• Unlocking decarbonising opportunity for heavy industry

Air Clean Up

Unlocking decarbonising opportunity for heavy industry

Apr 27 2023

UniSieve unlocks decarbonising opportunity for heavy industry as it lands $5.5m seed funding round," says the headline. UniSieve's CEO, Samuel Hess, explains that their high-precision membrane solution is capable of decarbonizing heavily emitting industries by reducing heating and cooling in chemicals and improving carbon capture. Hess adds that 10-15% of the world's energy consumption is dedicated to separation and purification, which is a critical process step in most industries.

In Zurich, Switzerland, on April 26th, 2023, UniSieve announced a $5.5m seed funding round that will enable them to pilot and expand production capacities. The round was oversubscribed, with participation from a venture capital consortium that includes the Amadeus APEX Technology Fund, Wingman Ventures, Ciech Ventures, and Zürcher Kantonalbank.

Heavy industries such as chemical or energy companies are among the largest carbon emitting sources, yet they are committed to the Net-Zero goals of the Paris Agreement. UniSieve has identified a unique and innovative opportunity to help them achieve their targets. The biggest challenge facing heavy industries is creating energy efficiencies in their legacy, highly energy-intensive assets worth billions of dollars. For example, in chemical plants, a major energy drain is the chain of separation and purification steps, which still depend on highly energy-intensive thermal processes. UniSieve is seeking to solve this significant energy drain to help these industries get closer to Net-Zero goals.

UniSieve stands for "universal sieving." The company's membrane-based separation solutions can separate chemicals, energy carriers, or CO2 from flue gas based on size exclusion, without heat or cold. The solution bypasses the need for heating or cooling through sieving membranes that can reduce the energy needed for separating and purifying molecules by up to 90%.

Hess explains that the concept of sieving is as simple as a coffee filter holding back the coffee powder from an espresso. However, it becomes tricky when separating chemicals that vary in size by a fraction of an angstrom only. To do so, the sieve must be extremely narrow and precise. The UniSieve membrane is a structure made of a highly ordered network of porous crystals that generate in a repeating pattern, much like ancient Roman mosaics.

UniSieve was founded in 2018 by university class fellows Samuel Hess and Elia Schneider. While studying at ETH Zürich, they discovered the means to manufacture and integrate porous crystals (zeolitic materials) into polymeric membranes. Pre-seed funding from Wingman Ventures and several prestigious grants from the European Union, the Swiss government, and private foundations enabled them to prove the hypothesis of their scalable and affordable high-performing membranes.

UniSieve has run pilot testing with industry leaders, which have demonstrated that the separation solution works. Today, they have several contracts signed and under negotiation to pilot their membranes in a variety of applications. According to Lukas Weder, founding partner at Wingman Ventures, energy-intensive production processes have been a key talking point across the board. But now, we are seeing action, and heavy industry is willing to invest in solutions to tackle the problem. The UniSieve technology solution has been tried, tested, and is ready to be deployed, perfectly positioned to help companies build powerful and energy-efficient production processes quickly.

Wolfgang Neubert, General Partner at the Amadeus APEX Technology Fund, is impressed by UniSieve's team's ability to bring their academic thesis to life and make it commercially viable and scalable. He believes that UniSieve has the potential to be hugely impactful for the world and looks forward to supporting the team on their journey.


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