Climate technology startup Aspiring Materials has raised $ 1 million in seed funding for its breakthrough carbon capture technology.
The Christchurch-based company’s tour was led by Icehouse Ventures with support from Outset Ventures.
The funds are intended to strengthen the team, including its first CEO, Mark Chadderton, who is returning to New Zealand after more than 20 years in global gas and energy companies.
Aspiring Materials extracts mineral products from silicate rocks using magnesium hydroxide – one of the minerals in the rock – to produce a powdery material that can remove and solidify carbon dioxide at the emission source, such as exhaust system of a factory.
The captured carbon forms a safe carbonate substance, which can be reused for a range of uses, from masonry building blocks to cement additives.
The company’s mineral extraction method is a closed loop process. Silica can be used to replace about a third of the Portland cement needed in the production of concrete, which is currently responsible for about 10% of carbon emissions worldwide. A third extracted mineral, iron oxide, can be sold as a high purity raw material for iron production.
While the concept of using olivine rocks to extract magnesium for carbon sequestration has been explored for at least 20 years, co-founder and aspiring civil engineer Dr Allan Scott says no one has been in it. able to understand how to create a carbon-free and waste-free environment. way of providing it.
“Our method is able to significantly reduce CO2 emissions, which is not only environmentally friendly, but also scalable and cost effective,” he said.
“We haven’t found any other method yet that comes close. Other experts and scientists who previously thought global carbon sequestration was a pipe dream reached out to us saying we were on to something. It’s exciting to be able to take the next phase so that we can realize our vision of building a low carbon future. “
Scott, associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Canterbury, co-founded Aspiring Materials two years ago with Dr Christopher Oze, a professor of geology based in the United States.
The couple began developing the method while working together at UC almost ten years ago and Oze, a New Zealand permanent resident, plan to join Scott in early 2022 as the company is also looking to secure. new commercial facilities.
The duo believe that it is possible to sequester an entire year of human-made CO2 emissions using a small percentage of the world’s supply of olivine, and its abundance on all continents makes it easier to transport the powder from it. magnesium hydroxide to the source of the emissions.
For example, capturing all of the planet’s carbon emissions for 2021 would require 16% of the olivine deposit located in Red Hills, near Nelson, New Zealand. They estimate that an olivine deposit in Oman could be used to sequester all human-made carbon emissions for the next 1,000 years.
Scott says their carbon capture technology is already generating interest overseas and the funding will keep them going.
“We are grateful to the team at Icehouse Ventures and Outset Ventures for supporting us with the funds and support we need to take our science to the next phase,” he said.
Icehouse Ventures partner Barnaby Marshall said Aspiring’s technology is a major breakthrough in the ability to reduce global carbon emissions in a scalable, sustainable and cost-effective way.
“Founders who forge new scientific and technical frontiers like Allan and Christopher are urgently needed to overcome the existential threat of climate change,” he said.