Irving-Based ExxonMobil Acquires Materia Inc., Plans to Bring Its Nobel Prize-Winning Tech to Scale

The deal combines Materia’s Nobel Prize-winning hydrocarbon-based materials technology with ExxonMobil’s manufacturing capabilities to commercialize a new class of structural materials. Applications could include everything from wind power turbine blades to EV parts to sustainable construction products.

ExxonMobil Chemical Company, the Irving-based publicly traded international energy giant, has acquired Materia, Inc., to uncover new applications for a Nobel prize-winning technology.

Since 2017, ExxonMobil and Materia have been collaborating to develop hydrocarbon-based materials that might act as an alternative to existing thermoset products, like epoxy. The intent is to find materials that are stronger, lighter, and more durable—benefits that, in the wind power industry, could enable longer-lasting wind turbine blades to power more efficient renewable electricity.

According to the companies, “the materials could also be used as a lightweight, corrosion-resistant replacement for steel in certain construction applications.”

Since it was founded in 1999, California-based Materia has been focused on tech that can manufacture a new class of materials.

The group of ruthenium catalyst technologies was developed by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Robert Grubbs and his research group at the California Institute of Technology. Grubbs was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his contributions to the field of olefin metathesis in 2005. He is also a co-founder of Materia.

More recently, Materia has focused on developing its Proxima thermoset resins. The company says its thermosets are designed to act as alternatives to traditional resins.

Bullets suspended in Proxima thermoset resin. [Photo: Materia inc.]

The materials being manufactured have various potential applications, like wind turbine blades, electric vehicle parts, sustainable construction, and anticorrosive coatings. According to Materia, they take advantage of the “revolutionary catalyst discoveries” that Grubbs and his team made.

“The combination of Materia’s innovative culture, dedicated employees, and cutting-edge technology with ExxonMobil’s expertise and scale in bringing new technology to market will open up an exciting new chapter for Materia,” Grubbs said in a statement. “ExxonMobil’s acquisition significantly expands the growth opportunities for this unique technology.”

With the deal, Materia will retain its name, acting as a wholly owned ExxonMobil affiliate. The acquisition includes its headquarters and technology center in California and its manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Texas.

“We are reimagining how new hydrocarbon-based materials can form the building blocks to help multiple industries achieve a more sustainable future,” Karen McKee, president of ExxonMobil, said in a statement. “This acquisition ties together Materia’s Nobel Prize-winning technology with ExxonMobil’s complementary proprietary technology and world-class manufacturing capabilities to bring this exciting new class of structural materials to commercial scale.”

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