Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

Bill Gates Invests US$80 Million in Carbon Capture Start-up

Verdox CEO Brian Baynes has claimed that his project takes a different approach in the technology of carbon sequestration that is more efficient and less expensive.
February 3, 2022
Net zero
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Founded in 2019, Verdox has developed a technology to capture carbon from the air that still only operates in the laboratory. Even so, it already shows promise in the eyes of investors. The Massachusetts-based start-up has raised $80 million in investments, with participation from Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The contribution to Verdox came after the start-up demonstrated advances in the technology of carbon sequestration, addressing the problem of global warming and climate change.

Verdox was founded in 2019 and Brian Baynes, its chief executive, said a recent breakthrough helped it raise money from investors. Microsoft’s billionaire co-founder provided an unspecified sum, according to a Bloomberg report.

The outlet also reported that carbon capture works by separating carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the air or exhaust gases from factory chimneys. Most current technologies use liquid solvents that attract carbon dioxide like a magnet attracts iron filings. Once the liquid captures the gas, it is heated to a temperature that allows the carbon dioxide to be released.

The carbon dioxide can then be compressed and injected underground for permanent storage. He added that all these steps require a large amount of energy, which contributes to making the technology more expensive. However, Verdox has a different approach that claims to be more efficient and therefore cheaper.

An early version of the material, developed at MIT, worked well to capture carbon dioxide,  but ended up capturing oxygen as well. Air is made up of 21% oxygen and only 0.04% carbon dioxide. But last year, Verdox found a material that Baynes says is 5,000 times more attractive to carbon dioxide than oxygen. “That’s the biggest accomplishment of the last two years,” Baynes said. He declined to share any other details about the material.

As interest in emission-free energy has grown in recent years, many companies have started working on this type of technology that allows carbon dioxide to be stored permanently.

Verdox CEO Brian Baynes has claimed that his project takes a different approach that is more efficient and, therefore, less expensive. The start-up has detailed how its new material works, a type of plastic that can selectively extract CO₂ from a gas mixture when charged with electricity. Once trapped, a change in voltage releases the CO₂ and could reduce the total energy used in direct air capture by 70% or more, it says.

The new funding should be enough for four or five years, according to Baynes. A portion will be spent on building three prototypes this year that could capture up to 100 kilograms of CO₂ per day, which works out to about 35 tons a year. One prototype aims to directly capture CO₂ from the air, while the others will trap it in factories – likely at an American oil company and a European steel company.