Impossible mining is breaking the seabed for battery metal TechCrunch

Impossible Mining CEO Oliver Gunasekara pulled me aside at last week’s TechCrunch Climate event with a compelling pitch. It turns out that there are a lot of precious metals on the ocean floor – materials like nickel and cobalt, which are key to addressing the growing demand for lithium ion batteries.

The San Jose Y Combinator graduate students believe they have developed a method to tap the ocean’s depths for multi-needle nodules without harming the fragile ecosystem in the process. It’s been a hot topic in recent years – for obvious reasons – including a statement from 622 marine science and policy experts calling for a halt to the practice.

The company’s chief sustainability officer, Renee Grogan, noted in a statement late last year,

The deep sea fishing industry should not be allowed to take a leave of absence to reflect the impact of terrestrial mining. For an industry that has not yet begun, this bar should be set higher. Instead of banning deep-sea mining, let’s challenge the industry: Get back to the drawing board – design it in a way that doesn’t cause serious harm. That’s what Impossible Mining is all about.

On its website, Impossible describes a process that uses bacterial respiration to “release” these metals from the rock. The technology is impressive enough to net the company a new $10.1 million, led by angel investor Justin Hamilton and a handful of other YC investors.

“The United States needs independent, secure access to critical battery metals,” Gunasekara said in a statement. “We are excited to accelerate our production of deepwater robots with this funding, and to demonstrate to both regulators and stakeholders that we can achieve what we do.” dredging technology cannot – protect the seabed environment.”

The funding will be for additional development (hence the very obvious rendering at the top of this post) and testing for the startup’s underwater robotic mining system.

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