Spin-out from the University of Southampton, ViridiCO2 has just secured over €3.3 million (£3 million) for its solution that converts waste carbon dioxide into high-quality chemical products.
The need to cut carbon emissions and reach net zero is growing in urgency. To keep global warming in line with the Paris Agreement, emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030, with the goal of net zero to be reached by 2050. At the same time, major industries that we rely on and depend upon are still major polluters.
The global chemicals industry, for example, is worth 5 trillion dollars, yet, it is a major polluter and currently has one feedstock – harmful fossil fuel-based petrochemicals. Whilst reducing emissions is key, plastics and other petrochemical-based items are not going anywhere.
Rethinking how we can access these materials, in a more planet-friendly way, is ViridiCO2. The startup has developed a solution that converts waste carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere into high-value chemical products such as surfactants, plastics/polymer feedstocks and small molecules. The team, which originated in the University of Southampton, has just secured €3.3 million (£3 million) in a seed funding round led by EQT Ventures.
Daniel Stewart Co-Founder and CEO, ViridiCO2: “The foundation, formulation and chemicals industries are some of the world’s greatest polluters and many have aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. ViridiCO2 is focused on assisting the chemicals industry to decarbonise by putting the 7 billion tonnes of industry waste CO2 to good use, creating sustainable products, and a new income source.”
Based on research by founder Dr. Daniel Stewart, ViridiCO2’s tech enables industry users to cut the use of fossil-fuel-sourced petrochemicals as feedstocks by 50% immediately, replacing them with CO2 captured from the atmosphere.
Daniel Stewart explained: “The use of our technology by the high emitting chemicals industry reduces the reliance on fossil-fuel petrochemical-based materials and valorises the waste CO2 that would otherwise be realised into the atmosphere and further contributing to the climate crisis. In the face of climate change, businesses have realised that sustainability is the fulcrum of their corporate strategy, rather than an add-on – our technology truly helps these heavy emitting manufacturers transition towards a circular economy, reduce scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions and enable the first ‘carbon-positive plastics’ to hit the market.”
Since launching in 2021, the startup has used funding from its Angel investors, many of which are Southampton alumni, along with grant funding from Innovate UK, to prove kilogram production capability and to validate it on a chemical manufacturer’s site.
Ali Mitchell, Partner, EQT Ventures, said: “We look to back generation-defining companies and ViridCO2 is definitely one that has the potential to accelerate the energy transition of a whole industry. Daniel and his team have invented a revolutionary solution to convert waste CO2 into high-value chemical products, plastics and essential items that are still needed in the world today. The tech enables the chemical industry to cut the use of petrochemicals – with a path to removing this feedstock completely – and reduce CO2 emissions which is crucial to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, to save our planet from a climate catastrophe. The team has created a solution that is a true win-win for business and the world.”
This new funding will be used to accelerate the development and commercialisation of ViridiCO2’s technology. It’ll also be used to progress the tech to TRL7, a system prototype demonstration stage. At this point, the startup plans to work with different manufacturing patterns to scale the solution in line with market demand.
Emma Burke, Innovation Lead for Commercialisation at Innovate UK, said: “The UK is ideally positioned to lead the global development and deployment of CCU with its strong industrial sector, world-class universities, and favourable capital investment landscape to enable innovation and growth, making it one of the most attractive business environments for CCU technology. ViridiCO2 is a fantastic example of how a company supported by Innovate UK’s ICURe programme, can grow, develop, and commercialise such critical technology enabling users to enhance their green credentials, save money and reduce their emissions.”
Gill Reid, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry & Professor of Chemistry at the University of Southampton, said: “Daniel and the team at ViridiCO2 have developed innovative technology that has the potential to deliver real solutions that can play a pivotal role in achieving net zero emission targets globally and drive forward the emissions reduction solutions for the chemicals industry. It is fantastic to see a home-grown university spin-out that was recognised as a winner of our prestigious 2020 Emerging Technologies Competition continue its journey to scale and become a successful UK business.”