Nanotechnology company UP Catalyst announced that it has raised €4 million (USD$4.3 million) in seed funding, aimed at supporting the scale-up of its technology to support the reduction of Europe’s reliance on Chinese carbon materials with a sustainable alternative source of raw materials for battery manufacturers.
Founded in 2019, Estonia-based UP Catalyst produces sustainable carbon materials using Molten Salt Carbon Capture and Electrochemical Transformation technology, using CO2-rich flue gases from heavy industry emitters as a feedstock, in a carbon negative process powered by renewable energy.
Proceeds from the seed financing round will be used to build a pilot reactor for converting CO2 into graphite, a key component in batteries, due to its energy density. The pilot reactor is anticipated to process 100 tons of CO2 annually, producing 27 tons of carbon material, which UP Catalyst says makes it the largest provider of green graphite in the world.
The financing follows an announcement from China of graphite export curbs, which the company noted has added urgency to the quest for local battery raw material alternatives. China produces nearly 80% of the world’s natural graphite; and refines more than 90% of the world’s graphite into the material that is used in almost all EV battery anodes.
Gary Urb, CEO of UP Catalyst, said:
“We are thrilled to have secured this funding, bringing us one step closer to empowering 4 million car batteries with graphite sourced from CO2 emissions by 2030. This carbon supply can cover approximately 20% of the EV battery market’s yearly carbon need in Europe.”
The funding round was led by Berlin-based climate tech VC fund Extantia and supported by Estonia’s state fund SmartCap, along with the continued participation of existing investors Sunly, Little Green Fund, Scottish Baltic Invest and UniTartu Ventures. The investment will be instrumental in UP Catalyst’s quest to scale up their production capabilities.
Yair Reem, Partner at Extantia, said:
“UP Catalyst is redefining the conventional approach to graphite production by turning away from environmentally detrimental fossil fuel methods. We perceive China’s export restrictions not as a barrier but as a catalyst for European green innovation. UP Catalyst stands at the forefront, ready to deliver a dependable, price-competitive and sustainable solution to address the growing global demand for battery manufacturing.”