Green chemistry startup Segetis takes a Lego-like approach to developing its chemicals and materials: Take the right pieces from biomass waste like wood and crop residue, and you can build some really cool stuff. This morning the two-year-old Golden Valley, Minn.-based startup said it had added years of green chemical cred with the appointment of Jim Stoppert as its new CEO. Stoppert was a former exec of bioproduct development at Dow, Cargill and NatureWorks, two chemical giants and a green chemistry joint venture startup, respectively.
With a new CEO and $15 million raised last year from Khosla Ventures, the company is now looking to push its technology into commercialization. Segetis has been focused on research and development for the past year, but plans to move into a demonstration facility in 2009 or early 2010, Business VP Snehal Desai, also a NatureWorks vet, told us.
How does green chemistry work? “The liberation of that carbon from the biomass is ultimately what we’re all trying to get to,” Desai said. Once you get those precious carbons separated you can recombine them to build chemicals, materials and fuels, some with similar qualities to petrochemicals. Desai added that if other companies came up with a cheap and energy-efficient way to free up those carbons, Segetis would consider a partnership. Segetis’ actual IP resides in the company’s approach to manipulating those carbon molecules in the form of binary monomers, which can then be assembled into valuable and useful polymers.
It’s not entirely clear, however, when a Segetis bioplastic bottle would make it into consumers’ hands; Desai says the company’s technology remains in the early development stage and Segetis is still open to either manufacturing bioproducts itself or potentially licensing its green chemical processes to manufacturing partners.