Direct air capture (DAC) start-up Verdox has secured a total of $80 million from different investors, including Bill Gates via his Breakthrough Energy Ventures capital fund.
The Massachusetts-based company has been focused on developing systems that can trap CO2 emissions directly from the atmosphere.
This is one of the technological solutions that has been recognized as having the potential to play a key role in mitigating the climate crisis.
However, it is not one without challenges, among which are energy intensiveness, high costs, and therefore scalability.
For these reasons, up until recently, the start-up’s technology was only functional within lab conditions.
But that may be on its way to change after chief executive Brian Baynes announced a major breakthrough that has inspired confidence in investors that will likely propel Verdox’ further development.
What Verdox is doing differently
The breakthrough has to do with the prime material used to trap carbon emissions from the air.
Verdox’ approach relies on a special kind of plastic that can selectively trap carbon dioxide from a mix of gasses, whether in air or from an exhaust, with the help of electricity.
Changing the voltage then helps release the captured CO2.
Verdox claims its unique material to be far more energy-efficient than existing alternatives, using at least 70% less energy.
This could help significantly reduce direct air capture costs.
In addition to its cost-effectiveness, the material developed by Verdox is also better at capturing CO2 than an earlier version of it that was developed at MIT.
The previous version was successful at capturing CO2 from the air, but along with it, the material also trapped oxygen.
The new version, on the other hand, is said to be 5,000 times more attractive to carbon dioxide than it is to oxygen, which Baynes has characterized as the start-up’s most significant achievement.