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Why we invested in Mission Zero Technologies

Why we invested in Mission Zero Technologies: The world’s most scalable direct air capture solution

Global CO2 emissions surpassed 40 gigatonnes in 2023, highlighting the need for a decisive juncture for our planet. To limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as set out in the Paris Agreement, in addition to drastically reducing new emissions we need to remove vast volumes of already emitted CO2 from the atmosphere. Globally, scientists forecast that up to 10 gigatonnes of CO2 will need to be removed from the atmosphere annually by 2050.

To achieve this, rapidly scalable carbon dioxide removal (CDR) solutions will be required. While nature-based carbon removal solutions offer a good basis, standalone they won’t be sufficient to provide scalable, short-term deployable and permanent storage solutions. In complementing nature-based solutions, Direct Air Capture (DAC) technologies will play a pivotal role in saving our planet.

Unlocking DAC’s potential

While DAC offers an attractive solution in the long-run, the current bottlenecks of scalability and affordability need to be overcome. According to the IEA Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, DAC technologies must capture more than 85 Mt CO2 in 2030 and around 980 Mt CO2 in 2050. As of today, all commissioned DAC plants capture less than 0.01 Mt CO2. In addition, existing solutions struggle to provide cost-efficient solutions and require large scale plants to bring down the cost-curve, which inherits an increased risk of uncertainty of technological viability alongside significant upfront CAPEX investments.

Our investment thesis is based on Mission Zero's pragmatic approach to overcome these bottlenecks through leveraging its versatile modular technology to deliver DAC cost effectively and at scale, starting today.

Mission Zero’s Mission Statement: "We want to leverage our DAC systems to remove 1 Gt CO2 by 2040." 

Mission Zero Technologies — A pragmatic approach to technical excellence 

Mission Zero was founded in London in 2020 by a driven team of commercially-minded technical experts, Dr Nicholas Chadwick, Dr Shiladitya Ghosh and Dr Gaël Gobaille-Shaw. Since then, the team has already developed and launched the UK’s first ever commercial DAC plant. The team is on-track to deploy an additional two systems in 2024.

Overcoming DAC’s cost challenge

For the market to be willing to adopt DAC as a viable technology, reaching cost-competitiveness with alternative carbon removal solutions will be critical. Mission Zero has developed a novel DAC system at significantly lower cost than traditional DAC technologies based on i) energy savings, ii) process efficiency, and iii) a modular approach.

Mission Zero’s technology is based on electrochemical CO2 regeneration that allows operating at ambient temperature and pressure, resulting in energy savings of up to 62.5% compared to competitors in the market today.[1]Mission Zero can also optimize for cost by varying energy consumption according to renewable power pricing. In addition, Mission Zero’s electrochemical process unlocks the deployment of solvents that are 2.5x faster at capturing CO2, increasing the process efficiency. In combination with the modular deployment approach, allowing for a feasible commercially supported scale up roadmap, Mission Zero is expected to reach market leading CO2 prices already at a capacity of 1,000 t CO2 per year. Using existing industrial off-the-shelf units will support the team’s high-speed scale up plan in leveraging proven components and established supply chains.

Accelerating the cost-down curve

To allow for further decreasing cost in the short-term, a pragmatic iterative approach to technology advancement and a versatile commercialization approach are key. While Generation 1.0 has already been deployed, Mission Zero is already working on its next generation of technology.

A multi-faceted commercialization strategy-including CAPEX sales to serve the carbon utilization and carbon storage market - is the enabler for iterative technology advancements to rapidly bring down the cost-curve.

This strategy needs to not only target carbon credit certificate pioneer purchasers that pay for carbon storage, but also major players in hard-to-abate industries that face tightening sustainability regulations and therefore need to reinvent their product suite. Examples of such industries include cement manufacturing and aviation, where DAC plays a key role in providing a new sustainable carbon source for utilization in net-zero cement or Synthetic Aviation Fuel (SAF).

Mission Zero is following a versatile commercialization strategy across utilization and storage use cases. In 2024, Mission Zero will already have three systems on the ground in projects pioneering CO2 mineralisation, carbon-negative building materials, and sustainable aviation fuel.    

Scaling the revolution

Since 2020, the founders have built a world-class technical and commercial team and strong commercial partnerships including world-leading EPCs to support their ambitious scale up plans. These plans will now be backed by a £21.8 million Series A funding round. We are thrilled to join a strong consortium of leading climate tech and strategic investors, including 2150, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Fortescue and Siemens Financial Services in supporting the company.
Key agenda items for the near future are the accelerated development of the next DAC generation, which can be mass deployed and midterm the unlocking of a mega tonne annual capacity by the end of the decade. In parallel, major commercialisation opportunities are being unlocked against a favourable backdrop of new EU regulatory frameworks on Carbon Removal. We are very proud to support such an outstanding technical and pragmatic founding team on their journey towards making a substantial contribution to a regenerative world!

[1] WRI, 2022

Daria Saharova, World Fund

Managing Partner

daria@worldfund.vc

Larissa Skarke, World Fund

Principal

larissa@worldfund.vc

March 18, 2024

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