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Milwaukee-based startup Advanced Ionics plans to use the $4.2 million it secured through its first funding round to launch several pilot projects in 2023. Part of the funding will help accelerate the company’s product development.
In late April, Advanced Ionics announced the close of its seed round, led by Boston-based Clean Energy Ventures. The company’s Symbiotic Electrolyzer Technology uses low-cost renewables or nuclear energy to produce green hydrogen for less that the current cost of fossil fuel-derived hydrogen.
From a young age, Chad Mason, founder and chief executive officer of Advanced Ionics, knew the importance of decarbonization. He grew up on a family farm in central North Dakota, where he first observed large energy usage.
“(Farming) is very energy intensive, and it’s one of the places where hydrogen is utilized,” Mason said. “There’s hydrogen in ammonia, which goes into fertilizer in the fields, and hydrogen was in fuels and the chemicals we used so even in the late ‘90s, at an early age, I already understood the need for sustainability in hydrogen.”
After pursuing a degree in engineering, Mason started working in electro-chemistry, particularly with hydrogen fuel cells.
In 2017, he came to the realization that no one seemed to be doing much in the way of decarbonization within industrial companies. That’s when he launched Advanced Ionics, later moving the company to Milwaukee in 2018 due in part to the Midwest Energy Research Consortium’s WERCBench Labs Accelerator.
Advanced Ionics is focused on tackling the decarbonization of heavy industry, one of the most carbon-intensive sectors, responsible for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Products including ammonia and other energy-intensive chemicals, steel and machinery, fuels and oils are all targets.
“When you look around the room, most of the things you see have had hydrogen used in their production,” Mason said.
Advanced Ionics also provides a sustainable, low-cost alternative amid the need to reduce reliance on natural gas for climate and geopolitical reasons.
Advanced Ionics’ Symbiotic Electrolyzer Technology reduces costs by integrating with industrial facilities and pre-existing industrial processes. Power-intensive alkaline and membrane-based electrolyzers require high electricity usage, typically above 50 kilowatt-hour per kilogram. Advanced Ionics’ electrolyzers work with on-site waste and process heat supplies, reducing up to 40% of the typical electricity requirement, the dominant cost driver of green hydrogen production.
Mason leads a team of 13 people at the Century City Tower at 4201 N. 27th St. on Milwaukee’s north side. He wants to triple the number of employees by the end of 2023. Another short-term goal is finding a larger manufacturing facility to serve the company’s North American and European markets.
Leadership: Chad Mason, founder and CEO Headquarters: 4201 N. 27th St., Milwaukee What it does: Manufacturer of industrial electrolyzers Founded: 2017 Employees: 13 Next Goal: Launch several pilot programs using electrolyzers in 2023 Funding: $4.2 million seed round, $20,000 grant from WERCBench Labs