Biocatalysis is a promising route to decarbonise essential chemicals like ammonia, hydrogen, and plastics. However, bioproduction has historically faced slow R&D cycles and key scaleup bottlenecks. With notable exceptions, commercial endeavours have been limited to low-volume, high-value products.
We are interested in new pathways and tools that could overcome these barriers and unlock the true power of biology to clean some of the most polluting industrial sectors.
- Microbial biocatalysis
- Cell-free biocatalysis
- Bioreactor scaleup
- Novel bioreactors and biohybrids (e.g. bioelectrochemistry)
- Computational biology, from gene discovery to process engineering
- RELEVANT BACKGROUNDS
- Synthetic biology, molecular biology, biochemistry related to either biocatalysis, enzyme engineering, enzyme expression, cell culture
- Bioelectrochemistry (microbial or enzymatic), electrochemistry
- Computational biology, systems biology, soft condensed matter physics
- Industrial biotechnology experience, for instance with enzyme production or bioreactor scaleup
- Nice to have: fundamentals of chemical and process engineering
Engineered carbon cycles will be crucial for net zero, through both negative emissions and solutions to decarbonise hard-to-abate industries. Direct Air Capture has many strengths: low physical footprint, high storage durability and ease of measurement. However, even as a $100-150/ton target seems achievable, the sheer energy cost could hinder the scaleability of DAC on meaninful timescales. The falling cost of renewables only offer a partial answer to that challenge.
We are exploring novel DAC designs that could slash energy requirements, without compromising on capex costs. In addition to obvious sequestration pathways, a smart integration with CO2 utilisation could provide sustainable carbon feedstock to decarbonise chemicals.
- Radical energy efficiency across CO2 capture and release (e.g. passive designs, new regeneration beyond classic temperature vacuum swing)
- Synergetic integration of CO2 capture with sequestration or conversion
- New catalysis approaches for efficient CO2 conversion
- Materials and supply chain design that promote learning curves and faster downcosting trajectories
- RELEVANT BACKGROUNDS
- Chemical or process engineering with direct experience in CCUS, DAC, or more broadly in gas ad/desorption cycles
- Physical chemistry, experience in developing and optimising CO2 sorbents (zeolites, MOFs, carbon-based materials, alkali metals, ...)
- Catalysis and CO2 conversion: electro, photo, thermal. Experience in design and optimisation of catalysts and reactors
- Nice to have: process optimisation, waste heat recovery, CO2 storage, techno economic modelling, life cycle assessment
Mineralisation occurs when certain rocks are exposed to CO2, which binds with calcium, magnesium or other elements to form carbonate minerals. This phenomenon naturally removes 0.3 gigaton per year and could be enhanced to multi-gigaton scale by 2050. Mineralisation has three unique advantages: chemical reactions require no energy input, the reactive minerals are in almost unlimited supply, and sequestration into rocks ensure maximum permanence. However, the reaction rate is very slow, the distribution of optimal resources is poorly understood, and certain methods face other challenges across water use, safety, logistics scaleup, and carbon uptake measurement.
We are scoping opportunities to remove these bottlenecks and unlock the gigaton potential of carbon mineralisation. This impact area being relatively unexplored compared to other pathways, we believe that several whitespaces exist for radical improvement.
- Mapping of alkaline resources: natural (basalts, peridotites, serpentinites) and human-made (mining and industrial waste)
- Improve reaction speed and mass transfer via process engineering, novel reactors, biological agents and other catalysts
- Synergetic integration with agriculture (enhanced rock weathering) or industrial operations
- MRV: measurement, reporting and verification of carbon uptake
- Scaleable logistics to move large material quantities
- Optimised in-situ mineralisation for CO2 storage
- Carbon-negative concrete
- Relevant Backgrounds
- Geosciences focused on CO2 mineralisation
- Chemical or process engineering with experience in CCUS, DAC, mineral extraction, fluid flow in porous media
- Mining, construction, industrial waste management
- Biotechnology or biology related to mineralisation
- Geospatial data modeling
- Nice to have: techno economic modelling, MRV, life cycle assessment
The ocean is the largest carbon sink on the planet, holding 50 times more than the atmosphere, and naturally absorbing a quarter of anthropogenic emissions. Meanwhile, severe climate impacts are already felt by marine ecosystems. Ocean CDR has the potential to reach gigaton scale, with no land or freshwater bottleneck, and many potential co-benefits in restoring ecosystems and countering acidification. However, current approaches face numerous challenges, from operating in marine environments to assessing net negativity and environmental impacts.
We are exploring ocean CDR ideas across two main categories. Biotic methods use photosynthesis to produce marine biomass, coupled with various sequestration mechanisms. Abiotic methods, such as ocean alkalinity enhancement (OAE) and electrochemical seawater splitting, leverage the carbonate system to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and lock it away for millenia.
