It’s not everyday that you see a nuclear startup creating a solution for circular economy, like Neutron Blue. This week Lex Hunstman, the CEO of Neutron Blue, discusses how he is leveraging the power of nuclear to reverse climate change.
Can you describe what your company does, the impact, and how it differs from other competitors in the space?
Neutron Blue regenerates carbon back into the existing hydrocarbon infrastructure for use again. We operate small modular platforms subsea where the military has successfully operated hundreds of small modular reactor platforms for decades. We merge state-of-the-art fluids system design mechanics with reactor design and electrochemistry to create an unbelievably cost-effective solution to the carbon problem. On-land and surface based nuclear energy solutions are prone to tremendously more risk than subsea energy platforms, making our technology far more reliable and safer than anything else out there.
What is the current ecosystem/market landscape and who are the main players?
Oil and gas (O&G) companies are the main players in the marketplace such as Total, BP, Exxon, Chevron, Halliburton, etc. The current practice for oil and gas production is to extract it from natural deposits which increases the carbon in circulation contributing to climate change.
How does the ecosystem seek to benefit from your technology?
Let’s back up for a minute and talk about the two ways polyethylene can be made:
- Ethane is extracted from natural gas through condensation, then reacted to ethylene, and then converted into polyethylene plastic.
- Methane is converted to ethylene over a metal catalyst with a partial oxidation reaction.
In either case, ethylene for polyethylene is made via natural gas components. Therefore, by converting carbon dioxide into methane, the existing polyethylene ecosystem sequesters a portion of that gas into useful solids that don’t return to the atmosphere. So, when an O&G company buys into Neutron Blue, they produce natural gas that is carbon negative.
Furthermore, extracting oil and gas is extremely risky business – a drilling deck is the most hazardous environment that O&G operators work on every day. Regenerated gas is not only better for the environment, but safer for the people in the industry.
Natural Gas is trending right now – it burns cleaner, and the use of cogeneration, fuel cells, and polyethylene production means that natural gas will continue to be an energy staple for years to come. There will only be more plastics, as wood and steel derived products will continue to be replaced with plastics (this is amazing for the environment). More and more companies are pushing for regenerated hydrocarbons, and this trend will continue until not a single cubic foot of gas is extracted due to regenerated carbon technologies.
About The Author
Co-Founder at The Impact
Daniel currently works at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. His original assignment was to maintain and update facility safety documentation for all facilities on-site, and perform risk analysis. Over time, his role has expanded to leading continuous improvement efforts through product management.
Concurrently, Daniel volunteers with Techstars, helping organize startup weekends, and with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, organizing events on the local and national levels of the organization. He also volunteers with One World, and previously with Powerhouse Ventures, to source and screen startups for potential investment.
Daniel holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from UC Davis, and recently completed coursework in energy innovation from Stanford. His passion is at the intersection of sustainability, innovation, and business.