A cleaner, greener chemical-manufacturing method
Myriam Sbeiti and Daniela Blanco (with the help of Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Miguel Modestino)
The startup Sunthetics is harnessing energy from sunlight to fuel the electrochemical and thermochemical reactions necessary to transform plant waste into the precursor materials needed to produce nylon – and much, much more.
It began in 2017, when Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Miguel Modestino garnered a Global Change Award from the H&M Foundation for a proposed method of using water, plant waste, and solar energy to manufacture nylon, instead of the fossil fuel currently used. Now, two of his students, undergraduate Myriam Sbeiti (‘18) and doctoral candidate Daniela Blanco, have joined forces to launch Sunthetics, in order to shepherd that innovation from the lab to the real world. They envision the process being of interest to not just the fashion industry – which produces millions of tons of petrochemical-based nylon each year, thereby generating significant emissions of carbon dioxide – but to anyone in the broader chemical-manufacturing world seeking greener production methods.