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HutanBio hires new head of engineering to accelerate commercial rollout of HBx biofuel platform

From left, John Archer, HutanBio founder and chief scientific officer, alongside James Ibberson, HutanBio’s newly appointed head of engineering. (Photo: HutanBio)  

Cleantech company HutanBio announced June 6 that it has solidified its commitment to the Cambridge entrepreneurial ecosystem with the announcement of expansion initiatives and the appointment of James Ibberson as head of engineering.


Ibberson joins HutanBio with a wealth of experience as founder and director of Tebira Ltd., a technical consultancy specializing in electronic, software and systems development for global clients.


HutanBio said his appointment underscores the company’s commitment to assembling a world-class team of experts dedicated to combatting climate change and shaping a greener, more sustainable future.


With a record of delivering ambitious multidisciplinary projects on time and budget, both in the U.K. and internationally, Ibberson is positioned to be a valuable asset to HutanBio.


“I am thrilled to be joining the exceptional team at HutanBio, which has spent over a decade decoding the algal-biofuel puzzle,” Ibberson said. “The team has ambitious plans to decarbonize two of the toughest sectors—marine and aviation. These industries present unique technical hurdles due to their stringent performance, regulatory requirements and the need for high energy-density fuels, which is why the technology being developed by HutanBio is so exciting. It is quite simply pushing boundaries, blending advanced biological processes with innovative engineering. My decision to join the team was easy. The team is incredible, the microbiology is groundbreaking, and the technology targets critical markets. With our biology already at an advanced stage and a world-class science team in place, my mission is to drive the engineering scale-up, using my expertise in industrial process control, instrumentation, biotech, electronics and technical leadership. I am particularly eager to contribute my knowledge and expertise to advance the HBx Biofuel platform and build a strong engineering team here in Cambridge. The challenge is immense, but the opportunity to make a substantial impact on global carbon emissions is what drives us all at HutanBio.”


To support this key appointment, HutanBio has secured office space at the renowned St. Johns Innovation Park as part of its strategic growth plans.


This move aligns with the company’s vision for substantial expansion within its engineering team, with recruitment efforts already underway.

With over 80 tenants and 500 employees, the innovation park provides an ideal environment for growing businesses, offering accessibility, flexibility and collaboration opportunities.


“The expansion of our engineering team in Cambridge is a strategic move for HutanBio and underpins our long-served connections to the university and surrounding area,” said Paul Beastall, CEO of HutanBio. “Cambridge offers a wealth of talent, particularly in the engineering and tech sectors, making it an ideal location for our growth plans. James’ appointment marks a significant milestone in our journey towards realizing our ambitious goals.” 

John Archer, founder and chief scientific officer of HutanBio, added, “We are delighted to welcome James Ibberson to our team. His proven track record of technical excellence, specifically his multidisciplinary project-management and leadership skills will play a pivotal role in driving forward our efforts to advance our engineering-platform capabilities and grow our team here in Cambridge. With James on board, we are poised to accelerate our innovation and make significant strides towards a sustainable future.”


HutanBio was founded in 2019 following a decade of research and the discovery of a rare species of microalgae called HBx.


The algae produce a high energy-density, low-carbon, and sulfur-free bio-oil.


Expected to become a major disruptor in the fuel supply market and make a significant contribution to the decarbonization of transport and the hard-to-abate heavy industries such as cement manufacturing, HutanBio said it has been “patient and rigorous” in its scientific work to ensure that HBx is market ready.

HutanBio said HBx has the capability to produce a cost-effective biofuel an order of magnitude greater than any other oil crop.

In addition to their advanced genomic expertise, the team has developed an innovative technology platform to automate and optimize algae growth.

The platform uses CO2 as a feedstock for the algae, which are grown in special bioreactor farms.

These sustainable and scalable aquafarms, designed and engineered by HutanBio, will be deployed on unproductive and nonagricultural semi-arid and arid land in countries where there are high levels of sunlight.

With sights set on deploying the first commercial biofarm as early as 2025, all efforts are now focused on expanding the development team to advance the engineering, software and automation required to support platform deployment.



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