Investing in solutions that can help is crucial for pushing things forward, and that’s what Vienna-based Speedinvest aims to do when it launched €80 million Climate & Industry Opportunity fund recently.
Now the VC has co-led a €1.25M funding round along with PropTech1 in NeoCarbon, a Berlin-based climate tech startup that is retrofitting direct air capture (DAC) devices to capture CO2 emissions. The funding will be used for the next stage of development as NeoCarbon works to turn its current lab-based proof of concept into a pilot prototype in a commercial facility — hopefully early next year.
Several climate-tech angel investors, including Planetly Founder Anna Alex, Stefano Bernardi, and Matthias Ernst, participated in the Direct Air Capture (DAC) startup’s funding round.
The pre-seed funds will be used for this, as well as expanding the engineering team to get an MVP ready for a first pilot in the coming months.
Instead of the enormous towers, you might see at a power plant, its initial focus is on retrofitting DAC to smaller industrial cooling towers. (Or even the incredibly tiny apartments you might find in a mall or office building.)
Although it claims that in the long run, technology for extremely large towers will also be developed. However, it contends that even smaller industrial towers can capture appreciable amounts of CO2 because they process a lot of air. Since the climate crisis won’t wait for large-scale projects to get started, its guiding principle is to start small and scale up quickly.
NeoCarbon performs Direct Air Capture using cooling towers, which are already in place. NeoCarbon is able to significantly cut the price and duration of DAC as a result, promoting widespread adoption.
René Haas, NeoCarbon CEO, says: “Globally, humanity emits around 51 gigatons of greenhouse gasses per year. DAC is going to be an essential tool to offsetting emissions and
NeoCarbon GmbH preventing catastrophic global warming, but the technology is currently unprofitable and thus underdeveloped. NeoCarbon aims to tackle this problem. Our retrofitting approach aligns the incentives of the industry with that of the environment, allowing for economical capture of CO2 at scale.”
Konstantinos Matsoukas, Investment Team Lead at PropTech1 says: “NeoCarbon is in an ideal position to make a meaningful contribution to keep climate change from irreversible levels by advancing the global goal of capturing 10 to 20 gigatons of CO2 per year by 2050. Out of many Direct Air Capture startups we have analyzed, we have invested in NeoCarbon in particular because of their retrofit approach that can drastically lower capital expenditure and operating expenses of DAC, along with speeding up deployment time. We believe NeoCarbon’s approach will enable a faster adoption of carbon removal technologies by the built world, which is the key to actually reduce the speed of climate change.”
Since cooling towers are built to have a lot of airflow through them, NeoCarbon’s strategy for reducing the cost of DAC focuses on repurposing existing industrial infrastructure, which already has the right conditions to suck carbon out of the air, negating the need to construct a brand-new CO2-capturing structure.
NeoCarbon was founded in January 2022 by René Haas and Silvain Toromanoff. It has already created a first prototype that is operating in a controlled environment. NeoCarbon removes the carbon dioxide from this processed ambient air at a very low additional cost by effectively retrofitting those towers.
The two scientist co-founders of the startup met at a co-founder matching event organised by company-builder Antler in Berlin after they had both quit their jobs and were searching for startup ideas where they could quickly make a difference for the environment.