SiTration in $11.8m raise to fund growth

Richard Roberts

Top image :
SiTration founders Jeffrey Grossman (front left) and Brendan Smith (front right) with the start-up’s growing team
‘Need for technology that addresses staggering shortage of critical metals is real’

A US start-up that has been working with Rio Tinto on the application of its patented silicon membrane technology for mineral recovery has raised US$11.8 million of seed capital with support from the venture capital arm of another mining major.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based SiTration’s oversubscribed funding round was led by European VC 2150, part of Denmark’s Urban Partners.

BHP Ventures, Extantia, Orion Industrial Ventures and early SiTration backers Azolla Ventures and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) affiliated E14 Fund also participated in the new round.

MIT alumnus Dr Brendan Smith, CEO and co-founder of SiTration, said the funds would largely support engineering work and team growth to build and deploy pilot and demonstration units at mine and metal refining sites.

“With the critical function of the technology being fully validated in multiple metals-recovery applications we have recently shifted focus to rapidly scaling up our systems and processes,” Smith told

“We are in the early stages of our commercialisation journey and are currently looking for customers to partner with us for joint development agreements and on-site pilot deployments.

“We plan to work closely with our partners, deploying our technology directly on existing mining and refining operations, and plan to share in the value generated by our technology.”

SiTration believes the use of its porous silicon membrane technology can reduce the cost of separating metals from fluid streams by up to 70% versus traditional hydrometallurgical processing, depending on target materials and stream compositions.

While it has been shown to be able to recover metals at kilogram-scale, there was “no fundamental limitation to what scale of metal recovery or production can be achieved using SiTration’s technology”, according to Smith.

“Techno-economic analyses indicate that the silicon membrane technology is capable of processing the full output of a large mining site using an amount of silicon equivalent to a mid-sized solar farm,” he said.

The technology developed at MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering is being used to recover minerals from wastewater under a paid pilot deal with Rio Tinto, and also in copper heap leach and lithium-ion battery recycling applications.

Smith said the total potential market for SiTration was large and complex, “but it is a very large opportunity considering we are targeting copper as well as PGMs and other precious metals”.

“The magnitude of the challenge presented by the need to bolster the critical materials supply chain is clear,” he said.

“There is a major missing link between the clean energy technologies we so desperately need and the sourcing of the materials that are at their core.

“Our solution can create a cleaner, more equitable, and more profitable critical materials supply chain across multiple industries, all with a single technology.”

MIT professor and SiTration co-founder Jeffrey Grossman said the durability and selection extraction performance of the company’s membrane technology was “unparalleled among existing solutions”.

The membrane was produced via “a streamlined, scalable and economic manufacturing process, allowing for its deployment in large-scale industrial applications”.

Spun out of MIT in 2020, the company previously raised $2.45 million of pre-seed funding and has received grants from the US Department of Energy’s ARPA-E and the National Science Foundation.

“The need for breakthrough technology that addresses the staggering shortage of critical metals the world is facing as we transition to a clean, electrified energy system is real,” said 2150 partner Jacob Bro.

“With SiTration, we believe we have found the most promising technology and an incredible team to take it to commercial scale in global mining and in the emerging battery recycling industry.”


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