A Texan startup that turns carbon emissions into baking soda (among other things) has raised a huge new round and plans to break ground on its first commercial scale plant this summer. And we thought all those capital intensive cleantech startups were long gone.
Austin-based Skyonic announced on Tuesday that it’s raised a $128 million Series C round from big name players in the oil and gas industries, which will help fund its inaugural commercial factory at a cement mill in San Antonio, Texas. Earlier today President Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to complete regulations to limit carbon emissions from new and existing power plants.
Skyonic has developed a post-combustion technology that grabs CO2 out of power plants and industrial processes and spits out byproducts like sodium bicarbonate, or basic baking soda, and hydrochloric acid. The process can also remove heavy metals and acid gases.
The technology has been of interest to the oil and gas industry because they could potentially remove carbon emissions from their energy production processes and also produce a material that can be sold on the market. Investors include Canadian oil giant Cenovus Energy, ConocoPhillips, BP Ventures, Energy Technology Ventures, BlueCap Partners, Toyo-Thai Corporation Public Company Limited, Berg & Berg Enterprises, Northwater Capital Management, PVS Chemicals, and Zachry Corporation.
Skyonic has already been demoing its tech at the Capitol Aggregates cement plant in San Antonio, and also on another pilot plant in Texas. But the new plant at the Capital cement plant will be able to remove more than 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide (this is directly and indirectly). The plant owners hope to turn a profit on the sale of the bi-products from the carbon capture process within three years.
All eyes will be on whether or not this plant is successfully built on time and on budget and if the plant really is profitable on selling its bi-products after three years. There’s been a lot of hype, a lot of money misspent, and a lot of goals not met when it comes to carbon capture technologies. Remember FutureGen?