Chemicals are the foundation of society and world economies.
The trillion-dollar chemical value chain starts with just a few raw materials: petroleum, natural gas, and air. From these few ingredients we derive the base chemicals that form the foundation of modern society, like hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, aromatics, and olefins. These molecules are used to produce fuel, fertilizer, nylon for clothing, medical equipment, light-weight plastic components for cars, and even cosmetics.
The processes that enable the chemical value chain are powered almost entirely by burning fossil fuels. Combustion in this sector is currently responsible for more than a gigaton of carbon emissions every year.
Industrial decarbonization will not be easy. Hard-to-abate sectors like heavy-duty transport, the airline industry, and the chemical industry face significant challenges in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing carbon emissions in the chemical industry — which produces inexpensive everyday products that make our lives safer and easier — is a monumental challenge.
The question is, how do we reduce emissions while maintaining our standard of life?
We’ve commercialized a completely new type of chemical reactor that uses light instead of heat to drive chemical reactions. This means we’ve eliminated the need to burn fossil fuels to power foundational chemical reactions, effectively replacing combustion with light powered by renewable electricity.
Thermoreactor VS. Photoreactor
Traditional thermal reactors must be built out of extremely strong materials to withstand combustion, with some materials costing up to $45,000 per ton. Our reactors are built from inexpensive and widely available materials, dramatically reducing reactor cost.
Carbon taxes will force the cost of fossil fuels to increase, effectively increasing operating costs for companies using them. Because our photoreactors do not burn fossil fuels, they have the potential to reduce or even eliminate any associated carbon tax.
We are designing our photoreactors to produce chemicals at a price point that eliminates the need for customers to pay a green premium for lower-carbon-intensity-products.
Our scalable, reliable Rigel™ photoreactor uses the principles of plasmonic photocatalysis to combine light from renewable electricity and photocatalytic nanoparticles to power chemical reactions with light instead of heat. As such, we are able to cost-effectively advance industrial decarbonization by eliminating industrial heating and electrifying the chemical industry.
While the chemical industry was built by fire and heat, it now has a clear path to a sustainable future by simply transitioning to light.