Researchers at University of Toronto Engineering and Carnegie Mellon University are using artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate progress in transforming waste carbon into a commercially valuable product with record efficiency. They leveraged AI to speed up the search for the key material in a new catalyst that converts carbon dioxide (CO2) into ethylene--a chemical precursor to a wide range of products, from plastics to dish detergent. The resulting electrocatalyst is the most efficient in its class. If run using wind or solar power, the system also provides an efficient way to store electricity from these renewable but intermittent sources. "Using clean electricity to convert CO2 into ethylene, which has a $60 billion global market, can improve the economics of both carbon capture and clean energy storage," says Professor Ted Sargent, one of the senior authors on a new paper published today in Nature.
As micro-molding gives way to "nano-molding," processors will need creative answers to the problems of handling flyspeck-sized parts. Farms may replace oil wells as the source of new plastics. Biopolymers made from cornstarch or other renewable feedstocks will supple-ment petrochemical-derived polymers in a wide range of applications. What if you could change the color of every part right at the machine? Instant color changes may be part of the coming era of "mass customization." New methods of polymer production will allow custom materials to be "programmed" for individual applications. Say Hello to Nano Molding The new frontier of injection molding is "shrinking," says Carl Schiffer, managing partner at Dr. Boy GmbH in Germany. Miniaturization in electronic and medical parts will help push today's micro-molding toward "nano"-size parts. Machinery will need to evolve to meet the "nano" challenge. Shot sizes must become smaller, and screw diameters are already shrinking from the standard lower limit of 14 mm.
The first step of the partnership will see Nuritas, a biotech and R&D start-up that uses artificial intelligence and new technologies for the discovery of novel food and health ingredients, grant an exclusive royalty-based license to BASF to commercialise one of its existing peptides. A second part of the deal will focus on the discovery of new functional peptides, based on health areas that are strategically important to BASF, using Nuritas' technological expertise and AI platform. According to BASF, peptide networks of focus in the collaboration will be natural, food-derived, patented and of significant benefit to health – including peptides that bring about anti-inflammatory responses. "Cooperating with an innovative and agile start-up like Nuritas enables us to further expand our already broad portfolio of health solutions," commented Saori Dubourg, head of BASF's Nutrition & Health Business. Nuritas' unique platform combines DNA analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) to predict, unlock, and validate peptides from natural sources.
BASF Venture Capital is joining a group of prominent investors in the Series A investment round of Zapata Computing, Inc. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Zapata is developing both a powerful software platform as well as specific applications for Global 1000 companies to effectively use a range of emerging quantum computing hardware. By investing in Zapata, BASF Venture Capital supports BASF's strategic goal to take advantage of the opportunities that digitalisation offers along the entire value chain. Quantum computing will enable BASF experts to very efficiently investigate complex questions and it will further shorten the time it takes to launch new products. Zapata, which was spun-out of Harvard University in 2017, will use the funds raised to expand its scientific team and further develop its software platform to meet growing customer demand. BASF joins a round led by Comcast Ventures and Prelude Ventures, together with new and existing investors including Pitango Ventures, Pillar Venture Capital, and The Engine.