“Green iron” company Electra announced that it has raised $85 million, as it moves to build out its process to refine iron ore with zero emissions, and at substantially lower temperatures than current methods.
Investors backing the company include Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Amazon, BHP Ventures, Temasek, S2G Ventures, among others.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures’ Carmichael Roberts commented:
“Decarbonizing ironmaking is essential for a zero carbon future and an unparalleled trillion-dollar market opportunity. Electrifying cost-effective ironmaking without carbon emissions is a paradigm shift in how steel has been made for centuries by burning fossil fuels. We’re proud to have supported Electra in this critical mission from its founding.”
Founded in 2020, Electra has developed a process to electrochemically refine iron ore into pure iron, while releasing zero carbon emissions. The method drastically lowers the process temperature to 60°C from current methods at 1,600°C, uses intermittent renewable energy instead of coal, and utilizes low grade ores, often treated as waste, instead of commercial ores.
Steelmaking is one of the biggest emitters of CO2 globally, accounting for 7% – 9% of direct emissions from the global use of fossil fuels, and one of the more challenging sectors to abate. As manufacturers globally aim to decarbonize their supply chains, demand for fossil-free steel is expected to increase significantly. Electra’s process aims to address this problem, as 90% of steel emissions result from refining iron ore into iron.
According to Electra, the process also carries no ‘green premium,’ with the cost being the same or less than existing production methods.
Sandeep Nijhawan, Electra CEO, said:
“Electra’s iron is the fulcrum to decarbonize steelmaking and to de-risk the iron ore challenge. Our team, starting with a clean sheet, developed an electrochemical process to refine iron ore to high purity iron by radically lowering the process temperature from 1,600 to 60 degrees Celsius, replacing coal energy with intermittent renewable energy, and displacing commercial ores with lower-grade ores that are not being used or are currently treated as waste today.”