Sun Cable co-founder's new carbon capture venture Fugu secures $1.7m in seed round

Sun Cable co-founder's new carbon capture venture Fugu secures $1.7m in seed round

Fugu founders Mac Thompson (left) and Dr Luke Marshall (right).

Fugu, a startup that produces renewable fuels and gases through carbon dioxide air capture at scale, has announced the successful close of a $1.67 million seed round to scale up production of units for sale to its first customer in Sydney.

Fugu's founders Mac Thompson and Dr Luke Marshall were instrumental in the development of solar plant project Sun Cable as its co-founder and first employee respectively, and now they are embarking on a new clean energy mission.

Thompson and Marshall expect to crack the low-cost carbon dioxide market as they prepare for full-scale production of their air capture technologies by 2025, backed by the latest funding round led by Australian venture capital firm Investible, alongside the likes of other local investors Jelix and Electrifi Ventures.

London-based, carbon removal-focused VC Counteract accounted for the largest share of funds in the round.

The team is expanding and aims to grow quickly from its Glebe-based R&D facility, with plans to build thousands of machines that will suck millions of tonnes of CO2 by the end of the decade. 

The plan is to produce 2,000 shipping container sized machines per annum from each manufacturing facility located in all the globe’s major carbon dioxide markets, eventually extracting a gigatonne (1 billion metric tonnes) annually by 2032.

"We are thrilled to support Fugu on their journey to develop mass-manufacturable artificial lungs for the planet," says Investible investment manager Ben Lindsay.

"Led by a proven team of bold and capable founders, Fugu is creating cost-effective and energy-efficient solid direct air capture (S-DAC) systems.

"These systems are designed for rapid deployment, leveraging existing supply chains to serve a variety of industries, including green fuels, food and beverage, and more."

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts that despite widespread adoption of solar and wind power, we will struggle to prevent climate change without directly fixing the problem through geo-engineering solutions. 

"This challenge is extremely difficult. To hit our climate targets, we will now need to plant approximately three new Amazon rainforests by 2050, on top of decarbonising industry and society - that will be incredibly hard to do in such a short timeframe," says Dr Marshall.

"We need new technologies that can accomplish this task at a fraction of the cost and difficulty. Furthermore, some industries will never be completely decarbonised so we must provide a green low cost solution for them. Many companies are trying to do this now but their technology is often difficult to implement in the real world due to cost, deployability or manufacturing limitations."

Thompson and Marshall are applying lessons learned building the world’s biggest solar farm to this new carbon-sucking mission. Fugu’s machines are made of mass-manufactured parts, making them highly scalable and deployable for projects anywhere in the world.

Most importantly they can bring the cost of carbon from the atmosphere down to the point that green CO2 becomes cost competitive with fossil derived energy. The filters utilise a solid sorbent technology that is interchangeable as more advanced sorbents are developed and become available. 

"CO2 is an enormous market. Thousands of companies around the world use it in its pure form to make chemicals, beverages and pharmaceuticals," says Thompson.

"There are many others who want to stick it deep underground, where it will turn into rock to be permanently removed from the atmosphere. And big global players like Airbus are investing heavily in turning it into sustainable fuels for jets and global shipping. Fugu is gearing up to be the key supplier of clean CO2 from the atmosphere for these offtakers."

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