Toulouse-based startup I-ROX has raised €12 million in funds for its R&D programme aimed at delivering electricity for mining from pulsed power energy sources, capable of matching a nuclear reactor's output "in a millionth of a second."
Breakthrough Energy Ventures Europe (BEV-E), the €100 million fund formed by the Bill Gates-founded endeavour Breakthrough with EIB and European Commission support three years back, is the only named investor in this I-ROX funding round.
I-ROX is announcing its arrival with a real top-tier recruitment for building the pulsed power technology, which would be used to crunch through rocks in mineral exploration, albeit using a large dose of plasma physics that's beyond comprehension for most.
In its technology and innovation lead Dr. Mahadevan Krishnan, I-ROX has a plasma physicist who's built pulsed power models before, having contributed to a "multi-terrawatt" US defence x-ray, as well as enabling other generator systems for the US defence department.
I-ROX was conceived as a team play between BEV-E and i-Pulse, a privately-owned business domiciled in the US.
The chairman of iPulse, Robert Friedland, commented: "Over 4% of global energy consumption is used to crush and grind rocks and we believe I-ROX can significantly lower this energy requirement.
"This energy usage is a tremendous cost in both money and carbon emissions.
"For the mining industry to move to carbon neutrality and beyond, it has to re-invent the entire mining process, and especially how it generates and consumes energy. "
Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures stressed the I-ROX concept was a "rare opportunity" to drive lower energy demand in processing mineral ores.
"Minerals such as copper, nickel and cobalt are essential for the energy transition," Roberts said.