Climate Tech: Nuada

From science fiction to decarbonisation

Scaling climate technology for positive global impact.

Our technology includes a climate tool that could help accelerate the transition to cleaner energy and ultimately help lower emissions in sectors where there aren't really any other substitutes.

Dr. Conor Hamil

Co-CEO, Nuada

Supporting businesses with climate tech

Nuada, formerly MOF Technologies, is a carbon capture company supporting businesses in hard-to-abate UK sectors in reducing their emissions through next generation climate technology.

The capture capacity of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which is at the heart of Nuada’s technology, has the power to separate and trap CO2 emitted in flue gas which is then ‘cleaned’ before being released back into the atmosphere – thereby helping reduce industrial emissions.

Dr Conor Hamil, CEO, Nuada, explains that, as recently as 2012, MOFs were “still a science fiction piece, reserved to research journals – and there were clear limitations to exploring the potential of these materials.”

However, in the decade since, the company has blazed a trail in producing such materials “in a cheaper, more environmentally responsible manner, developing technology that cuts energy demand for carbon capture by up to 80% providing a more economical solution.”

“We continue to build our technology portfolio, creating unique know-how around material selection and manufacturing formulation testing, and integrating these materials into process systems,” he adds.

Unique carbon capture technology

Rebranding as Nuada in 2023 – inspired by a mythical Irish king who healed himself with his ‘sword of air’ – the company operates with a clear vision in mind: ‘making zero emissions in industry a reality.’

Conor explains that, for Nuada to realise its purpose of helping highly polluting sectors reduce carbon emissions through efficient and cost-effective solutions, it had to shift its focus from “manufacturing the materials to designing and optimising the machines that actually extract their maximum potential.”

Today, its technology vacuums CO2 emissions out of the chimney stacks often used in polluting sectors. The vacuum filtering machine diverts CO2-rich flue gas from the stack into a filter. Once full, a vacuum is then applied, which sucks the CO2 out. Conor says: “Our system is unique in that it doesn’t require heat in the form of steam to perform the separation.” This capture technology provides industrial emitters with a more efficient and economical solution to decarbonise.

Helping sectors without energy substitutes

Supporting industries and sectors that lack viable energy substitutes is at the heart of Nuada’s strategy.

Sectors such as cement and steel, for example, have no viable alternatives to abating their CO2 emissions. Building efficient carbon-capture machines could be key to reducing – even eliminating – industrial emissions.

An effective net zero strategy requires a multi-faceted approach”, Conor explains. “Both carbon reduction and carbon capture strategies are required, further highlighting the scale of the challenge.

Dr. Conor Hamil

Co-CEO, Nuada

Industry challenges

For Nuada, scaling successfully to help a greater number of firms reduce their carbon will be no mean feat, Conor explains, adding: “A lot of infrastructure needs to be constructed to address the problem we face.”

However, he says that raising awareness of climate technology among polluting industries is key – and that “even one operational plant capturing all CO2 shows what can be done across the UK if this technology is deployed at scale.”

Other challenges of scaling climate technology will include competition from both the start-up world and the more established corporate space, Conor adds.

“In my experience climate technology is significantly capital-intensive and requires navigation through not just one but multiple valleys of death,” he says. “The availability of capital varies region to region – certain policy measures have catalysed capital in the US, whereas in the UK access to capital is somewhat a challenge. Capital is also needed to fund skills, so being based in the UK puts us on an uneven playing field versus some of our competitors.”

Collaborate for success

Conor suggests collaboration is the key to scaling technology amid competition between climate technology players vying for the best engineers and scientists. Our research supports this view, with 69% of cleantech and/or climate tech companies surveyed responding that they are finding it hard to source the talent they need to grow.

Businesses are under increasing pressure to balance long-term investments in energy transition with shareholder expectations. These once conservative industries are now having to innovate at breakneck speed; pressuring those in the field to supply new technologies that are perhaps too premature for the market. Moreover, partisan decisions at a global level – such as shifting net zero targets – can mount even more pressure on industries.

“Access to capital is the only way to fund technology risk in an environment of political uncertainty.” Conor says. Collaboration through our Eagle Labs, or financing available through Barclays’ solutions could help businesses realise the true potential of their technologies.

Future projects

With growing awareness of the impact of carbon emissions, and growing pressure on industries to act, Conor says a more collaborative approach to carbon reduction is already in action.

“We are now seeing a collaborative ecosystem,” he says, “whereby companies who were once competitors are grouping together to accelerate technologies for the greater good of their own industry.”

As an example, Nuada works with the Global Cement and Concrete Association to share lessons that explore the future possibilities of carbon capture.

The future certainly looks bright as a result. Nuada is now working with some of the top global cement companies based on market capitalisation. It is also building pilot plants, which will showcase Nuada’s energy-efficient filtration machines – in a bid to further build greater confidence among various stakeholders that climate tech will play a critical role in helping to decarbon these industries.

Nuada is also demonstrating the applicability of its technology in other areas, such as energy and waste. Our research found that over half of cleantech and/or climate tech companies surveyed are focused on technology growth through investment or financial support – most in the next three to five years.

Working with Barclays

In Barclays we have a partner who is there to try and bridge the gap in climate financing.

Dr. Conor Hamil

CEO, Nuada

Conor says that, along Nuada’s journey, Barclays has been an instrumental partner, not least through its Sustainable Impact Capital portfolio. The provision of early-stage capital in 2022 helped Nuada scale quickly, and “equitably navigate the valley of death – which is critical in the climate technology space,” Conor says.

“There is also a fundamental aspect of credibility that comes with Barclays,” he adds. “When we engage with stakeholders in industries looking to utilise our technology, our relationship with Barclays certainly helps in those discussions.”

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