Carbon capture is one of the most investigated strategies for achieving carbon neutrality and tackling climate change. Thus, the innovation of ZoraMat Solutions offers new opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, Zoralite enables purification of gas streams and improves gas stream energy efficiency. Since CO2 feedstock supply and greenhouse gas reduction are part of the current ISC3 focus topic “Sustainable Chemistry and Renewable Energies”, ZoraMat Solutions has been chosen as ISC3 Start-up for the month for February 2021.
Year of Foundation: 2017
Addresses the following SDGs: SDG 13 (climate action)
From Ph.D. lab to market
The start-up ZoraMat Solutions was founded at the University of Calgary, where Ph.D. research on metal organic framework materials and carbon capture brought together the current start-up team - Roger Mah (CEO), Jared Taylor (CTO) and George Shimizu (CSO). During his industrial postdoc in Calgary, Roger was supporting other start-ups to commercialize their innovations, which inspired him to do so on his own, when the possibility of introducing Zoralite to the market arose. At that time, Jared Taylor developed a scale-up for the manufacture of new chemicals in George Shimizu's research group that allowed bringing Zoralite from academic lab to the market. So, Roger, Jared and George decided to form ZoraMat Solutions. Since then, they have been running the start-up with a grant from the provincial government in Alberta. Decisive to the decision to found ZoraMat was, among other reasons, Roger’s experience at Fort McMurray Oil Sands in Alberta, where he worked as part of his cooperative undergraduate degree in chemistry. There, he learned about the efforts of the industry towards a greener and cleaner production, but he was also able to perceive yet unidentified gaps and untapped potentials. What always accompanied Roger all throughout his entrepreneurial journey and made him pursue an advanced degree in chemistry at the University of Calgary while focusing on the environmental field, and specifically carbon capture, was what his mom used to say, "Leave it better than you found it!" And this has been his mission ever since.
Combating climate change via molecular sponge
What is the uniqueness of Zoralite? ZoraMat Solutions use the "sponge" analogy to explain the properties of Zoralite. "If you have dirty dishes, you're going to clean them by removing the grime. If you have a gas mixture with a lot of CO2 in it, we can clean it by filtering out and binding the CO2," Roger explains. Zoralite belongs to the class of metal organic framework materials that are microporous materials with the ability to absorb, hold and release molecules from their pores. The advantage of Zoralite is that it does not interact with water in the same way as it does with CO2, which makes it possible to capture CO2 from wet gas streams in the presence of water vapor as well as opposed to only dry gases, and then release CO2 again by applying heat or setting vacuum conditions. On one hand, through gas stream separation, energy efficiency of the target gas is improved. And on the other hand, capturing CO2 prevents the release of polluting emissions into the atmosphere. Via this innovative material, captured CO2 can be reused through a utilization technology or also sequestrated. In this way, ZoraMat Solutions, as the origin of the start-up's name says (from Japanese “sora” - sky, in Arabic and Slavic, “zora” means new dawn or aurora), brings with their innovation “a new dawn towards a clear blue sky”. ZoraMat Solutions is currently focusing on a smaller scale deployment of Zoralite in gas purification systems to produce biogas or renewable natural gas, as well as hydrogen, for example.
Next up at ZoraMat Solutions
ZoraMat Solutions plans to further collaborate with small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe and North America, where they have found optimal conditions regarding regulatory framework and partner-finding in order to test and prove the deployment of their innovation. Later on, they are also aiming at expanding to further markets. With their innovation, ZoraMat Solutions are actively contributing to SDG 13, climate action, but also consider other SDGs in their production processes, such as water-reuse from chemical reactions. ZoraMat Solutions was onboarded to the ISC3 GSS in 2020.