AlterBiota raises USD$2.9 million for biographene concrete additive

Canada-based AlterBiota has received CAD$4 million (over USD$2,925,000) in seed funding to increase hiring and upgrade its commercial-scale facility to make a concrete additive based on its biographene material.

AlterBiota's CEO, Mark Masotti, is a chemical engineer who researched graphene’s ability to decarbonize concrete while on parental leave in 2019. Fascinated by its application, he explored the idea in his basement lab and applied for a provisional patent, then developed the idea into a company. Having conducted tests on its biographene and establishing a pilot plant, Masotti plans to go further in more than doubling his company's staff and building a scale-up plant.


AlterBiota’s biographene is produced by taking the wood byproduct from sawmills and subjecting it to pyrolysis. Next, the wood residues are mixed in a water-based chemical solution for exfoliation. The end product is a liquid concrete additive that is 10% to 25% stronger than Portland cement at a fraction of the dose, Masotti said.

He emphasized the environmental friendliness of the company’s process, saying it uses renewable materials and excludes virgin wood, does not involve toxic chemicals or fossil fuels, and generates a carbon-negative product.

AlterBiota’s biographene aims to cut the amount of Portland cement needed to produce concrete, and encases carbon from the wood residue in concrete.

The biographene improves the quality of concrete compared to Portland cement, Massoti said. It also solves a supply gap for graphene. “We were not the first ones to put graphene into concrete, but it’s been struggling to get off the bench because graphene typically comes from mined graphite. It’s very expensive and it’s very high purity and hard to handle”. AlterBiota’s biographene can fill this demand as it is not super high purity graphene, but a “right-sized biographene material for the concrete that can scale and can have the use-cases necessary for the most consumed material on the planet - concrete,” he continued.

Massoti also argues biographene is better for a company’s bottom line. Using AlterBiota’s biographene costs less than a proportional amount of Portland cement, meaning a business can save money while decarbonizing.

alterBiota has a pilot plant in Edwardsville, N.S., where it is partnered with a nearby sawmill that is interested in providing the feedstock.

Massoti presented the company’s product at a pitch competition it did not win, but a member of Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) in the audience was interested enough to form a relationship that blossomed into its latest funding round. In an investment led by Invest Nova Scotia, with involvement from the BDC’s Climate Tech Fund and private investors, a total of CAD$4 million went to AlterBiota to build up its commercial-scale plant in Nova Scotia, conduct more industrial trials and hire 12 to 15 staff members to bolster its team of nine.

The scale-up plan will expand the pilot plant, with expectations for it to be ready by the summer of 2027 and vertically integrated on site. The first phase of production is planned to produce 2,200 tonnes per year of solid biographene that gets converted into a liquid one-to-one.

Posted: May 05,2024 by Roni Peleg