Origin Materials: Roman Wolff's Emerson Exchange Presentation (Transcript)

On October 25, 2022, Roman Wolff represented Origin Materials at the Emerson Exchange Conference. He took part in a session, titled "Digitally Powering the Energy Transition." A complete video of the event can be found here. For convenience or those who wish to read, rather than watch, here is a transcription of Wolff's presentation:


"Thanks for a great framework. Let me start by saying welcome and thanks everyone for coming here to listen to our story, and to hear how Origin thinks we're going to make a great difference and be part of the solution. So my name is Roman Wolff, and I am vice president of engineering for Origin Materials. I joined the company two years ago; that makes me a veteran at Origin. I'm responsible for capital projects, responsible for engineering and manufacturing. I'm suppose to use "bucket list" in a sentence today, so this is Origin's "bucket list" -- Origin enables the transition to sustainable carbon-negative materials. You heard Mike talk about energy; Origin is focused on materials.

The second thing to remember about Origin -- we're building our first world-class plant in Geismar, Louisiana with many more to come. Third is we are on a journey to operational excellence via automation. We want our plants to run safer, greener, longer, and faster. Our products will support the decarbonization goals for our customers.

Origin by the numbers - we are a materials company. We have innovative technology, and we're looking to make carbon-negative materials for many applications. We have cost-advantaged feedstocks that puts us ahead of the game. Our technology for decarbonizing materials is validated and protected by 19 patents. We have a huge addressable market of one trillion dollars across a broad range of products, with $8.1 billion of customer demand. When I joined two years ago, we were extremely proud of being at one billion in customer demand. The growth has been astonishing. And we're poised to continue growth with $407 million cash in hand. So, the company platform -- Origin starts with abundant, essentially waste, bio-feedstocks. We use our technology to convert these bio-feedstocks into platform materials that are used in a number of products. The platform materials being...and I'll go into the chemistry in just one second...chloro-methyl-furfural is one of them, and the other one is hydro-thermal carbon. So these materials go into drop-in materials that go into plastics that make car parts, plastic bottles, clamshells, fibers. They also go into resins, paints, and our hydrothermal carbon goes into fillers for tires, if you think of carbon black, and fillers for plastics. We cover a broad range of applications. 

So just to have an idea of how we're planning to make a difference; and let's put in terms we can all understand. By 2030, with our expected growth, the expected avoidance of CO2 would be equivalent to 960,000 homes or about 1.8 million passenger vehicles or 19 million barrels of oil. Where do we play? You heard Mike talk about the energy side and where do we need to be efficient. Well, having said that, a large portion -- about half of our emissions -- come from the manufacture of materials. Origin plays in the materials side. So, we address the issue and by using biofeedstocks, we make the materials carbon-negative.

Now, the second thing to remember about Origin is we're building our first world-class facility in Geismar, Louisiana. We say "world-class," it will handle about one million dry metric tons of wood and convert it into sustainable materials. So, where is it? It's in Geismar Louisiana. We have already purchased 150 acres. And "why Geismar?" you would say. Well, Geismar has abundant feedstock -- it's in the middle of the wood basket. There's plenty of waste feedstock available. It has reliable utilities, it's an industrial area, it has available hydrogen and ethylene that we use in pipelines close to our site. We have a great supply chain. We're right by the river, so we have access to barge, rail, and truck. The people are fantastic. With it being an industrial area, they're all experienced on how to run chemical plants so we'll have access to folks that are very good plus we have a number of partners and impact partners in the area, and I was hoping that John Carter was here, so I'll give a shoutout to them. They've been hand in hand with us. We also like to make an impact to our community. So we will add 500 jobs during construction, 200 jobs in the plant, and about 1000 indirect jobs.

So the third thing to remember about Origin today is that we're on a journey from technology development to operational excellence in chemical plants. This journey, in general, would take a number of years. We want to jump to the front of the line. We want our plants to run safer, greener, longer, and faster. And we want that to happen now, not many many years from now. Origin's core expertise are the chemical processes and the chemistry. Emerson's core expertise is automation in its broadest sense. I can't even start to explain all the things that Mike talked about that Emerson does but it is fully integrated. So, we jump to the front of the line by bringing in that integration into our project. That allows us to bring the capex down, and it allow us to bring the schedule down in the automation area. It makes commissioning and start-up faster via integration. And it improves the operations and enterprise, and it's all about the data -- so, more aspirational.

We believe that digital automation is a strategic lever for growth. And we want to use this lever and establish a solid digital foundation, and we need to do it now. This foundation is a platform for improvement for our current project and, once we have it setup, it's a platform for all other projects. You grow, you have it setup, and you can continue moving it forward. Doing that will generate mountains of data that needs to be curated, distilled, consolidated, conceptualized, and make it available so that people can make better decisions on all levels -- from the operator to me, even if I can make good decisions, this will make it happen. Operational excellence allows you to have more aggressive targets, allows you to get there faster, and allows you to get to where you need to be. It allows you to take predictive actions and optimize production. It allows you to have a data-driven enterprise. 

How are we looking at the future? Origin today is about to complete our first small facility; it's a small commercial facility in Sarnia, Ontario in Canada. We'll learn a lot from that facility. By 2025, we'll have Origin 2 -- our first world class facility -- and we have big dreams. We're looking to have Origin 3 by 2027 and Origin 4 & 5 by 2029. We have well-established, detailed plans between now and 2030. All of these plans will benefit from the digital foundation which we are building today. And our digital journey to adaptive operations starts now. Thank you very much."

No Major News, But Name of Automation Partner Revealed

While Wolff did not drop any major news at the conference, he did reveal the name of the automation partner -- John H. Carter, an Emerson Impact Partner. They are working "hand in hand," as he said, with Origin Materials on the automation front for the O2 facility. 


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