Element Zero raises $10 million to scale up green materials platform

Business Wire

January 19, 2024

Business Wire is reporting that Element Zero, a green materials platform company, has raised US$10 million in seed funding led by Playground Global. The company has developed a novel approach to cost-effectively convert metal ores, such as iron, nickel, and other future-facing materials, to pure metals with zero carbon emissions. The low energy consumption and the ability to operate using intermittent renewable energy underpins the company’s capability to reduce carbon emissions on a global scale. Element Zero will use the funding to grow R&D, engineering, and project development teams and scale the development of a pilot iron plant. Peter Barrett, co-founder and general partner at Playground Global, has joined the company's board of directors.

“Element Zero will help transform Western Australia from the world's mine into the world's foundry, dramatically reducing carbon emissions in the process,” said Playground Global’s Peter Barrett. “Australia is poised to become a leader in resilient and sustainable global prosperity – its natural wealth in minerals and renewable energy blended with innovation in electrochemistry and new materials will cement its leadership in the energy transformation. Element Zero is a major catalyst in this shift and the Pilbara region in the north of Western Australia stands as the premier location globally to showcase the company’s potential.”

Initial focus on converting iron ore to iron with novel processing platform

Element Zero has created a low-temperature mineral processing platform that uses renewable energy to convert iron ore to iron. This nonaqueous electrochemical process allows Element Zero to process the full spectrum of iron ores; this includes the core 95 percent of Australian and Brazilian global trade in iron ore. Currently, lower grade iron ore cannot be processed using hydrogen-fed direct iron reduction or other lower carbon processing technologies. The technology has been tested successfully on iron ore, nickel, and other future facing metals. The lower temperature also allows Element Zero to run this process on intermittent renewables like wind, solar, and hydropower.

The current Element Zero prototype is capable of producing 100 kg of zero-carbon iron per day while offering superior product purity – a testimony of the team’s capabilities and the simplicity and scalability of the process itself. Most notably, Element Zero:

  • Achieved this milestone in 18 months, while proponents of other electrochemical technologies spent nearly a decade reaching a similar scale.
  • Completed a detailed engineering design for one metric ton per day and is in the midst of a procurement and manufacturing process while a 100 kg per day prototype is being tested and optimized using iron ore feed from major iron ore producers.
  • Aims for the next scale-up to be completed and commissioned by end of 2024.
  • The Element Zero team comprises experienced leaders in the energy and materials industries with electrochemistry, engineering, metallurgy, project deployment, and fundraising expertise: https://elementzero.green/
  • Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael Masterman previously served as executive chairman of Squadron Energy, Australia's largest renewable energy company. Prior to that, he was the chief financial officer and chief investment officer of Fortescue Future Industries, driving the company’s evolution from startup to global expansion and scale. He is a founding shareholder in several multibillion dollar startups.
  • Fellow co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Bart Kolodziejczyk served as director of Hydrogen and Clean Technologies at Boston Consulting Group and chief scientist at Fortescue Metals Group.

About Element Zero
Element Zero is a green materials platform company working towards zero-carbon iron and steel and other future-facing metal production. Headquartered in Australia, the company has developed a cost-effective and efficient pathway to convert iron ore and other minerals into their pure metal form with zero carbon emissions. The modular approach of the Element Zero process aims to address 8 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from iron and steelmaking. Element Zero is developing a portfolio of projects to accelerate market adoption, the first of which will be located in the north of Western Australia, the world's largest source and holder of iron ore reserves. Learn more at elementzero.green.

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