Sustaera Inc Receives $10mn from Bill Gates-Backed Fund

Sustaera Inc., a company that extracts planet-warming CO2 from the atmosphere, has acquired $10 million in a Series A investment sponsored by Bill Gates’ climate funds and billionaire investor Jeremy Grantham, Bloomberg reports.

The firm, situated in North Carolina, absorbs CO2 with a low-cost, readily available alkali-based substance. Unlike other carbon-capture companies, their method does not involve fossil-fuel heat and can operate purely on renewable energy. Stripe Inc., a supplier of payment systems, has become the company’s first customer.

Sustaera is attempting to overcome one of the most difficult challenges in carbon removal: scaling the technology, which is still costly and difficult to implement. Per the Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Agarwal, the company’s machine is created in a modular form, with single pieces that can be placed together “like Lego blocks.”

It also “leverages existing systems, delivery systems, and production,” instead of starting from scratch, according to Agarwal.

The world’s biggest carbon-removal facility, capable of removing 4,000 tons of CO2 per year, began operations in Iceland in September. Consumers can pay up to $1,200 per ton of CO2 offsets from the Iceland plant to Climeworks AG. Acquisitions in bulk, like those made by Gates, can account for up to $600 per ton.

Stripe has agreed to pay $700 per ton for carbon caught by Sustaera’s first machinery, which is expected to be finished in 2023 and would clear 10 tons of carbon dioxide per day. California, Florida, Texas, North Dakota, Wyoming, as well as Spain and Oman, are all potential locations for the company’s equipment.

According to Carmichael Roberts, who co-leads the fund’s investment committee, the utilization of current supply networks and ease of scaling attracted Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Sustaera Inc intends to construct a unit in 2027 that will be capable of removing 1 million tons of waste per year and will require around 100 acres of land. According to Agarwal, the business should be able to aim at a capture price of $78 per ton after that.

He admitted that direct air capture is still far from achieving the levels required to remove enough carbon from the atmosphere to make a significant effect on global warming.