Travel back in time 2-4 billion years ago, when the first living organisms inhabited swamps around the globe. These organisms were feeding off and consuming the high CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. The bio-industrial start-up SecondCircle is working to cultivate similar organisms and make them feed off the gas of industrial producers to save the environment and enable a circular economy by converting CO2 into valuable products.
In March 2020, the company made it through the selection process to the BII Business Acceleration Academy to develop their technical solution into a commercial product that can have a positive impact across the globe. The team consists of the three co-founders from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). Torbjørn Ølshøj Jensen is a researcher and did his Ph.D. in the start-up company BioGasol. Stephanie Redl is a postdoctoral researcher and has co-founded ODity.bio. Alex Toftgaard Nielsen is a professor and co-founder of the companies Cysbio and Mycropt. Mycropt was part of the BAA program in the fall of 2018. Read more about the company.
We had a talk with co-founder Torbjørn Ølshøj Jensen about SecondCircle and the technology.
What problem do you solve?
Enormous amounts of CO2 are emitted into the atmosphere every year – particularly by the industry. Measures, such as carbon taxes, are implemented to incentivize industrial companies to reduce their carbon footprint, and market demand for sustainable products is on the rise. Many companies have committed to being carbon neutral within 5-25 years and are looking for ways to do so. The current options are too expensive as they require similar complex infrastructure as required for the production of fine chemicals.
How does it work?
Our technology is based on a bacterium that consumes CO2 at high temperatures. We capture CO2 from industrial facilities in a bioreactor and convert it into products such as feed for chicken and fish, enabling a circular economy. As the process is run at 60 °C, there is little or no risk of contamination, making it a unique and cheap solution for companies. It also eliminates expensive emission taxes and reduces our customer’s environmental footprint.
How far have you come with the development?
We have developed the bacteria and done pilot-scale testing in a 40-liter bioreactor. To implement the solution in industries, we will need to scale it to around 1000 cubic meters. One thousand cubic meters may seem like a lot, but it can be compared to the size of wastewater treatment facilities.
What is your experience with the BAA program?
Overwhelming and interesting! We might have thought we could do a proper patent search ourselves. Still, when we sit down with a patent agent in the Business Acceleration Academy, we see it differently. The program is giving us many new tools, and people are very helpful. It has been intense with much hard work which undoubtedly has matured our company.
Want to hear pitches from the six start-ups in the Business Acceleration Academy? Join our live broadcast of DemoDay on May 27. Sign up here.
Meet the other start-ups in the Business Acceleration Academy:
Health tech start-up: Paragit Solutions
Bio-industrial start-up: Chromologics
Therapeutics start-up: BOOST Pharma
Health tech start-up: WARD 24/7