Cleantech startup UniSieve has just secured €4.9 million ($5.5 million) for its solution that helps heavy industry decarbonize. The Swiss team now plans to pilot and expand production capacities.
Reaching net zero requires considerable effort to decarbonise across industries and sectors. Heavy industries, such as chemical and energy companies, are among the highest polluters of carbon emissions. They also have to meet the Net Zero goals as set out by government agreements, and they play a key role in reducing global carbon emissions.
Cleantech company UniSieve has identified a unique way for them to decarbonise. The company has just secured €4.9 million ($5.5 million) to roll out the solution.
The Seed Round saw participation from a venture capital consortium including the Amadeus APEX Technology Fund, Wingman Ventures, Ciech Ventures and Zürcher Kantonalbank.
For companies involved in heavy industry, creating energy efficiencies n their legacy, highly energy-intensive assets worth billions of dollars is a major challenge. For example, in chemical plants, a major energy drain is the chain of separation and purification steps because it still depends on highly energy-intensive thermal processes.
Swiss startup, UniSieve, aims to solve these energy drains to help the industry get closer to Net Zero goals.
Established in 2018 by Samuel Hess and Elia Schneider, UniSieve’s membrane-based separation solutions can separate chemicals, energy carriers, or CO2 from flue gas based on size exclusion. The solution bypasses the need for heating or cooling through sieving membranes that can reduce the energy needed for separating and purifying molecules by up to 90%.
Samuel Hess, co-founder and CEO of UniSieve: “Our solution is addressing a major emissions cause and its potential for energy and emission reduction is significant for our planet. In essence, we say stop boiling and start sieving to end energy-intensive distillation. The concept of sieving works as simple as a coffee filter holding back the coffee powder from an espresso. However, it gets a little tricky when separating chemicals that vary in size by a fraction of an angstrom only (1 angstrom equals one-tenth of a nanometer). To do so, the sieve must be extremely narrow and precise. The UniSieve membrane is structure made of highly ordered network of porous crystals that generate in a repeating pattern, much like ancient Roman mosaics.”
The company was built by the duo when they discovered the means to manufacture and integrate porous crystals (zeolitic materials) into polymeric membranes.
“The concept of combining molecular sieves with a support layer to create the perfect membrane has been out there for decades but never made it into broad, commercially applicable membranes. When creating the membrane platform technology, the UniSieve Team focussed on economic scalability, the most frequent reason that has prevented other approaches from succeeding.”
Pre-seed funding from Wingman Ventures and several prestigious grants from the European Union, the Swiss government, and private foundations enabled them to prove the hypothesis of their scalable and affordable high-performing membranes.
This latest funding boost will be used to pilot and expand production capacities.
Lukas Weder, founding partner at Wingman Ventures: “Energy-intensive production processes have been a key talking point across the board. But we’re seeing action now. Two important things are happening that are driving this action. Firstly, heavy industry is willing to invest in solutions to tackle the problem and secondly, better quality solutions are available. The UniSieve technology solution has been tried, tested and is ready to be deployed and so, perfectly positioned to help companies quickly to build very powerful energy-efficient production processes.”
Wolfgang Neubert, General Partner at the Amadeus APEX Technology Fund: “UniSieve is our first industrial technology investment in Switzerland. We were impressed by the team’s to bring this academic thesis to life and not only this to make it commercially viable and scalable. It has the potential to be hugely impactful for the world. We look forward to supporting the team on their journey.”