Houston-based Fluence Analytics, specialised in continuous analytics and process control solutions for the polymer and biopharmaceutical industries, has been named a Top 50 global advanced manufacturing startup by software company CB Insights, according to an 18 August announcement. The Inaugural Advanced Manufacturing 50 is a list of the most promising private advanced manufacturing companies in the world, segmented into 16 different cohorts. Fluence Analytics was one of three companies featured in the R&D Optimisation category.
The process analytics, optimisation and control solutions for the polymer and biopharma industries developed by the company are based on real-time data streams generated by the company’s products. Fluence Analystics has two product lines: ACOMP a polymer smart manufacturing system, and ARGEN, which is used to accelerate and optimises the development of novel biotherapeutics. ACOMP currently enables the development and production of next-generation polymer materials and, said the company, will also soon support the scale-up of chemical recycling (plastic upcycling) technologies. Interest in these technologies is rapidly rising, as mechanical recycling, while very useful for a range of applications, has several challenges due to additives and altered properties of reprocessed material.
Fluence Analytics has therefore recently embarked on a new circular economy project, launched in partnership with academic research partner, Tulane University’s Energy Institute, together with investor and customer, Diamond Edge Ventures, the Corporate Venture Capital arm of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation, focused on the conversion of plastic waste into reusable raw materials through depolymerisation technology.
A simple example of depolymerisation is the conversion of polyethylene back to its ethylene monomer, which can subsequently be re-polymerised into a virgin quality polyethylene. The new project, which started with a technology and market assessment of the circular economy, has already provided insights into the available technologies in the sector. Using these insights, Fluence Analytics has developed a roadmap for subsequent phases of activity targeting the implementation of analytics and control solutions to enable economic scale up of new depolymerisation technologies. The next phase of the project is a technical proof of concept.
“When we were still incubating on Tulane’s campus, we always envisioned enabling more sustainable production of polymer materials. ACOMP […] has already contributed toward that objective, but the possibility of directly participating in the circular economy via new depolymerisation technologies is a completely new dimension for us,” said Alex Reed, co-founder, President and CCO of Fluence Analytics.
“We now have a chance to work with the industry to fully close the loop, both in process control and renewable feedstocks, across polymer production, which is a driving force in our company’s mission.”
“With the worldwide drive to reduce plastic waste and to recycle valuable chemical feedstocks, the joint effort with Fluence Analytics should impact not only the plastics industry in Louisiana but in the world at large,” added Eric Smith, Associate Director of the Tulane University Energy Institute.