Venture capital fund invests in Sortera Alloys

Sortera Alloys has developed technology to sort nonferrous metals.

October 13, 2020

Chrysalix Venture Capital, a global venture capital fund headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, says it has invested in Sortera Alloys, which it describes as “developers of an intelligent sorting system for the upcycling of nonferrous scrap metal, including aluminum, copper, zinc and brass.” The Fort Wayne, Indiana, company’s system enables high-throughput sorting by metal type and alloy composition through a combination of X-ray fluorescence and optical sensor fusion, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning image processing and an advanced scrap feeder design. Sortera is a spin-out from the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) project, which seeks to advance high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment.

“Chrysalix is making the circularity of metals a major theme of our new fund,” says Alfred Lam, a partner at Chrysalix Venture Capital. “Primary aluminum production accounts for 1 percent of global GHGs (greenhouse gases), and to achieve the forecasted global demand and climate change targets, the industry must deliver significant decarbonization, Sortera’s sorting systems enable the recyclability of aluminum for high-value end products, thereby saving up to 95 percent of the energy and GHGs as compared to primary production.”

“After the successful demonstration of our patented high-throughput AI sorting technology under the DOE (Department of Energy) ARPA-E Metals project, there has been a lot of interest from the investment community to implement this technology at commercial scale,” says Nalin Kumar, CEO of Sortera. “We chose to work with Chrysalix because of their track record for long-term commitment to global sustainability efforts. In addition to the infusion of funding from Chrysalix to develop and demonstrate the first industrial-scale metal recycling facility, their international partners will enable us to expand the impact of our technology at a global scale.”

“ARPA-E’s Metals program challenges teams to find cost-effective and energy-efficient manufacturing techniques to process and recycle metals,” ARPA-E Metals Program Director David Tew says. “We’re excited to see how the Metals team from Sortera will continue to develop their innovative technology with this investment by working to increase the quality of recycled metals to make them more cost-competitive for a range of manufacturing purposes.”

During this R&D program, Sortera partnered with Fort Wayne-headquartered OmniSource, one of North America’s largest processors and distributors of automotive scrap and secondary metals, and plans to deploy a fully integrated 100-million-pounds-per-year demonstration system at a facility in Fort Wayne. Furthermore, Eriez, based in Erie, Pennsylvania, will build equipment for facilities to provide low cast metal alloys as feedstocks to local industries all over the world.

The Chrysalix RoboValley Fund invests in intelligent systems enabled by AI, internet of things and sensor technologies to achieve significant improvements in productivity and critical business processes. Investors in the fund include Fortune 500 companies, leading corporates, financial institutions, family offices and universities and a notable cluster of metals producers, such as South32, Severstal and Mitsubishi Corp.