The Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 airplanes are two early examples. What sets these planes apart from older planes is that their body and wings are made of composite materials rather than aluminum. They are more fuel efficient and fly farther. This reduces the cost of travel and opens up new routes. Passengers also enjoy benefits like increased humidity and cabin pressure. Humidity is increased from 4% to 15% and cabin pressure is increased from the equivalent of 8,000 feet above sea level to 6,000 feet above sea level. The bottom line is that these planes cost less to operate and provide passengers with ground level comfort and less jet leg.

The Threes C's of CO2

Posted by on in Sustainability

As we enter into yet another global summit on climate change, this time in Paris over the next month, I am expecting the pattern of previous summits to continue. Backroom deals, posturing, pointing figures, smiling photo ops, speeches, and all of the other things politicians do well. But my faith in this summit actually driving any meaningful reductions five to ten years out is very low, in the context of a world with falling energy prices and national balance sheets requiring growth at all costs. I fall in the camp that believes market driven technology is needed if the climate change problem is to ever be solved. Unfortunately, CO2, a key greenhouse gas (GHG), is a highly stable molecule. Both capturing and converting it to a product of value is typically an uphill battle with highly prohibitive costs. But living plants have evolved over billions of years to become highly efficient users of this gas, so what's stopping us from figuring out how to do the same? Let's see what a few smart people around the world are working on every day:

Biology: The New Building Blocks

Posted by on in Sustainability

I think it’s safe to say the cat is out of the bag when it comes to Synthetic biology. In case you missed it, a synbio start-up company called Zymergen, commercializing a biology-driven materials discovery platform, raised a whopping $44M in its series A mid-June 2015. While this is a big A round by any standards, it’s even more significant when looking back at the performance of venture-backed industrial biotech and biofuel companies over the last decade (reminder - it’s not a pretty picture).

Recycling is a transformation process converting waste materials into useful products. Many of us are involved in recycling firsthand; in my case, every two weeks, the waste disposal company truck shows up in my neighborhood to collect a mix of paper, glass, plastic, steel and aluminum containers for recycling. I should note, however, that this is only the first step in the overall recycling process flow. In the 3R’s “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” environmental practice, recycling is now playing a key role in addressing the supply of critical materials. At stake is the availability of adequate material resources as the global population marches upwards to 9.6 billion by 2050. Other driving forces include reduction in environmental pollution and meeting evolving regulatory standards in the push for a more sustainable future. Imagine getting access to metals without resorting to strip mining, open-pit mining and the associated land destruction and environmental damage! How about recapturing scarce materials from the billions of discarded electronic devices? Designing manufacturing processes to convert pollutants into useful products! Protecting trees, the lungs of the planet, by increasing paper recycling. Converting greenhouse gases into useful products! With sustainability a key part of our focus, Pangaea Ventures monitors innovation, new approaches and emerging companies in materials recycling.

Manufacturing Heading into Better Times

Posted by on in Sustainability

“The manufacturing sector comprises establishments engaged in the mechanical, physical, or chemical transformation of materials, substances, or components into new products”.1 From the early days of simplistic tooling to the mechanization approach for textile mills in Britain followed by Henry Ford’s assembly line, manufacturing practices continue to evolve, impacting every aspect of our lives. Advanced manufacturing systems are not only needed to support job creation but also to meet the needs of a growing population. By 2040, it is estimated that there will be around 9 billion people requiring the basic necessities of life! Pangaea Ventures’ focus on advanced materials provides a unique view on emerging manufacturing technologies. We like to see advantaged features, such as, sustainability, low cost, robustness, energy efficiency and scalability.