A low-carbon future built from thin air
Metal Tech News – June 14, 2023
Last updated 7/4/2023 at 12:17pm
Climate-tech firm Is locking up CO2 into a next-gen carbon material that outperforms energy-intensive building products.
Texas-based climate-tech startup DexMat is transforming greenhouse gases into a carbon nanomaterial that is stronger than steel, lighter than aluminum, and as conductive as copper. Boasting many of the superlatives of its carbon cousin graphene, this new wonder material called Galvorn has the earmarks of a futuristic climate-saving building material that can be made out of thin air.
Based on a technology that was originally developed in the laboratory of Rice University Professor Matteo Pasquali, Galvorn nanomaterial can be formed into yarns, cables, tapes, woven fabrics, composites, and three-dimensional structures.
These high-strength, ultra-lightweight, conductive, flexible, corrosion-resistant, and biocompatible products have a wide array of potential applications in the construction, energy, automotive, aviation, textiles, and electronic sectors.
And, according to DexMat, the more Galvorn is used, the less carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere. This is because products made from this intrinsic carbon-capture-and-storage nanomaterial would displace some of our more traditional carbon- and energy-intensive building materials like steel, aluminum, and copper.
"Galvorn products can eventually displace up to three gigatons of carbon emissions from hard-to-abate industrial sectors every year – and not with a product that's lacking in comparison to traditional materials, but with a product that is actually far superior on almost every front," said DexMat CEO Bryan Hassin.
Multilayer climate credentials
Galvorn's climate credentials begin with how this carbon nanomaterial is made.
The current Galvorn feedstock is methane (CH4), a powerful greenhouse gas in its own right and the main ingredient of natural gas. So, every product made from Galvorn is locking up methane's GHG potential into carbon nanotubes.
And, when powered by renewable energy, the production of Galvorn has a zero-emissions energy footprint.
DexMat's longer-term plan is to lower the carbon footprint of Galvorn production into the negative territory by making the carbon nanotube product from CO2 captured from the atmosphere.
"By using renewable natural gas as a feedstock and, in the longer term, using captured carbon dioxide as technologies such as direct air capture mature and scale, Galvorn production becomes heavily carbon negative," according to DexMat's website.
Galvorn's climate credentials become even stronger once the material is used.
The high-performance cables, fabrics, composites, and other products made from Galvorn offer a low-carbon alternative to aluminum, iron, copper, and other energy-intensive building materials.
An assessment by Shell Ventures, the venture capital arm of Shell committed to accelerating the energy and mobility transition, determined that using Galvorn products instead of traditional materials for heavy industry could eventually displace up to 3 gigatons of industrial CO2 emissions per year.
Given this potential, Shell Ventures was a leading investor in a $3 million seed financing for DexMat earlier this year.
"DexMat presents an opportunity to capture methane, an abundant and inexpensive resource, and use it to replace materials such as steel, aluminum, and copper with a more sustainable option," said Aimee LaFleur, investment principal at Shell. "We are excited to be part of DexMat's journey going forward and to realize their ambitions."
DexMat's ambitious journey to a future where anything from clothing to an electrical grid can be made out of thin air is being led by Hassin, a veteran climate tech entrepreneur that stepped into the role as CEO at the time of the seed financing.
"The opportunity to eventually cut up to 3 gigatons of CO2 annually in one of the most underserved markets of the clean energy transition – heavy industry – was too important for me to pass by," he said at the time.
One of the first milestones along that journey was the securing of two Galvorn-related patents from Rice University, where the miraculous carbon nanofiber product was invented.
These new patents enable DexMat to produce Galvorn fibers using a proprietary solution-based fiber spinning method initially developed at Rice. Galvorn fiber produced by this method is 12 times stronger, more than six times less dense, and up to 50% higher thermally conductive than copper.
These high-performance properties can be used for electrical wiring, electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding, batteries, antennae, composite panels, electrodes, and wearable electronic garments.
"We truly value our strong connections with Rice University, and we're thrilled to have the opportunity now to accelerate DexMat's growth by securing additional IP (intellectual properties) developed by some of the school's brilliant researchers," said Dmitri Tsentalovich, chief technical officer at DexMat. "By integrating this IP into DexMat's state-of-the-art Galvorn production process, we've created an even more durable and useful product that will benefit both our customers and the planet."
Hussein is eager to spin CO2 into nanocarbon products with multiple layers of climate benefits.
"This company continues to hit exciting milestones in quick succession, and that's good news for climate mitigation efforts," the climate-tech entrepreneur and DexMat CEO said.