Bill Gates, Chris Sacca Invest in tech for Net Zero Emissions in Heavy Industries

Highlights :

  • The California based start-up looks to decarbonize industrial processes by employing baron based thermal batteries that store heat from solar and wind sources of energy and offer an alternative to the natural gas boilers employed by heavy industries.
  • Antora Energy announced that it has raised $50 million in a financing round.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Chris Sacca, an early investor in Uber, Twitter, and Instagram, are investing in the US-based start-up Antora Energy to help mitigate climate change. Although Antora Energy is in the early stages of alleviating greenhouse gas emissions from heavy industries, its technology looks promising.

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Bill Gates is investing in Antora Energy through investing arm Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Chris Sacca is doing the same through Lowercarbon Capital.

Antora Energy has announced that it has raised $50 million in its latest financing round, to which Shell has also contributed through one of its venture arm.

Antora Energy takes power from renewable energy sources like wind and solar and then converts that to heat energy. The converted heat is stored in blocks of solid carbon. The carbon blocks act like a thermal battery. The heated blocks are isolated so that no heat energy is lost. The stored energy can be employed as heat in industrial processes to make materials like cement and steel. The stored heat can also be used for electricity generation.

The company says that the carbon-based thermal battery can replace natural gas-based boilers. They will come in sizes equivalent to a small house or a large truck. Antora Energy has planned to sell the zero-emissions alternative to large industries at a lower price.

The company believes that heat and electricity derived from solar and wind energy sources will be cheaper than natural gas. It says that buyers will always choose the lower price option.

Andrew Ponec who earlier ran solar company Dragonfly Systems, co-founder Justin Briggs and David Bierman joined forces to start Antora Energy.

“The biggest opportunity that we saw was how to take all of this very inexpensive wind and solar and apply it to different areas of the economy that produce a lot of carbon,” adds Andrew Ponec.

He opines, “The calcination of limestone only occurs at temperatures above 1,000 Celsius, and so you have to have very high temperature storage in order to drive that reaction to make cement.” He also says that to reach those levels of heat, the energy has to be stored at even higher temperatures, because temperature only flows downhill.

Ponec says that the use of carbon in the process doesn’t mean carbonization of the system as this carbon stays in the liquid until heated at 3,600 degree Celsius. Also, carbon is economic and already used in solid state in aluminum and steel industries.

Antora Energy

The company was founded in 2017 for renewable energy and semiconductor manufacturing. It is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.

Antora Energy says that it’s electrifying heavy industry with zero-carbon heat and power and making it possible and profitable to fully rely on renewable energy for industrial processes. It turns sunshine and wind into 24/7 heat and power, cheaper than fossil fuels. “Our future hinges on heavy industry. Antora Energy’s technology eliminates the need to burn fossil fuels for industrial heat and power, the biggest source of greenhouse gasses on earth,” it says.

Investing entity Breakthrough Energy Ventures was founded by Bill Gates in 2015 with an objective to expedite innovation in technology in sustainable energy that could reduce greenhouse gases and improve global climate.

Similarly, Lowercarbon Capital – through which Chris Sacca is investing in Antora Energy – backs companies and ventures that slash carbon dioxide emissions and also sequester carbon from the atmosphere, allowing mankind time to resolve some of the climate issues created so far on the planet. Fully electric airplanes, enzymes’ made chemicals, cleaner and faster lithium mining, zero carbon cement, non-GMO meat cultivation, etc. are some of the technologies that the group is investing in to arrest CO2 emission.

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