I try and understand why
I was the founding CEO of one of the very first bio based chemical and materials companies and I can attest to how challenging it is to build a recombinant strain that hits all the performance specs, the downstream purification and the chemical catalysis. DuPont and Cargill’s efforts to scale 1,3 PDO and lactic acid, and their downstream polymers are good case studies highlighting the challenges scaling all the core unit operations and also the huge daunting task of developing a whole new material. Customer adoption is a long, expensive and risky endeavor. I wish Zymergen well and they will need way more money, time and the right talent.
I think Hyaline is to be a substitute for colorless polyimide, not necessarily it's polyimide.
I may be missing something fundamental about Zymergen -- why make the polyimide monomers microbially in the first place?
Is there something about them structurally that makes them impossible to make using ordinary synthetic chemistry? (I can't imagine what that would be) Is it about improving efficiency? (I can't imagine fermentation would be competitive there, for simple molecules) Is it just the cool factor? Why bother?