Joining the ranks of European climatetech companies including Switzerland’s Climeworks and Italy’s CarpeCarbon, Belgium now has its first entry into the first of startups leveraging direct air capture technology to suck carbon out of the air in Sirona Technologies.
Direct Air Capture
Sirona's DAC technology uses fans to push air through a chemical filter that specifically captures CO² molecules while letting all others return to the ambient air. This filter, also known as a sorbent, is then heated using steam, releasing the captured CO² in a gaseous state. As for the heat required to complete this task, the company intends to leverage the growth of solar energy and combine it with heat pumps and thermal storage to generate even more heat while simultaneously solving the sun-dependant nature of solar energy.
The final phase of the process involves the compression of this captured CO² gas and its transfer to either permanent storage in geological formations or conversion into other valuable products including aviation fuels, pharmaceutical production, battery recycling processes for electric vehicles, carbon-neutral construction materials, and the production of carbonated beverages.
Tesla lineage, CERN science
So far, what the crew of the good ship Sirona is working on doesn’t really stand miles apart from what likely competitors are working on. That is, until you look at who’s at the helm: former Tesla engineer Thoralf Gutierrez and thermodynamics engineer Dr. Gauthier Limpens, Ph.D.
Add a healthy dose of specialists focusing on particle physics, carbon capture, chemical engineering, and aerospace engineering hailing from CERN, Oxford University, and UCLouvain and the USP begins to reveal itself.
Having led the development of Tesla’s big data analytics stack to increase the speed of iteration on their hardware products, and building the engineering team behind it, scaling up a hardware company in record time is in Sirona co-founder Thoralf Gutierrez's blood.
Guitierrez further explains:
“Climate change is the most important problem of our era. It demands that we make bold and ambitious bets. My experience at Tesla showed me what you can do when you assemble a team of exceptional, mission-driven engineers. That’s exactly what we’re doing, and it will be crucial to scaling our impact on climate change as quickly as possible.”
It’s this commitment to speedy iterations that has allowed the company, only officially founded in January of this year, to build its first prototype in less than two months. Six months later, the team is now testing gen three of its product, reporting an efficacy increase of 100x over v1.
Sirona Technologies CTO and co-founder Gauthier Limpens adds:
“During my tenure in the field, I've come to realise the urgent need to scale up this technology right now, for it to be available tomorrow. It's not a question of choosing one solution over another as they will all be needed; rather, it's about integrating DAC into our broader strategy to effectively and rapidly reduce atmospheric CO² levels in a post-fossil-energy era.”
$1 million Pre-Seed round
The company closed a previously undisclosed $1 million Pre-Seed funding round earlier this year and is backed by XAnge, David Rowan’s VOYAGERS Climate-Tech Fund, Syndicate One (disclaimer: Tech.eu founder Robin Wauters is a member of Syndicate One), engineers from Tesla and SpaceX, Cowboy’s Adrien Roose, Aerospacelab’s Benoit Deper, Eventbrite co-founder Renaud Visage, and eFounders’ Thibaud Elziere, and others.
Lead image: The Sirona Technologies team. Photo: Uncredited.