Q: What role do you see your startup playing in the world of ​​sustainable materials?

A: Atacama Biomaterials is an organization dedicated to advancing sustainable materials through cutting-edge technology. With my co-founder Jose Tomas Dominguez we’ve been working on developing our technology since 2019. We initially founded and maintained the corporate under a distinct name in 2020 sandbox funds next 12 months. In 2021 we did it The motors accelerator, Blueprint, and adjusted our name to Atacama Biomaterials in 2022 MITdesignX Program.

This technology we’ve developed allows us to create our own data and materials library using artificial intelligence and machine learning and serves as a platform that’s horizontally applicable to varied industries – biofuels, biological pharmaceuticals and even mining. Vertically, we produce cost-effective, regionally sourced and environmentally friendly bio-based polymers and packaging – i.e. naturally compostable plastics as a flagship product, alongside AI products.

Q: What motivated you to get entangled in biomaterials and located Atacama?

A: I come from Chile, a rustic with a ravishing, wealthy geography and nature where we will see all the issues arising from industry, waste management and pollution. We named our company Atacama Biomaterials since the Atacama Desert in Chile – probably the greatest places to see the celebrities on the planet – is becoming a plastic waste dump, like many other places on Earth. I care deeply about sustainability and am emotionally invested in stopping these problems. Considering that manufacturing is accountable for 29 percent of worldwide carbon emissions, it is obvious that sustainability plays a task in defining technology and entrepreneurship, in addition to a socio-economic dimension.

When I first got here to MIT, I desired to develop software within the architecture department Design and calculation group, with MIT professors Svafa Gronfeldt as co-advisor and Regina Barzilay as committee member. During my doctoral research, I investigated machine learning methods that simulate pedestrian movement to grasp how people move in space. In my work I used lots of plastics for 3D printing and couldn’t stop fascinated by sustainability and climate change. So I reached out to professors of materials science and mechanical engineering to check biopolymers and degradable bio-based materials. That’s how I met my co-founder, as we each worked with MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld. Together we were a part of considered one of the primary teams on the planet to 3D print wood fiber, which is difficult – it’s slow and expensive – and quickly moved to sustainable packaging.

I then won a scholarship MCSC (the MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium), which gave me the liberty to proceed research, and I finally got a postdoc in MIT chemical engineering under the supervision of MIT Professor Gregory Rutledge, a polymer physicist. This was unexpected for my skilled profession. Win Nucleate Eco Track 2022 and the MITdesignX Innovation Award in 2022 profiled Atacama Biomaterials as considered one of the emerging startups in Boston’s biotech and climate technology scene.

Q: How do you develop recent biomaterials?

A: My doctoral research, coupled with my background in materials engineering and molecular dynamics, led to the conclusion that the principles I studied to simulate pedestrian movements is also applicable to molecular engineering. This connection could seem unconventional, but for me it was a natural progression. At the start of my profession, I developed a feel for materials and understood their mechanics and physics.

With my experience and skills and using machine learning as a technological leap, I even have applied an analogous conceptual framework to simulate the trajectories of molecules and find potential applications in biomaterials. It was amazing to create this parallelism and shift. This allowed me to optimize state-of-the-art molecular dynamics software to run twice as fast as traditional technologies my algorithm presented on the International Conference on Machine Learning this 12 months. This may be very essential because such a simulation normally lasts every week. A two-day limit due to this fact has significant implications for scientists and industry in materials science, chemical engineering, computer science and related fields. This work had a serious impact on the founding of Atacama Biomaterials, where we developed our own AI for the usage of our materials. To reduce the environmental impact of producing, Atacama goals to scale back carbon dioxide emissions related to the manufacturing means of its polymers by 16.7 percent through the usage of renewable energy.

Another thing is that I trained as an architect in Chile and my degree had a design component. I feel design allows me to grasp problems at a really high level and understand how things are connected. It contributed to developing a holistic vision for Atacama because it allowed me to leap from one technology or discipline to a different and understand broader applications at a conceptual level. Our design approach also meant that sustainability was at the guts of our work from the beginning, moderately than simply a plus or additional cost.

Q: What role did MITdesignX play in the event of Atacama?

A: I even have known Svafa Grönfeldt, the school director at MITdesignX, for nearly six years. She was the co-supervisor of my doctoral thesis and we had a mentor-mentee relationship. I like the incontrovertible fact that she has created an area throughout the architecture department where people excited about business and entrepreneurship can thrive. She and CEO Gilad Rosenzweig gave us incredible advice and we received significant support from mentors. For example, Daniel Tsai has helped us with mental property, including a crucial patent for Atacama. And we’re still in contact with the remainder of the cohort. I actually like this “Design your Company” approach, which I find quite unique since it gives us the chance to take into consideration who we wish to be as designers, technologists and entrepreneurs. By studying user insights, we were also capable of understand the broad applicability of our research and align our vision with market needs, ultimately making Atacama an organization with a holistic perspective on sustainable materials development.

Q: How is Atacama approaching scaling and what are the immediate next steps for the corporate?

A: When I take into consideration achieving our vision, I feel truly inspired by my three-year-old daughter. I would like her to experience a world stuffed with trees and wildlife when she is 100 years old, and I hope Atacama will contribute to such a future.

Back to the designer perspective: We designed the whole process holistically, from raw materials to material development, incorporating AI and advanced manufacturing. Having proven that there may be demand for the materials we develop and having tested our products, manufacturing processes and technologies in critical environments, we are actually able to scale. Our level of technology readiness is comparable to NASA (Level 4).

We have a proof of concept: a biodegradable and recyclable packaging material that’s cost- and energy-efficient as an enabler for clean energy in high-volume manufacturing. We have received pre-financing and are scaling sustainably by utilizing globally available resources, for instance by converting machines from the paper industry. As outlined within the recent MIT Industrial Liaison and STEX Program Sustainability Conference, unlike our competitors, we’ve cost parity with current packaging materials and low energy consumption processes. And we also demonstrated demand for our products, which was a crucial milestone. Our next steps include the strategic expansion of our production capacities and research facilities. We are currently exploring constructing a factory in Chile and organising a research and development laboratory and production facility within the USA

This article was originally published at news.mit.edu