Estonian startup UP Catalyst, a company developing a method to produce sustainable carbon nanomaterials and graphite from CO2, has closed a successful pre-seed round of €500,000, in addition to €1.59 million in grant funding secured earlier this year.
The pre-seed round was led by Sunly, a developer of wind and solar parks in the Baltics and Poland, and joined by Scottish Baltic Invest, an investment company linked to Interconnect Product Assembly (IPA), which specializes in the production of electro-mechanical solutions; and Little Green Fund that focuses on investments in cleantech innovation.
The group is joined by a non-financial investor UniTartu Ventures, an investment company of the University of Tartu, which transfers the IP rights for equity.
Although founded in 2019, the scientific research and development of UP Catalyst goes back to 2016, when relevant technologies to produce carbon nanomaterials and graphite sustainably were studied by the founders.
Most of the carbon materials on the market are produced by employing expensive and environmentally harmful methods. This has a major negative impact on the environment as they are either mined or synthesized from energy-dense fossil resources.
UP Catalyst uses CO2-rich flue gases from heavy industry emitters as a feedstock for producing sustainable carbon nanomaterials and graphite, a critical raw material both in the EU and the US. These materials can be used in electric car batteries increasing the energy and power density, speeding up the charge rate and improving the lifetime significantly.
UP Catalyst uses a molten salt carbon capture and electrochemical transformation method to reprocess the CO2. The entire process involves three steps:
CO2 dissolves in molten salt (capture);
Electrochemical reactions take place on the cathode and anode; and
separation of products and collection.
UP Catalyst offers carbons with different structure made from CO2: carbon nanofibers (CNFs); carbon nanospheres; and graphite.
We in Sunly saw a match between great technology & business-led researchers in UP Catalyst. Turning CO2 into sustainable materials that can be used in energy storage has the potential to revolutionize the whole industry.—Rasmus Udde, the Innovation Lead at Sunly