Technology replaces heat with light to power combustion-less, low-emission chemical reactions for cleaner, more cost-efficient production of fuel, fertilizer and plastics
Syzygy , a technology company developing the world’s highest performance photocatalyst for the industrial gas, chemical and energy industries, today announced a $23 million Series B financing led by Horizons Ventures with participation from new global investors including Equinor Ventures. Previous seed and Series A investors including The Engine, GOOSE Capital, and Evok Innovations also joined the round. The capital raised will fund product development, hiring and the commercialization of Syzygy’s photocatalytic reactor, which are key steps toward delivering on the company’s mission to reduce emissions using light to replace heat from fossil fuels in chemical manufacturing and production.
Today, the production of chemicals such as plastics, fuels, fertilizers, and hydrogen is primarily reliant on fossil fuel. The heat demand to power the combustion processes for chemical production accounts for 3.6% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Syzygy’s photocatalytic technology replaces heat with light to trigger these chemical reactions – a transformation in industrial processing that aims to reduce 1GT of CO2 emissions by 2040.
“With renewable electricity as an energy source, our technology is cleaner, and because of the stability and activity of our photocatalysts, we can drive dozens of possibilities, tuning reactions that produce different chemicals,” said Trevor Best, Syzygy Plasmonics’ co-founder and CEO. “Our initial product will focus on eliminating emissions from hydrogen production, transforming the industrial process involved in making semiconductors, LEDs and metals. Our system will also enable industries that are consumers of hydrogen fuel cells, like fuel cell vehicles.”
Based on photocatalysts invented at Rice University by co-founders and professors Naomi Halas and Peter Nordlander and developed under the leadership of Syzygy’s co-founder and CTO Dr. Suman Khatiwada, Syzygy’s light-powered reactors are modular and scalable, built from lower-cost materials with far milder operating conditions than their traditional counterparts. The elimination of the combustion of fuel, coupled with the ability to operate at low temperatures in a distributed, decentralized manner will enable the shift from high-cost production plants, bringing the production of chemicals closer to the end user and effectively further driving down costs and emissions by eliminating those associated with distribution. Syzygy’s first product offering is aimed at hydrogen where the technology has the potential to cut the cost of zero emission hydrogen in half, when compared to other alternatives such as electrolysis.
The technology has attracted interest and support from a roster of international investors and energy partners spanning the U.S., Asia, and Europe. New investors include: Hong Kong-based Horizons Ventures, which funds especially disruptive and technology-focused start-ups; and Equinor Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Norway-based Equinor, an international energy company operating in more than 30 countries.
“The keys to unlock the potential of hydrogen energy lie within production cost reduction and safety enhancements. Syzygy uses a photocatalysis process to produce H2 on premises, therefore mitigating risks of explosion imposed by the transportation of liquid hydrogen while lowering production costs to increase overall energy efficiency. This technology will be applicable to a wide-range of use-cases, enabling a faster path toward zero-emissions,” said Patrick Poon of Horizons Ventures, the new board member of Syzygy.
“We have announced our ambition to become a net-zero energy company by 2050 and in order for society at large to meet its climate goals it will require new solutions and technologies. We are pleased to announce the investment in Syzygy as one potential contributor to help the energy industry reduce emissions as part of our effort to shape the future of energy,” said Gareth Burns, Head of Equinor Ventures.
Syzygy’s team brings together world-class academic, entrepreneurial and chemical and engineering talent from Rice University, University of Houston and Baker Hughes. The company employs 26 and anticipates doubling its workforce over the next 12 months, hiring top-tier mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineering, project and supply chain management talent. Team expansion will help continue to scale Syzygy’s technology to achieve its first full-size, commercial-ready chemical reactors in 2022.
Previously, Syzygy raised nearly $12M and secured Department of Energy ARPA-E and National Science Foundation SBIR Program grants.
ABOUT SYZYGY PLASMONICS
Founded in 2017 based on technology licensed from Rice University, Syzygy is developing a first of its kind photocatalytic reactor to electrify chemical production. When powered with renewable electricity, this platform technology is able to reduce both cost and emissions from many different chemical reactions. Syzygy’s go-to-market focus will be on utilizing different feedstocks to transform the economics of zero emission hydrogen production and help accelerate the energy transition. After market entry with hydrogen, Syzygy plans to expand into other reactions such as CO2 to value, fertilizer, and commodity chemicals.
ABOUT HORIZONS VENTURES
Horizons Ventures, the private investment arm of Mr. Li Ka-shing, is a leading investor in some of the world’s most innovative companies and disruptive technologies, including Facebook, Waze, Spotify, Zoom, Impossible Foods and ZeroAvia.
ABOUT EQUINOR VENTURES
Equinor Ventures is Equinor’s corporate venture capital arm dedicated to investing in ambitious early phase and growth companies. We believe that the innovation, creativity and agility of start-ups can drive change, and transition the energy industry towards a low carbon future.