives. These new chemical synthesis routes may be able to provide green options to the chronically oil dependent industrial age products. Understanding that food crops are not likely a viable alternative to oil, companies are quickly reorganizing and merging to form new entities that can harness the power of cellulose, and turn bio-waste into pure bio-plastic. From Metabolix to Diversa, we have been keeping a lookout for the company that will become the next google. The newest contender, weighing in at $15 million from Kohsla Ventures is Segetis.The name doesn't quite roll off the tongue like google - 'Segetis' - but, no matter. The company announced the new funding last week, which will be used for:

...renewable chemical products for industrial and consumer applications using inexpensive feedstocks from agriculture and forestry.

They are tight lipped about all the details, but their vision and business seems to be based on green chemistry.

Making a plastic table top, a bottle of shampoo, or a cushion for car seat from renewable feedstocks in a cost-effective fashion requires use of different chemistry and intermediates than those needed to make similar products from petroleum. Green chemistry can deliver novel functional products that perform at par with or better than the existing petrochemical goods. Availability of such green products will deliver a high degree of economic sustainability to the global chemical industry and provide major economic and societal protection from the global rise in prices of petroleum and other fossil fuels.

Is Segentis the next Google? I don't know- I think their stated vision is missing the obvious advantages that green chemistry can offer. Ideally their products should be less toxic, and also provide a cradle to cradle functionality, but none of that is mentioned in their talking points. Their systems process should be cleaner and better for the people producing the products (not to mention using the products). The company appears to be based on the idea of 'peak oil', and not on the social, environmental, and product design freedom their new technology enables. I hope more companies will realize that a company ethic is not a bad thing, even if it is just 'Don't Be Evil'. Never underestimate a little optimism and a few clever ideas. :: Segetis

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