Donate to Science & Enterprise

S&E on Mastodon

S&E on LinkedIn

S&E on Flipboard

Please share Science & Enterprise

Seaweed Biomaterials Start-Up Gains $5M in Early Funds

Sargassum (brown algae seaweed)

Sargassum (James St. John, Flickr.

6 Apr. 2023. A new company creating biomaterials for agriculture and consumer products from large seaweed blooms is adding $5 million in its first venture funding round. Carbonwave, in Boston and Carolina, Puerto Rico, says its process recycles Sargassum, a seaweed species growing out of control from warming ocean temperatures and agricultural runoff.

Carbonwave is a three year-old enterprise developing bio-based materials from Sargassum, a species of brown algae seaweed that floats in communities like rafts on the ocean surface. As part of the ocean’s ecosystem, Sargassum provides food, refuge, and breeding grounds for fish, sea turtles, crabs, shrimp, and marine birds. While these communities eventually lose their buoyancy and sink to the ocean floor, the number and size of Sargassum rafts are increasing in recent years, with a particularly large mass now in the eastern Caribbean, some 5,000 miles long, stretching across the Atlantic Ocean almost to the west coast of Africa.

The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, as it’s called, is considered a threat to shipping and tourism in the Caribbean and Florida coasts. Carbonwave notes that once onshore, Sargassum accumulates on beaches and landfills, and as it decomposes, Sargassum releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.

Cold, non-chemical process

The company says its technology extracts complex bio-based polymers from Sargassum in a sustainable process that takes advantage of the plant’s ability to grow without land, irrigation, or additional nutrients. Carbonwave says it takes bio-polymers from Sargassum with cold, non-chemical methods, filtering out heavy metals, sodium, and other impurities.

Carbonwave is developing a line of fertilizers and performance boosters for agriculture that the company says will help crops better withstand heat waves, droughts, and other environmental stresses. Another Carbonwave product is a line of emulsifiers for cosmetics called SeaBalance that the company says can replace current cosmetic ingredients based on fossil fuels. Another Carbonwave product in earlier development is a plant-based fabric film made from structural bio-polymers that the company says is competitive in strength with leather, without adding polyurethane plastics for structural support.

Carbonwave is raising $5 million in its first venture round led by Mirova, a venture investor in Paris that finances companies with sustainable processes and beneficial environmental impacts. Last week, Mirova announced plans to expand its investments in the U.S. Joining the round are Viridios Capital, Popular Impact Fund, and Katapult Ocean. According to Crunchbase, Carbonwave’s first venture round totaling $5 million began in Mar. 2022., when the company was named C-Combinator. The company says its total funding comes to $12 million.

“Support from our investors and partners,” says Carbonwave co-founder and CEO Geoff Chapin in a company statement released through Cision, “has allowed us to catalyze our proprietary technology and manufacturing process to turn the Caribbean’s seaweed crisis into an economic opportunity and a climate solution. We are producing viable alternatives that redirect demand from fossil fuel-based products by cost-effectively developing a wide range of regenerative, low-carbon, and plant-based alternatives that global industries are seeking to advance their sustainability and decarbonization initiatives, while contributing to the bio-circular economy.”

More from Science & Enterprise:

We designed Science & Enterprise for busy readers including investors, researchers, entrepreneurs, and students. Except for a narrow cookies and privacy strip for first-time visitors, we have no pop-ups blocking the entire page, nor distracting animated GIF graphics. If you want to subscribe for daily email alerts, you can do that here, or find the link in the upper left-hand corner of the desktop page. The site is free, with no paywall. But, of course, donations are gratefully accepted.

*     *     *


1 comment to Seaweed Biomaterials Start-Up Gains $5M in Early Funds