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UniSieve bags $5.5M to help heavily emitting industries decarbonise


UniSieve, a Swiss cleantech company has raised a $5.5 million seed funding round with participation from a venture capital consortium that included the Amadeus APEX Technology Fund, Wingman Ventures (also backed Oxyle), Ciech Ventures, and Zürcher Kantonalbank.

The funding will enable UniSieve to develop and commercialise its energy-efficient technology, which can significantly reduce the carbon emissions from heavy industries.

The biggest challenge facing heavy industries is to create energy efficiencies in their legacy, highly energy-intensive assets worth billions of dollars. 

For example, in chemical plants, a major energy drain is the chain of separation and purification steps because it still depends on highly energy-intensive thermal processes. 

Decarbonising heavy industry

UniSieve was established in 2018 by university classmates Samuel Hess and Elia Schneider while studying at ETH Zürich. 

The duo discovered a means to manufacture and integrate porous crystals into polymeric membranes, leading to the development of their innovative technology. 

UniSieve’s technology aims to solve this significant energy drain by using porous crystals (zeolitic materials) integrated into polymeric membranes. This breakthrough technology offers scalable and affordable high-performing membranes that can revolutionize the way heavy industries operate.

Samuel Hess, co-founder and CEO of UniSieve commented: “Our solution is addressing a major emissions cause and its potential for energy and emission reduction is significant for our planet. In essence, we say stop boiling and start sieving to end energy-intensive distillation. The concept of sieving works as simple as a coffee filter holding back the coffee powder from an espresso. However, it gets a little tricky when separating chemicals that vary in size by a fraction of an angstrom only (1 angstrom equals one-tenth of a nanometer). To do so, the sieve must be extremely narrow and precise. The UniSieve membrane is a structure made of a highly ordered network of porous crystals that generate a repeating pattern, much like ancient Roman mosaics”

“The concept of combining molecular sieves with a support layer to create the perfect membrane has been out there for decades but never made it into broad, commercially applicable membranes. When creating the membrane platform technology, the UniSieve Team focussed on economic scalability, the most frequent reason that has prevented other approaches from succeeding.”

Samuel Hess added: “We have run pilot testing with industry leaders which have demonstrated that the separation solution works. Today, we have several contracts signed and under negotiation to pilot our membranes in a variety of applications.”

Lukas Weder, founding partner at Wingman Ventures commented: “Energy-intensive production processes have been a key talking point across the board. But we’re seeing action now. Two important things are happening that are driving this action. Firstly, heavy industry is willing to invest in solutions to tackle the problem and secondly, better quality solutions are available. The UniSieve technology solution has been tried, tested and is ready to be deployed and so, perfectly positioned to help companies quickly to build very powerful energy-efficient production processes”

Wolfgang Neubert, General Partner at the Amadeus APEX Technology Fund, commented: “UniSieve is our first industrial technology investment in Switzerland. We were impressed by the team’s bringing this academic thesis to life and not only this to make it commercially viable and scalable. It has the potential to be hugely impactful for the world. We look forward to supporting the team on their journey.”

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