It's the CEO swapping season.
LS9, which genetically engineers microbes to produce hydrocarbons and industrial chemicals, has a new CEO in Edward Dineen, who has many years of experience in petrochemicals. Most recently, he was the COO of LyondellBasell Industries, a large polymer and chemical company. He replaces Bill Haywood, a longtime oil industry veteran who replaced Bob Walsh, an alumni of Shell, who replaced Doug Cameron in 2007.
So that's four CEOs in a three to four year time span, and three of them were "scale-up" experts with industry experience and contacts that were expected to take LS9 from the lab bench to production. LS9 has inked pacts with Chevron and Proctor and Gamble, but, like most other biofuel startups, the company not managed to land the hundreds of millions of dollars required to move toward more commercial production. (Walsh took off to become the CEO of Aurora, which has since replaced CEOs and moved from producing algae for fuel to algae for food supplements.)
Meanwhile, Ze-Gen, which turns trash into energy by dipping it in molten iron, has appointed Walter Howard, a power industry veteran, to replace Bill Davis as CEO. Davis will stay on the board. Like LS9, Ze-Gen's technology is intriguing. It helps solve many of the economic and practical problems with gasification technology. Getting the large amounts of money required to become a full-fledged commercial venture, however, has been tough.
The U.S. produces 250 million tons of municipal waste a year, and when placed in landfills, this waste releases methane into the atmosphere. Ze-Gen's "I am Iron Man" technology would prevent those greenhouses gases, cut landfill costs, and allow cities to get natural gas from their trash.
--DuPont Apollo, the thin-film solar subsidiary inside the chemical giant, has won a contract to install a 1.3-megawatt rooftop array in Shenzhen, China. The array will produce around 1.5 million kilowatt hours of energy a year. See, Western companies do sometimes win in China. It is the largest thin film rooftop project in China, but likely will soon be surpassed.
--Lumeta, a startup with a giant, stick-on solar panel for commercial rooftops, has installed a 260-kilowatt system in Phoenix, its second commercial installation. The company also said that it has tested its panels in a wind tunnel at the University of Texas and found that they can withstand 190-mile-per-hour winds. Lumeta's panels don't need racks, so they cost less to install and there's less risk of being hurt in a storm. It's an interesting idea. More here.
--Finally, there are a bunch of guys in Mexico talking about carbon.