The future is based in biology

Friday 26 Jan 2024

Scientific breakthroughs in the study of nature and how to mimic it have fuelled a biotechnology revolution. Scion is leading the way for New Zealand in this area and supporting industry to solve some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges.

Nature is the ultimate designer, thanks to evolution, demonstrating the fundamental adapt-or-die philosophy that underpins the very essence of life.

Why is this more relevant than ever? Because globally we are facing environmental threats never seen in our history. And currently, our reliance on fossil fuels and petrochemical resources for medicine, food security, fuel and energy are absolute.

The need to find alternatives to fossil fuels is imperative. And the area that will have the most impact will be in the industrial biotech space. Why? Scale baby, scale.

With 97 million barrels of fossil fuel produced every single day world- wide for chemicals, polymers and fuel, solutions need to be at scale, or the impact just won’t be big enough, or quick enough.

Industry itself is increasingly working towards addressing the climate crisis, minimising carbon and waste emissions, and finding alternatives to petrochemicals and fossil fuels.

Scion is currently working alongside two companies to help secure funding bids and build pilot-scale plants in New Zealand, with another five commercial science and research partnerships currently in place.

One such partnership is with Plentyful, set to scale up production of PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates – biopolymers with similar characteristics to petroleum-derived polymers), turning organic waste from industry into bio- based materials like plastics and resins, as an alternative to oil-based plastics.

Scion is working alongside Plentyful to establish a pilot-scale plant in Marton, utilising significant waste streams from food, viticulture and wood. Managing director Jayden Klinac says Scion and Plentyful are aligned with research that supports the development of New Zealand’s circular bioeconomy.

“At Plentyful, we envision a New Zealand where technology meets sustainability, turning yesterday’s waste into tomorrow’s resource. “Partnering with Scion, we’re scaling innovations that promise a cleaner, resource-efficient future, ensuring ‘waste’ becomes a word of the past for the coming generations.”

Scion is also working with geothermal research and innovation company Upflow to build a pilotscale plant that turns carbon dioxide and methane emissions into animal feed.

Building solid relationships globally will ensure New Zealand has access to the very latest in research and technology. This, alongside further investment within the organisation, are key drivers for Scion in accelerating research and capabilities for New Zealand.

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Source and image credit: Scion

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