Dealflow | June 13, 2023

VoLo Earth and Capricorn back Magrathea to make carbon-neutral metal from seawater

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, June, 13 – Lightweight magnesium is used in everything from laptops to bikes to EVs. San Francisco-based Magrathea has developed a method of producing magnesium from seawater via electrolysis that eliminates the need for mining.

The company’s novel process for turning magnesium salt into metal produces a byproduct that sequesters carbon, making the process carbon neutral, explained Joseph Goodman of VoLo Earth, which co-led the $10 million seed round with Capricorn Investment Group. Other participating investors included Valor Equity Partners, Necessary Ventures, carbon dioxide removal fund Counteract, EQT Foundation, Charm Industrial’s Peter Reinhardt and Open AI’s Sam Altman.

Launched last year by Alex Grant, a cofounder of Lilac Solutions, which extracts lithium from brine, and Jacob Brown, a former Tesla chemical engineer, Magrathea has produced magnesium at its small pilot plant. The seed funding will support a larger pilot project and demonstration plant to scale the technology, which could help replace hard-to-abate metals and ensure a domestic supply. Some 90% of magnesium metal is produced in Russia and China via a carbon-intensive mining and smelting process.

“We see lightweight materials and batteries as the yin and yang of the $10 trillion global transportation market,” VoLo’s Joseph Goodman told ImpactAlpha.

“There’s been a lot more focus on the batteries,” he said. “Lightweighting” EVs via materials like magnesium metal can reduce the battery power required, mitigating lithium-ion battery supply constraints and opening up opportunities for electric trucks and other large vehicles.