Last Meeting (11/11/20)
Last Wednesday we talked with Aaron Fitzgerald, entrepreneur in residence at Carbon180 and founder of at least 3 different startups. Aaron discussed his start into the NET space, and how he was able to build up his different startups. Aaron began his career as a part of Kairos Aerospace, a company focused on surveying and discovering methane leaks across different oil and gas mining spaces. He then began to tackle the problem of creating a useful product from methane, specifically looking at using methanotrophic bacteria to convert methane and CO2 into different organic acids. This idea then moved to taking methane from waste water treatment plants and creating these organic acids from that source. This served the purpose of neutralizing the nitrogen runoff from the treatment plants which are large sources of eutrophication in oceans and waterways.
However, there wasn’t enough of a market to support this idea, nor was the technology realized enough. Aaron then moved to working with Carbon 180 as an entrepreneur in residence, a role which functioned as reviewing different NET startups and deciding which ones were ready for commercialization. Of the startups they looked at, NREL eventually became the company they selected to work with. NREL’s technology is using biomass feedstocks and converting that carbon source into a clean acrylonitrile source. The process is biologically driven, likely using a fungus to create this change.
This lead to a conversation about what is necessary to make a startup possible, and the timelines they run on. Aaron presented that most of these initiatives start with some kind of government funding, especially policies that encourage NET technology growth in national labs. We also discussed the benefits of trying to patent reaction pathways, and other ways to monetize technologies in the NET space.
For anyone who missed the meeting please go to the google drive > Membership > Meeting Videos and watch the general meeting 5 there !