Why NGP ETP Invested in Via Separations

In October 2021, NGP ETP led the $38 million Series B financing in Via Separations (“Via”).

In the US, roughly 15% of energy is consumed by industrial separation processes, roughly the same amount of energy as all the gasoline used for transportation.[1]

While there is a path to reducing transport emissions by switching from gas to electric (with batteries charged from renewable energy), the transition from low-efficiency thermal separation (using heat for evaporation, distillation, and drying) does not have a clearly defined decarbonization roadmap. Recent advancements in membrane technology may change this equation, as advancements with graphene oxide may provide a low-cost, high-performance, and scalable solution to industrial separations. Our recent investment in Via reflects these advancements, with immediate application to the paper and pulp market.

In paper, pulp, and chemical processing plants, it is common to apply thermal separation—evaporators and distillation columns that separate chemical compounds by boiling—which is energy intensive and inefficient, using 10x more energy than thermodynamically required.[2] Via has created a proprietary membrane aimed at radically reducing these industrial emissions.

Via’s membrane applies mechanical separation, rather than thermal separation (heat), to save energy and reduce industrial emissions.

Via uses a proprietary graphene-based membrane technology to transition energy-intensive thermal separations to a more efficient mechanical process—akin to using a strainer to drain the pasta pot rather than boiling off all the water. In the industrial context, Via’s membrane reduces the load on energy-intensive evaporators and distillers by as much as 90%, while reducing use of process chemicals, decreasing downtime, increasing throughput, and capturing previously lost valuable byproducts. As deployment scales, Via’s technology has the potential to make a significant dent in global emissions.

Via is deploying its membranes first in North American paper and pulp mills, where Via’s technology can enable efficient energy use and higher production with minimal changes to status quo operations.

Via’s stellar team is led by co-founder and CEO Shreya Dave, who holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. She has led the Via team to scale up the technology 10 million-fold and is now partnering with commercial customers for pilot deployments.

NGP is thrilled to be part of the journey as Via seeks to deliver meaningful emissions reductions in hard to abate industrial sectors.

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Learn more about Via Separations: https://viaseparations.com/

About NGP ETP

NGP ETP focuses on investments that are part of the global transition toward a lower carbon economy.  NGP ETP partners with top tier management teams and invests growth equity in companies that drive or enable the growth of renewable energy, the electrification of our economy or the efficient use of energy.  Founded in 2005, NGP ETP is one of the most experienced energy transition investors in the industry.

For additional information, visit www.ngpenergycapital.com/energy-transition or contact the NGP ETP energy transition team at inquiries@ngptrs.com.

[1] Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Materials for Separation Technologies: Energy and Emission Reduction Opportunities (2005).

[2] “Seven chemical separations to change the world” Nature (28 April 2016)