Osmoses Raises $3 Million in Pre-Seed Funding to Develop Membrane Technology to Separate Smallest and Most Valuable Gas Molecules to Eliminate Energy Waste and Reduce CO2 Emissions
The Engine-led funding will fuel Osmoses’ hiring and scaling of its materials platform for gas separations
Osmoses, the developer of a novel membrane technology for gas separations, today announced it has raised a $3 million pre-seed funding round, led by The Engine, the venture firm spun out of MIT that invests in early-stage Tough Tech companies. Fine Structure Ventures (FSV), a venture capital fund affiliated with FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments, also participated in the round, alongside Orbia Ventures, Little Green Bamboo, and notable individual investors, including Stuart Levinson and Adrian Pylypec. This capital will be used to fuel rapid growth through hiring talent, platform development and manufacturing. It will also support initial commercial partnerships, accelerating Osmoses’ mission to eliminate energy waste with efficient separation technology, reducing production costs and CO2 emissions.
Today, molecular separations represent 15% of global energy use and generate 16% of CO2 emissions annually. While gas separation processes are critical for the more than 13,000 chemical and power plants operating in the U.S., the traditional approaches to purify methane, hydrogen, and oxygen are not only a source of significant energy waste, but also very costly for production companies.
Osmoses has developed a membrane platform technology with unprecedented performance for a number of gas separation applications, which easily integrates with existing energy infrastructures. The materials platform solves the inherent tradeoff between permeability and selectivity in membrane technology, achieving the highest combination demonstrated to date of these two key parameters. Its novel 3D ladder membrane polymer is stable in industrial conditions and delivers up to 5x the selectivity and 100x the permeability, when compared with conventional membranes.
“There’s an increasing need for gas separation membranes and the global category will continue to surge in the coming years, representing a $10 billion and growing market opportunity overall,” said Francesco Maria Benedetti, co-founder and CEO of Osmoses. “We’ve developed and proven the viability of Osmoses’ materials platform to overcome traditional membrane challenges, to deliver membranes offering the most sustainable alternative to thermal processes. Our molecular filters can be manufactured at scale using established techniques, consume 40% to 60% less energy than commercial alternatives, and most importantly, deliver excellent separation.”
Osmoses’ patented materials platform can be applied across several gas and vapor separations. This invention addresses the rising demand for biogas and hydrogen, as well as the increasing need for CO2 removal, and provides a cost-effective, high-performance technology to support global energy transition to renewable sources. The platform can be used to increase sustainability of existing energy infrastructures such as natural gas, decarbonize new and existing industries in power generation and materials manufacturing, and enable carbon-free energy solutions like hydrogen, generating value regardless of how the energy market evolves in the future.
“Osmoses has the potential to fully decarbonize the hardest sectors of the economy – industrial material production along with load-following electricity applications using point-source carbon capture – which together account for upwards of 30% of U.S. CO2 emissions,” said Michael Kearney, Principal at The Engine. “Osmoses’ solution is not just critical for reduced emissions, but for maintaining domestic industry and job growth. Without such a cost-effective solution, these tasks could be exported to countries with less stringent emissions targets, which is not good for the U.S. and not good for our planet.”
“Francesco and his team have developed a technology that not only has the potential to revolutionize energy-intensive chemical separation, but also impact carbon-heavy industries globally,” said Sameer Bharadwaj, CEO of Orbia and MIT Deshpande Center Catalyst mentor to the Osmoses team. “Unquestionably, Osmoses is a singular example of a world-changing idea made real, emerging from MIT’s renowned innovation ecosystem.”
Osmoses was founded in 2021 by the technology’s inventors: MIT Postdoctoral Associate Francesco Benedetti, CEO and Stanford PhD Holden Lai, CTO. Benedetti and Lai developed and prototyped the membrane, collaborating with both Professor Yan Xia’s lab at Stanford Chemistry and co-founder and Professor Zachary Smith’s lab at MIT Chemical Engineering. Also among the co-founding team is Katherine Mizrahi Rodriguez, an MIT materials science and engineering PhD student who will join Osmoses in 2022 to oversee operations.
“The technology is proven in the lab, and we are excited to take it to the next stage of testing at scale through collaboration with manufacturers and industrial partners,” said Holden Lai, co-founder and CTO. “Delivered through modular units, the platform is an easy transition with existing infrastructure and will accelerate, streamline, and improve margins for commercial pursuit of natural and bio- gas upgrading, carbon capture powered by oxy-fuel combustion, and hydrogen recovery opportunities.”
“We are excited about the syndicate that we brought together in this pre-seed round, because each of the firms and angels bring something to the team that goes beyond the investment itself,” Benedetti added. “They share our vision and care about our mission as much as we do, complementing our team with industry, business, and sales experience.”
Previous funding for Osmoses was provided by grants and awards, including: NSF Innovation Corps, MIT’s Sandbox Innovation Fund, MIT Deshpande Center, and the Grand Prize at the MIT $100K Launch Competition. Osmoses’ founders Benedetti and Lai were named Activate fellows. In September, Osmoses won the Northeast Regional and Carbon Sequestration Prizes at the Cleantech Open Accelerator.
Osmoses is hiring technical positions including chemists, chemical and field engineers, and will expand its team with operations hires as well.
Osmoses is developing and scaling a novel membrane technology for industrial gas separations. Founded in 2021 and spun out of MIT, the company is delivering a membrane platform technology with unprecedented performance for a number of gas separation applications to help eliminate the energy waste of industrial separation processes and lower CO2 emissions. Find Osmoses online: https://osmoses.com/