Boston Metal — a Startup Backed by Bill Gates — Raises Another $50 Million in Bid to Disrupt Steel Industry

By Jemima McEvoy Monday, January 11, 2021

Global metal solutions startup Boston Metal is gaining momentum. The company, which pulled in around $20 million in backing in 2019, just raised around $50 million in a financing round that’s expected to reach as high as $60 million, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings first reported by TechCrunch.

Among its list of star-studded investors are MIT-backed investment firm The Engine, Prelude Ventures, and the Bill Gates-financed Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which all invested in Boston Metal’s business during its initial fundraising bout — and then came back again for a second round. This most recent round also brought in a notable new face: Devonshire Investors, a private investment company affiliated with Fidelity’s parent company.

So, what’s so special about this startup that’s brought in all this money and the attention of Microsoft’s co-founder?

Metal Business Disruptor

Boston Metal has a strong vision to disrupt a business industry that’s remained practically unchanged since the Iron Age (1200 BCE). According to Crunchbase, the Massachusetts-based startup was spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012 by co-founders Antoine Allanore, Donald Sadoway, and Jim Yurko. The goal was simple (at least in theory): decarbonize the metal industry.

Unbeknownst to most people, the production of steel is actually a significant contributor to climate change. A study from McKinsey in 2018 found that every ton of steel produced that year emitted on average 1.85 tons of carbon dioxide. This equates to around 8% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions during 2018. As an industry so integral to the global economy, steel production has been largely resistant to change or modernization — that is until today.

Boston Metal is a company developing what could be revolutionary technology that could produce metal without the harmful carbon dioxide emissions that McKinsey estimates could put at risk around 14% of its potential value if environmental impact continues to go ignored.

The company’s CEO Tadeu Carneiro told TechCrunch in an interview that it is nearly ready to commercialize its pilot program, which has been used to produce metal alloys for over a month at a time. After that, the technology — which is highly scalable, per Carneiro — will be used to tackle the company’s larger goals.

“Molten oxide electrolysis is a platform technology that can produce a wide array of metals and alloys, but our first industrial deployments will target the ferroalloys on the path to our ultimate goal of steel,” said Carneiro in a statement in 2019. “Steel is and will remain one of the staples of modern society, but the production of steel today produces over two gigatons of CO2. The same fundamental method for producing steel has been used for millennia, but Boston Metal is breaking that paradigm by replacing coal with electrons.”

About the Author

Headshot for author Jemima McEvoy

Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.

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