In the wild, fermentation is slow and unpredictable, as many sourdough bread makers and beer enthusiasts discovered during the early days of the pandemic. And that’s what most people envision when they hear the word fermentation. But this type of fermentation has been successfully scaled for the commercial production of breads, beers and kombucha, among other products.
Now, scientists are able to engineer the fermentation process to use microbes to manufacture consumer products like palm oil, cosmetics, cheese, medicines and even plastics on an industrial scale. This process is called precision fermentation and it can be used to make biology-derived products that have a much lower impact on climate and land and water use than the same products made conventionally.
COMPANY PROFILE: POW.BIO
Making fermentation 100x better. Not kidding.
Funding to Date
What are the basics behind the science at Pow.Bio?
"Pow.Bio is all about using biology to manufacture things. So with the same technology that's used to make yogurt or kombucha or beer, we can make plastics, clothing dyes, food ingredients, literally anything in the world.
People make carbon-heavy product like concrete out of biology so we're excited to make biology a viable manufacturing platform for the future because we see it as a strongly sustainable way to address many of the world's imminent needs."
A Career as a Founder - Shannon Hall
Why is this technology important and what are the current global problems that will be solved with this type of tech?
"You know two big things that are right in front of us: the impacts of climate change which we feel every day and food security. We can certainly address what kinds of foods we can grow in different places or what kinds of things we can extract from the earth. Like how much do we want to rely on the petroleum supply chain? There's a growing world population, we've just moved from 7 billion to 8 billion people and we expect to have 10 billion people in the not too distant future. How can we make sure everybody has equal access to good healthy nutritious food?"
Why isn't the technology widely in use yet?
"It's like the early 80s working on electronics. That infrastructure doesn't yet exist but it will. And we're part of building it in a much better, more technical way. The second challenge is that because of the newness of biology as a manufacturing platform, most of what is made with biology is pretty expensive and that is a barrier to getting market adoption. But we believe with some of the technology Pow.Bio is building that we can make that much less expensive and really push these innovations into the marketplace."
Appreciating the magic.