Element Zero, a green materials platform company, has announced securing $10 million in seed funding led by Playground Global. The innovative firm has devised a cost-effective method to convert metal ores, such as iron and nickel, into pure metals with zero carbon emissions. This breakthrough, characterized by low energy consumption and compatibility with intermittent renewable energy sources, positions Element Zero to significantly reduce global carbon emissions. The funding will be utilized to expand research and development, engineering, and project development teams, and to accelerate the development of a pilot iron plant. Playground Global’s Co-Founder and General Partner, Peter Barrett, has also joined Element Zero’s board of directors.
Element Zero has pioneered a low-temperature mineral processing platform that employs renewable energy to transform iron ore into iron. This electrochemical process, operating without water, enables the comprehensive processing of iron ores, encompassing the predominant 95% of Australian and Brazilian global iron ore trade. Notably, the technology is effective for lower-grade iron ore, a challenge for other carbon-reducing technologies. The process has been successfully tested on iron ore, nickel, and other forward-looking metals, and its lower operating temperature allows Element Zero to utilize intermittent renewables like wind, solar, and hydropower.
The current prototype from Element Zero can produce 100 kg of zero-carbon iron daily, boasting superior product purity. This achievement was realized in just 18 months, a stark comparison to other electrochemical technologies that took nearly a decade to reach a similar scale. The company has completed a detailed engineering design for a one metric ton per day facility and is in the process of procurement and manufacturing, while simultaneously optimizing the 100 kg per day prototype with iron ore feed from major producers. Element Zero aims to complete and commission the next scale-up by the end of 2024.
Recognizing the urgent need for global decarbonization, Element Zero addresses the energy and carbon-intensive nature of iron, steel, and metal production. These industries contribute over 30% of carbon emissions from materials and more than 8% of global carbon emissions. With demand for these materials set to double by 2050, Element Zero’s platform offers a cost-effective solution for decarbonizing heavy metals. The technology’s ability to process low-grade iron ore, coupled with its use of renewable energy sources, positions Element Zero as a promising player in the quest for sustainable and environmentally friendly metal production. The company, strategically located in Perth and the north of Western Australia near major iron ore ports, plans to develop five million tonnes per year of iron ore feed, resulting in approximately 2.7 million tonnes of high-purity iron.