Steel production accounts for about 8% of emissions which contributes to global climate change. It is one of the industries that sits at the foundation of the modern economy and is the most resistant to decarbonization.
As countries around the world found a way to remove carbon from the metals business, reducing its environmental footprint and adopting more sustainable methods of production would be the most significant contribution to that effort.
One startup that is developing a new technology to solve this problem is Boston Metal. Supported by the Breakthrough Energy Ventures Fund, funded by Bill Gates, according to a filing by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the new company has almost scored $ 60 million.
According to studies cited by consulting firm McKinsey & Company, the global steel industry may be at risk of about 14% of its potential value if the business cannot mitigate its environmental impact.
Boston metal, Which previously raised $ 20 million back in 2019, uses a process called molten oxide electrolysis (“MOE”) to make steel alloys – and ultimately emission-free steel. The first close of funding actually came in December 2018 – two years before the most recent financing round, according to the company’s chief executive, Tedu Carneiro.
Over the years as the company raised its final round, Boston Metal has grown from eight employees to one employee, now numbering close to 50. The Woburn, Massachusetts-based company is also able to continuously operate its three pilot lines producing metal alloys. More than a month at a time.
And while the steel program remains the ultimate goal, the company is rapidly moving towards commercialization with its alloy program, as it does not rely on traditional infrastructure according to Carneiro.
Boston Metal’s technology fundamentally identifies an industry whose technology hasn’t changed much since the Iron Age in 1200 BCE, Carneiro said.
The goal ultimately is to serve as a technology developer licensing its technology and selling components to steel manufacturers or engineering companies that will eventually make steel.
For Boston Metal, the next steps are clear on the product road map. The company will have to operate a semi-industrial cell line at Woburn by the end of 2022, and hopes to have its first demonstration plant up and running by 2024 or 2025. “At that point we’ll be able to commercialize the technology,” Carneiro said.
Past investors of the company include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ventures and MIT-backed “hard-tech” investment firm, The Engine. All to invest in the latest infusion of cash in the company with Devonshire Investors, a financial services giant, a private investment firm affiliated with Fidelity’s parent company FMR, which is co-leading the deal with Shiva Capital. Came back , Unknown investor.
As a result of its investment, Shyam Kamadoloi will take a seat on the company’s board, according to filings with the SEC.
MOE takes metals in their crude oxide form and turns them into molten metal products. Invented at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and based on research by MIT Professor Donald Sadowe, Boston Metal makes molten oxide that is tailored to a specific feedstock and product. Electrons are used to melt the soup and reduce the target oxide. The bottom of a cell is tapped by drilling into the cell using a process adapted from a pure metal pool and a blast furnace. The tap hole is plugged and then the process continues.
One of the benefits of technology, according to the company, is its scalability. As producers need to make more alloys, they can increase production capacity.
“Molten oxide electrolysis is a platform technology that can produce a wide range of metals and alloys, but our first industrial deployment will target the route’s ferrocello,” the company’s chief executive, Carneiro, said in a statement. Announcing the company’s $ 20 million financing in 2019. “Steel is and will continue to be one of the staples of modern society, but steel production today produces more than two gigatons of CO.2. The same fundamental method for the production of steel has been used for millennia, but Boston Metal is breaking that paradigm by replacing it with electrons. “
No technology is brighter than Bill Gates Himself underlined the importance of decarbonization of the metal business.
Gatesnotes wrote in his blog, “Boston Metal is working to make steel using electricity instead of coal, and just to make it stronger and cheaper.” Although Gates had a warning. “Of course, electrification only helps to reduce emissions if it uses clean power, which is another reason why achieving zero-carbon electricity is so important,” he wrote.