This French startup helps industries reduce carbon emissions by converting CO2 into natural raw materials; raises €11M

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France-based CarbonWorks, a company specialising in the use of microalgae to capture and utilise carbon dioxide, announced on Wednesday that it has raised €11M in its Series A round of funding.

The round was led jointly by BNP Paribas Principal Investments, Bpifrance, Demeter Investment Managers via its Agrinnovation fund, and Aquiti Gestion via NACO, in association with France’s Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. In addition, CarbonWorks’ founders Fermentalg and Suez also participated in the round.

CarbonWorks, Fermentalg, SUEZ

CarbonWorks was created by Fermentalg and Suez in 2021 following a 5-year research programme. The company enables industrial players to convert their CO2 emissions into efficient and safe raw materials on a large scale.

Fermentalg, which is based in Libourne, France, is an industrial biotechnology company that specialises in the production of oil rich in fatty acids (omega-3), proteins and natural pigments (phycocyanin) by fermentation of microalgae. Besides, the company also uses its proprietary algal bio-filters to capture CO2 and other harmful atmospheric pollutants in urban centres.

Suez is a utility company that operates mainly in the water and waste management sectors. The company claims to be the largest private water provider in the world, by the number of people served.

Charles Chami, Director of Suez, says, “This funding round achieves two things for CarbonWorks: It confirms the market’s interest in this disruptive innovation, and it brings the company closer to new ecosystems that are necessary for its development, such as future agriculture. CarbonWorks aims to build technological and financial partnerships offering fast, large-scale solutions to help combat global warming. We are proud to be a partner of choice to help overcome this vital challenge for our planet and future generations.”

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A technology that transforms CO2 into natural raw materials

CarbonWorks is an industrial deeptech startup that is developing a technology to serve the circular carbon economy. The company helps industrial players reduce their carbon footprint by capturing CO2 and converting it into natural raw materials through microalgal photosynthesis – a process referred to as “carbon capture and utilisation”.

To produce these bioproducts on a large scale and maximise their impact on the ecological transition, CarbonWorks is developing an industrial photobioreactor standard. It will be capable of capturing several thousand tonnes of CO2 at the source of emission and producing equivalent quantities of algal biomass, intended primarily for the agricultural and human and animal nutrition markets.

In September 2021, the company installed an initial demo of its technology at the methanation site of the company Pot-au-Pin Energie in the town of Cestas in France’s Gironde department. According to the company, the platform currently has a capacity of 10 m3 (cubic metre) and not only helps limit carbon emissions but also produces an algal bio-component that can be used as a natural fungicide instead of synthetic pesticides, especially in vineyards.

Capital utilisation and plans for 2023

CarbonWorks claims that the funds will be used in building a semi-industrial-scale photobioreactor, which it plans to put into service in 2023. It marks a key step forward in the ambitious project to promote a circular carbon economy, says the company.

The semi-industrial-scale reactor in Cestas, France, is scheduled for completion in 2023. That unit will have a capacity of several dozen cubic metres.

In addition, the funds will also be invested by CarbonWorks to triple its workforce over the next two years. This will help them intensify technical and commercial development and enter into partnerships with industry players in agriculture and sustainable food.

Guillaume Charpy, CEO of CarbonWorks, says, “This funding round marks a key stage in our growth, allowing us to team up with funds that are leaders in the industrial and ecological transition. Their trust in us, and the renewed support from our founders Fermentalg and Suez, confirms the importance of what we are developing and our ability to provide concrete responses to two major environmental challenges of our time: reducing carbon emissions and producing natural raw materials.”

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Vishal Singh

Vishal Singh is a News Reporter and Social Media Marketing Lead at Silicon Canals. He covers developments in the European startup ecosystem and oversees the publication's social media presence. Before joining Silicon Canals, Vishal gained experience at the Indian digital media outlet Inc42, contributing to its growth with insightful content. Despite being a college dropout, his passion for writing has driven his career in journalism.

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