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Green Energy Chemical Company Starts-Up, Raises $15M

Pieces of iridium

Iridium (, Wikimedia Commons.

9 Feb. 2023. A new enterprise, spun-off from labs at Northwestern University, says it’s designing electrochemical processes and systems for nanoscale materials to help meet the climate crisis. Mattiq, in Skokie, Illinois, is also raising $15 million in seed funds, from Material Impact, a venture investor in materials science start-up companies.

Mattiq says it uses advanced computational techniques, including artificial intelligence, to design and synthesize new chemicals that substitute for scarce materials needed to convert from fossil fuels to sustainable electric power. The company says it’s designing customized catalytic chemicals with electrochemical processes for producing chemicals and fuels with little or no carbon. Mattiq say it also plans to offer new production processes for chemical companies to decarbonize their operations, including reactor systems that replace conventional thermal reactors using high heat to convert raw materials into chemicals.

The company says its systems can design a substitute for iridium, a rare material used as a catalyst in proton exchange membrane electrolyzers needed to sustainably separate hydrogen from water. Today, according to Live Science, iridium is recovered as a byproduct from copper and nickel mining, in only a few places in the world, including suspect locations such as Russia and Myanmar. A practical and available iridium substitute, says Hydrogen Tech World, can make hydrogen production more feasible for entire industries, speeding achievement of a decarbonized economy. In addition, says Mattiq, its processes can encourage circular economy solutions, where products like plastics and fuels can be made from renewable feedstocks and green energy.

Wealth of data for training company algorithms

The company says by next year, it plans to have analyzed and synthesized some one trillion chemical combinations for materials used in real-world industrial systems. This large-scale design and synthesis of new materials, says Mattiq, will also produce a wealth of data for continual training of its A.I. algorithms used for design of new materials.

Mattiq, which began this year, is commercializing research conducted at Northwestern University’s International Institute for Nanotechnology, founded and led by chemistry, engineering, and materials science professor Chad Mirkin. The institute studies development of new nanoscale materials for energy, the environment, and medicine. In Feb. 2019, Science & Enterprise reported on Mirkin and colleagues using high-throughput screening techniques, with machine learning algorithms, to design synthetic nucleic acids, similar to DNA, but arrayed around a spherical core. The aim of the project is to make synthetic nucleic acids more feasible and easier to produce as drugs.

Mattiq is raising $15 million seed funds from Material Impact, a venture investor in Boston that backs early-stage companies designing new materials, particularly those with sustainable processes, as well as advanced systems supporting these processes.

“From the stone age to the silicon era,” says Mirkin in a Mattiq statement released through BusinessWire, “materials discovery has been slow, unpredictable, and constrained by the performance of available materials. Mattiq is disrupting this status quo, resulting in discoveries that enable new technologies at a pace not previously imaginable.” Mirkin is a co-founder of the company and serves as a director. “Solutions to the materials bottleneck,” adds Mattiq CEO Jeff Erhardt, “must meet skyrocketing demand while also reducing the ‘green premium’ so that climate technologies can be scaled in commercially viable ways”

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