Kentucky-based AppHarvest garnered celebrity backers and an impressive list of investors before going public via SPAC in early 2021. The AgTech startup has a big vision to change the way we feed the country…so it is only fitting that one of its former executives would go off and launch an equally ambitious venture looking to decarbonize our world.
Seth Norat, who served as AppHarvest’s Chief Development Officer and Chief Operating Officer, just announced the launch of Valiidun, a CleanTech startup focused on lowering the per-ton cost of decarbonizing large facilities.
“Direct air carbon capture technology has reached the point that it’s proven and ready to be scaled. As recognized by the likes of Morgan Stanley, McKinsey & Co., and the federal government, direct air carbon capture is an immediate solution to our dire climate-change problems that are becoming more and more evident every day,” Norat told Hypepotamus.
The process is about removing carbon dioxide from industrial settings. The team describes the process as a “sophisticated, machinery-based tree” designed to extract carbon dioxide from the air and ultimately store it underground or in various household products.
Valiidun borrows its name from two Norse mythological creatures, which Norat said is fitting for a startup hoping to shift the scales in terms of climate catastrophe. “[The name] represents the goal of the company of emerging from the darkness of today’s environmental problems with a new beginning. Carbon capture technology is ready to help us not only address today’s worsening climate situation but also eventually roll back the damage done to the planet.”
Valiidun seems to be building on the shoulders of giants in many ways. The startup is part of a budding CleanTech and environmentally-focused sector in the Southeast region of the United States which has garnered significant investment over the last two years.
There are over 700 CleanTech startups in the Southeast, according to available Crunchbase data. Significant recent funding rounds have gone to North Carolina-based FlexGen and Atlanta-based Covetool.
AppHarvest, which was valued at over $1 billion when it went public, has played a big part in moving the region’s sustainability tech movement forward.
“In 3 years at AppHarvest, we developed four facilities costing more than $400 million including a 2.76-million-square-foot indoor farm that is among the world’s 20 largest buildings, and we did it during the onset of the pandemic,” Norat added in a statement. “With proven carbon-capture technologies and experienced technology partners, it’s time to build big and build fast to prevent further damage to our planet and, over time, begin to even roll back what’s been done.”
At the time of launch, Valiidun closed an angel round (amount undisclosed) and has been backed by “founders of unicorn companies” that have successfully raised $1.5 billion in capital previously.
Valiidun sees a big opportunity to bring carbon capture technology to the Southeast. There are currently 20 sites globally doing similar work, but only two in the United States.
But that is about the change. The bi-partisan Infrastructure Bill passed in 2021 allocates $3.5 billion to build four direct-air capture hubs across the country. The team said they are working to secure one of those locations in the Appalachia region, which is searching for ways to move beyond its economic dependence on coal mining.