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ClimateTech — hot response to hot weather

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Startup Jedi

We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.

The climate on our planet is changing more and more every year. In August, for the first time since 2013, a new UN Climate Commission (IPCC) statement on global warming was released. The findings of the commission were disappointing: the changes were irreversible, the planet was warming faster than the Paris Agreement’s objectives, and human beings were the source of the changes.Categorical accusations of global warming against humanity are directly related to the development of technology. With the most optimistic forecast, the Arctic Ocean will cease to be "arctic" by 2050. But at the same time, there are quite a lot of startups in the world that belong to the ClimateTech field and are doing everything to, if not reverse climate change, then at least slow it down.

Climate and  CO₂

One of the main areas of research aimed at reducing climate harm is related to solutions for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon Engineering is a Canadian project funded, among others, by Bill Gates, which allows extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using special chemicals. This project was marked at the World Economic Forum 2020 as a technological breakthrough. Its competitor is Global Thermostat— a New York startup that has managed to attract more than $50M in funding since 2010. The company develops 6 commercial projects in different verticals: from building materials to biofertilizers. Using its proven advanced technology, Global Thermostat captures and concentrates CO₂, ensuring its cost-effective reuse in several large and growing industries, reducing harmful emissions and helping to close the global carbon cycle. 

In the very center of Europe, the Swiss Climeworks project uses the so-called "direct capture" in order to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but unlike its American colleagues, it uses huge air filters for this, not chemical compounds. Their Orca plant, powered by geothermal sources, was launched in Iceland on September 8, 2021 together with the Icelandic company Carbfix. According to the plans, the plant will annually absorb up to 4 thousand tons of carbon dioxide — this is comparable to the exhaust of 870 cars per year.

The Climeworks startup was founded in November 2009 by two students from Zurich, Jan Wurzbacher and Christoph Gebald, based on research that they began to conduct back in 2007, faced with the reduction of glaciers in the Alps, where they liked to relax.Already in 2011, the first funding was raised for the creation of the existing prototype, which exceeded laboratory technology by a thousand times. In 2017, they launched the world’s first commercial carbon dioxide removal plant in Switzerland, which annually supplies about 900 tons of carbon dioxide to a greenhouse farm nearby, helping to grow vegetables.

Another area of development to reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere is construction. Two projects can be noted here —  Newlight and Cabricrete.The first of them produces bioplastics for construction using ocean microorganisms, and the second —  cement-free concrete at existing factories for the production of building materials, making this material more environmentally friendly, cheaper and with less waste. Both startups started their activities in the 2000s and are currently leaders in their field.

A relatively new area that positively affects the climate is the innovative technology of aircraft construction, in which new methods of creating lift are used instead of traditional engines. One of these startups is called ZeroAvia, founded in California in 2017.

Climate and transport

A relatively new area that positively affects the climate is the innovative technology of aircraft construction, in which new methods of creating lift are used instead of traditional engines. One of these startups is called ZeroAvia, founded in California in 2017.During the 4 years of its existence, the company managed to attract $62M. The aim of the project is to create a new engine that reduces both the cost and carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. According to their website, over the next 10 years, the demand for new engines will exceed 100 thousand units.

Another California startup that also works in aviation is Universal Hydrogen, founded in 2020. To make commercial hydrogen flights a reality, the company received $20.5M in investments from Airbus Ventures and JetBlue Technologies Ventures. By providing both an aircraft conversion solution for the existing fleet and fuel services offered directly to regional airlines, Universal Hydrogen plans to serve zero-emission passenger transportation by 2025, and cargo flights soon after that.

In 2004, another startup called Proterra was founded in California, which has received almost $680M in funding over the years in order to change public transport, in particular buses, by reducing their carbon footprint. Over the years, the company's electric vehicles have traveled about 20 million miles in North America.

Climate and non-standard solutions

If all the previous projects seem quite simple and trivial to you, then we suggest you get acquainted with Visolis. In this project, the use of synthetic biology makes it possible to produce highly efficient carbon-negative materials.This Berkeley startup, founded in 2012, was recognized as one of the 50 projects that will change the world, according to Biofuels Digest in 2019. In 2015, Visolis received a grant of €50,000 from EASME (EU Agency for Small and Medium-sized Businesses). Later in 2017, an undisclosed amount of money was raised from Cantos and CreativeVentures in the form of a convertible loan.

Another direction is the recycling of materials and waste, where innovation is also possible. In 2017, the Redwood Materials project was founded, which uses technology to re-use and overproduce products for the end-user. In particular, they recycle electric vehicles, user electronics and waste from production processes. Among Redwood Materials clients are Amazon and Panasonic, and investors have already invested $42M in this project.

Climate and software solutions

At the end of our review, we will talk about software solutions that help to address climate change in their own way. For example, Aclima is a  startup that was founded in 2007 in California, tracks air quality and greenhouse gas emissions by government agencies and private companies. Since its inception, it has attracted $64M in venture capital funding. Today, more than 100 local governments in the United States use the company’s decision.

Another software solution is the startup Pachama, founded in 2017 in San Francisco, which created a platform for trading carbon credits. The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning allows more than a thousand companies to trade their carbon credits on the Pachama platform. During its activity, the project has attracted more than $24M in external financing.

Climate — what's next?

According to the UN Climate Commission, humanity has no more than 10 years left in order not to reverse, but at least slow down the pace of global climate change. And in today's article, we looked at several technological areas that contribute to the great cause of combating global warming. Unfortunately, the efforts that were made before that turned out to be insufficient to talk about any meaningful progress.

In our article we have not yet touched on the topic of electric transport, alternative energy and related technologies, which can also have an impact on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and the carbon footprint of mankind. We will talk about them in one of our next materials — and it will not only be about Elon Musk with his Tesla and SolarRoof. Stay in touch with us!

18 Nov 2021


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