- OAE: efficient production of optimised alkalinity sources via new catalytic approaches (electro, thermal, photo, bio), alkalinity transport
- Electrochemical seawater splitting: better materials and stack design to improve reaction performance, novel uses for acid streams
- Scaleable microalgae production (synthetic biology, better reactors, etc) and seaweed cultivation systems
- Algae processing innovations for sequestration and valorisation
- Hybrid methods: bioelectrochemistry, bioweathering, metals recovery, coupled CO2 utilisation, deep sea interactions
- Siting synergies with water flows, marine power and other infrastructure
- MRV: measurement, reporting and verification of carbon uptake
- Preventing adverse effects like heavy metals release, nutrient depletion, invasive species, counter mechanisms that inhibit CO2 drawdown
- IDEAL BACKGROUNDS
- Chemical engineering and/or electrochemistry, with experience in water treatment, electrolysis, electrodialysis, flow batteries
- Bioengineering, microalgae, synthetic biology, photobioreactors
- Geochemistry, oceanography, ocean carbon cycles
- Naval and marine engineering
- Nice to have: MRV, techno economic modelling, life cycle assessment
The world needs to produce 70% more food calories by 2050 to feed 10 billion human beings. At the same time, agriculture is already feeling the heat from climate change, with more extreme droughts, floods, and hurricanes. Mainstream farming has contributed to soil erosion, groundwater depletion, deforestation to clear land for crops and livestock, and a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, among other impacts. Left unadressed, this perfect storm implies massive disruptions to global food security, biodiversity, and climate mitigation efforts.
We are evaluating the feasibility of an outlandish idea: turning coastal deserts into farmland by misting seawater to create temperate microclimate. This approach has the potential to counter erosion and create new arable land, without the need to clear land or withdraw freshwater, and with a much higher energy efficiency compared to other desert food production techniques. With minor adaptation, the system could also be used to efficiently cool urban areas in the same regions.
- Terraform arable land in coastal deserts with favourable wind patterns, retain or recycle soil nutrients and water content
- Optimise crop selection and other system parameters for each region
- Cool urban areas to reduce the local impact of warming temperatures
- Co-location with renewable power
- Business model and financing innovations
- Relevant Backgrounds
- Experience with large infrastructure development in renewables, agriculture (agrivoltaics), desalination, hydropower, naval construction, etc
- AgTech: irrigation and water management, robotics, mechatronics
- Agricultural sciences, soil science, horticulture, plant science
- Relevant commercial experience in one or more of the following markets: Middle East, Australia, California, Sahel, Peru
- Nice to have: mechanical engineering, fluid dynamics, machine learning, techno economic modelling
The areas outlined above are just a few we're currently working on. We're interested in building solutions to many more climate problems. If you have other ideas you'd like to explore with us, and where your skillset and background gives you an unfair advantage, please get in touch.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of things we are interested in:
- Critical metal supply and climate positive mining
- Bioengineered CDR, across biotech and biomass processing
- Solutions for methane and nitrous oxide emissions
- Frontier catalysis (electro, photo, thermal, plasma, bio)
- Computational biology, chemistry and materials science
- AI and quantum computing for hard climate problems
- Ultra high energy efficient computing infrastructure
- Carbon negative buildings (across materials and operations)
- Supply chain decarbonisation
- More Opportunities
- Advanced geothermal, nuclear, marine, solar and wind power
- Faster deployement of renewables and next-generation transmission
- Fast-tracking clean industrialisation in the developing world
- Industrial decarbonisation (cement, steel, chemicals, glass, industrial heat)
- Optimal processing and recycling of waste and wastewater streams
- Adaptation across infrastructure, cities, agriculture, clean water
- Robotics and automation applied to industrial climate solutions
- Intersection of space technologies and climate applications
You only want to work on things that are directly trying to solve climate change. It’s a singular focus for you and the only way you want to spend your time. You have some knowledge of the climate tech world and existing startups in the space.
You are technically outstanding in a relevant domain. A PhD in a relevant field is a big plus. You must be very comfortable reviewing and assessing scientific literature and be able to ideate technically. Your technical background directly relates to the impact areas we are looking to build in, or in an area that we believe could unlock high impact climate solutions.
You are a driven individual who has always pushed themselves to achieve the best outcome they can get. You’ve worked around problems in the past. Found innovative ways to get what you needed done. And you’re determined to see things through to the end. You’ve experienced failures in your professional or personal life that you had to overcome to get to where you are today.
You are able to explain complex topics simply. You understand the key message you need to get across. You have used successfully convinced others to collaborate with you on topics or approaches that you believe to be the most interesting.
You look for new and unexpected approaches when you’re solving problems. You’re open to new suggestions when you’re trying to solve a hard problem and actively seek input from others. You can break down complex challenges into component parts so that you can more effectively find innovative ways to solve them. Whether it’s the latest technical paper, or established techniques from another field, you explore many routes when looking for a solution.
You are convinced that starting a company is your best way to make the maximum impact on climate. You’ve thought about stepping into entrepreneurship, but haven’t felt like you can take the leap before now. You’re tired of focusing on academic goals and want to find a way to build and effect real world change, quickly.
Founders in Residence
Meet our current Founders in Residence who joined Marble to turn their skills into high impact climate startups.
Steven Bardey, PhDCatalysis, CO2 transformation, physical chemistry
Working on: smart integration of CO2 capture and recycling to decarbonise chemical feedstocks with high energy efficiency.
Jerome Unidad, PhDChemical engineering, materials science, hardware integration
Working on: breakthrough pathway for producing low carbon fuels at scale, that avoids current infrastructure bottlenecks.
Amandine Cadiau, PhDPhysical chemistry, carbon capture
Working on: next-generation direct air capture, with high energy efficiency for maximum scaleability
Paul Hervé, MScMechanical engineering, fluid dynamics
Working on: misting seawater in coastal arid regions to create stable microclimates, terraform new farmland and cool urban areas