Based in the Bay Area, California, Sylvatex is dedicated to upcycling low-value plant-based inputs into high-value alternatives to petrochemical products. Sylvatexs products can be used in a wide variety of applications, from powering vehicles to making fragrances all part of the companys mission to increase the use of renewables globally and to empower a cleaner and healthier future.
The Sylvatex president and CEO, Virginia Klausmeier, joins Bio-Based World News Dave Songer for 5 Minutes With this week, ahead of her talk at World Bio Markets. In a wide ranging interview, Sylvia reflects the positivity in the industry, covering Sylvatexs recent collaborations, the biggest challenges she and the company have faced and which eco product keeps her warm in Frisco Bay.
Dave Songer (DS): For those unfamiliar with what Sylvatex,can you tell me about some of the companys products?
Virginia Klausmeier (VK): Our MicroX product platform uses nano-scale particles to manipulate chemicals, fabricate materials, produce energy and enhance our environment. The patented platform and growing technical database provide safer, lower cost, and higher performing solutions for multiple billion-dollar markets from next-generation battery materials, to fragrances and fuels all while significantly reducing toxic waste and carbon emissions.
We currently have collaborations with USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a number of industry partnerships to expedite our time to market while maintaining our technical expertise in plant-based nano-chemistry.
The bio-based industry is fairly diverse, in that you usually have to work and have knowledge up and down the value chain from the crop innovations to the production logistics, ever change economics, engineering and then end-product applications. I love connecting dots to figure out how to create value within the system. Im a firm believer that theres a lot of value creation still on the table and with collaborations, throughout the supply chain, there are many developments to be made to capture that value.
(VK): One of the biggest industry changes has been the pivot (or platform expansion) of renewable companies and product development due to the decreased price of crude oil. The current economic environment has forced companies to either abandon renewable fuels applications for their technologies or to innovate their products to other, higher-value, product applications.
Sylvatexs green nano-chemistry technology is well positioned to thrive within this economic environment, such as the low price of oil, both with the fuel enhancer application and as a process solution for industries such as energy storage, flavours and fragrances, and agrochemicals, to name just a few. Although it has been a little painful to navigate in the long run it is very healthy for innovation to come out of the floor of price points and drives pressure to create low cost – higher value solutions, which is exactly what we have done.
(DS): What is the biggest professional challenge youve faced?
(VK): Trying to do it all with such little resources; weve done a great job expanding our technology platform, developing key commercial partnerships and other foundational collaborations on a shoestring budget. Its really quite remarkable what the Sylvatex team has accomplished, but it definitely wasnt easy.
(DS): What advice would you give someone looking to get started in the bio-based industry?
(VK): Have your supply chain in place to make sure you can compete on a cost basis. Also, make sure your technology has superior properties and isnt just a replacement of existing petroleum-derived products.
(DS): Announced this month, @SylvatexIncentered into a joint development agreement (JDA) with Valicor what more can you tell me about that?
(VK): The JDA will oversee the development, construction, and commercialization of Sylvatexs MicroX technology, converting distillers corn oil and other plant-based oil feedstocks into Sylvatexs proprietary MicroX renewable blendstock. The JDA will also accelerate commercial-scale engineering and expedite early market sales of the MicroX blendstock.
Sylvatex and Valicor share the commitment to waste resource recovery and upcycling of biomaterials to create valuable solutions for industry. This partnership will benefit both the environment and stakeholders by repurposing materials, maximising green chemistry processing (allowing for substantially lower production costs), and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This agreement marks the commencement of a long-term partnership with Valicor, a leader in conversion technologies. Sylvatex and Valicor have enjoyed a strong collaborative relationship, advancing innovations. We look forward to expanding our partnership to create value and better utilise existing assets.
(DS): Youre based in the US; can the US learn from how Europe approaches the bio-industry? And vice versa?
(VK): Europe seems to be much further ahead of the curve on understanding the direct and indirect value of the bio-based/green chemistry industry. Not only are many of the key industry partners in Europe, but there are growing government programmes and other drivers that are fostering the industry. The US has a lot to learn from Europe on these fronts.
The US has done a good job of developing the life cycle analysis for different pathways of feedstock and processes to allow for data-driven innovation and incentive programmes. From what Ive seen the Low Carbon Fuel Standard run by part of California Air Resources Board (@AirResources) is one of the most sophisticated programmes to help better understand great opportunities and there is a lot to learn from this across industries and continents.
(DS): Youre due to speak at World Bio Marketsin Amsterdam what are you most looking forward to at the show?
(VK): Connecting with potentialindustry partners and reconnecting with old friends in the industry. Were all in a much different position then we have been in the past with our commercial efforts and I really look forward to developing great collaborative opportunities with them.
(DS): What is your favourite bio-based product and why?
(DS): Thanks so much, Virginia. I look forward to catching up with you in Amsterdam next month.
Read the last 5 minutes with Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica.
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