UK carbon capture start-up raises $5m with backing from Gates’ fund

Mission Zero Technologies (MZT), a direct air capture start-up in the UK, has closed a $5m seed funding round to scale up its R&D and support its first commercial project.

The funding round was led by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, along with global mining company Anglo American. To date, Breakthrough Energy Ventures has raised more than $2bn to support companies that are helping the world reach net-zero emissions.

Founded in 2020, MZT was formed from a collaboration between Anglo American and venture creators Deep Science Ventures to accelerate decarbonisation pathways in key industries.

It has previously received investment from Anglo American and Deep Science Ventures, as well as a grant from payments company Stripe for early-stage R&D. It was also part of a project that was recently awarded $1m in the Xprize carbon removal competition backed by Elon Musk.

MZT has developed an electrochemical process to capture atmospheric CO2 and deliver it on-site to end users or sequestration facilities.

MZT’s patent-pending direct air capture technology is fully electric and aims to make use of the growing renewable and low-carbon electricity supply. The company’s aim is to cut the amount of energy, and costs, needed to capture CO2.

“MZT has combined mature technologies with innovative yet simple chemistry to create a heat-free, modular and energy-efficient [direct air capture] process that is economical and works at ambient conditions,” MZT CTO Dr Gaël Gobaille-Shaw said.

“By making use of existing technology and widely available chemicals, we can rapidly scale up and deploy our plants to contribute to the large-scale removal required within our tight planetary deadline.”

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Along with scaling up its R&D, MZT plans to use the seed funding to support the delivery of its pilot plant and its planned commercial project. The carbon capture start-up said that its technology, when scaled up, will be able to capture atmospheric CO2 at less than $100 a tonne.

As part of the funding round, Dr Mark Hartney from Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Mark Freed from Anglo American have joined the board of MZT to help guide the company’s planned growth.

“It goes without saying that climate change is the existential crisis of our time – anthropogenic emissions are slowly baking us all to death,” MZT CEO Dr Nicholas Chadwick said. “We’re thrilled to bring on BEV alongside our existing investors in our shared vision of a world where CO2 emissions are an opportunity not a threat.

“Fundamentally CO2 must become the carbon backbone of everything we make, do and consume,” Chadwick added.

Many companies are innovating in the carbon capture space. Last month, Dublin-based company Carbon Collect unveiled its first commercial-scale ‘mechanical tree’ designed to capture CO2 from the atmosphere.

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