Lux Research quarterly top-10 list includes 2 biorefining groups

By Erin Voegele | July 11, 2013

Lux Research recently released its top-10 list of innovative companies profiled during the second quarter of 2013. The list includes two biorefining companies, Ascenix BioTechnologies and AlterNRG Corp.

As part of its ongoing intelligence services, Lux Research profiled 420 companies across 18 emerging technology domains during the second quarter of this year. Each quarter, the firm’s team of analysts identifies the 10 most compelling companies profiled across its coverage areas. Each company is assigned a “Lux Take” rating, which range from strong caution to strong positive. A wait and see rating is assigned to companies that still face too much uncertainty to make a definitive call.

Ascenix BioTechnologies was assigned a wait and see rating under the biobased materials and chemicals category. According to Lux Research, the company’s route to methyl methacrylate doesn’t require propylene or cyanide and could have attractive economics.

 The University of Minnesota announced the startup company in March. According to information released by the U of M, Ascenix BioTechnology’s core technology was invented by Kechun Zhang, a chemical engineering and materials science professor in the university’s College of Science and Engineering.

While the technology could be applied to the production of biofuels and myriad chemicals, the U of M specified the company’s initial focus is on methylmethacrylate (MMA), a chemical used to make acrylic glass, paints, coatings, automotive parts and electronics.

Lux Research assigned AlterNRG a positive rating under the heading of alternative fuels. “In a space where companies are struggling to finance and build projects, AlterNRG is making sales from its high-temperature plasma gasification to convert a range of waste streams into syngas,” said Lux in a release.

Earlier this year, AlterNRG announced Wuhan Kaidi, which purchased its Westinghouse Plasma gasifier design and plasma torch systems in 2010, had successfully commissioned a unit at its demonstration facility in China. According to information released by the company, the Westinghouse plasma gasification unit is designed to convert approximately 100 tons per day of biomass waste into syngas.

For the first quarter of 2013, Lux Research included only one biorefining company in its top-10 list. The firm gave Carbolosic a wait and see rating under the heading of alternative fuels, biobased materials and chemicals. According to Lux, the company is developing a mechanocatalytic conversion of biomass to sugars without enzymes or acid.

In late 2012, Lux published a top-10 list of the year’s top-rated emerging technology companies. That list included algae company Solazyme, which was given a positive rating, and Itaconix, a biobased materials and chemical producer, which was also given a positive rating. At the same time, cellulosic ethanol company Beta Renewables was named to a top-10 list of companies to watch in 2013.