Startup Aiming to Decarbonize Construction Lands $1.8 Million

  • A climate technology startup developing carbon-sequestering building materials just raised $1.8 million.
  • The German company EcoLocked aims to lock in more than 500 megatons of carbon per year.
  • We got an exclusive look at the 11 slides used to raise new capital.

A climate technology startup developing building materials using biochar, a charcoal-like form of carbon dioxide sequestration, has just raised €1.8 million ($1.8 million) in its first funding round.

Berlin-based EcoLocked, founded in 2021, is formulating concrete and biochar mixtures for construction to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

Wastes such as wood, food and agricultural residues contain carbon, which is released into the atmosphere as it decomposes. To make biochar, the waste goes through a process called pyrolysis, in which it is heated to high temperatures. The carbon stored in it is compressed into a solid, charcoal-like form, co-founder and CEO Mario Schmitt told Insider.

“This stabilizes the carbon for about 1,000 years,” he said. The former BCG environmental consultant added that by storing biochar in concrete, buildings and infrastructure become carbon sinks and replace part of the main emissions driver, cement.

buildings and buildings 39% of 2018 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency. Steel, cement, glass and other building materials manufacturing accounted for 11%.

EcoLocked will sell biochar-based admixtures to construction companies, which will then be mixed into concrete. It’s designed to fit into existing manufacturing processes, which is critical to helping decarbonize the industry and scale companies, Schmidt said.

Depending on the end use of the material, different formulations are required, the co-founders said. For example, the type of waste used to make biochar can affect its performance when mixed with concrete. For example, concrete paving stones require different strength and durability properties than buildings. EcoLocked currently focuses on non-structural uses such as paving stones and pipes, but hopes to serve the entire concrete market one day.

Using biochar as a blend could improve the insulation and durability of the final material, Schmidt said. He added that changing building materials was the “primary route” to decarbonisation due to improvements in energy efficiency.

The company uses biochar produced by others, rather than producing it itself. “We can only solve the climate crisis if we all work together effectively,” Schmidt said.

“It means everyone is doing what they do best — if we’re not the best at producing biochar, but we’re the best at developing materials, that’s an effective value chain.”

The round was led by Counteract, a company focused on carbon removal, with participation from German company SFO, formerly Startup Family Office, Angel syndicate Better Ventures and other angels. It will be used to grow the team from seven to 10 by the end of this year, deliver the company’s first pilot project, and bring its first product to market in 2023.

In the long term, EcoLocked sees itself developing formulations for other building materials and concrete. It aims to lock in more than 500 megatons of carbon annually with its mixture.

Check out the 11-slide Edit Pitch Deck below.

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