In Bill Joy’s talk at MIT’s Emerging Technologies Conference this week, he discussed one of his investments, green building company Solidia Technologies, for one of the first times. The startup, founded in 2008, just came out of stealth earlier this month at the GreenBuild show in Toronto, and has developed a technology that combines minerals with carbon dioxide using low temperature and pressure, resulting in building materials with a far lower carbon and energy footprint than current building materials on the market.
Solidia’s technology is called “Low Temperature Solidification (LTS)” and it’s essentially a speeding-up of the natural process of CO2 combining with minerals to make solids, so that the process happens in hours rather than years. Solidia says it can use the technology to make both exterior and interior materials for roofs, wall panels, flooring, and countertops.
Smartly, Solidia plans to license its technology to building construction companies. It’s not really a good time to be investing hundreds of millions of dollars into building a green factory and producing large volumes of their own product. Solidia also has a partnership with building manufacturing machinery company Simec.
Joy said in his talk that he tries to invest in companies that offer better products, not just low-energy and low-carbon products. Solidia says on its web site that its building materials can be both stronger, less expensive and can possibly provide better insulation. However, unless the materials offer customers a significant return on investment, there’s little market right now for premium eco-products without a financial benefit.
Joy’s firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, along with Bright Capital, have invested $29 million into Solidia, and Kleiner Operating Partner Jan van Dokkum has taken over Solidia as acting CEO and President. Solidia’s technology was developed by Rutgers Professor Richard Riman.
Image courtesy of Payton Chung.