French startup Fairmat closed a $35 million Series A funding round (€34 million) last month. It wants to turn carbon fiber composite that is no longer in use into a new material that can be used in new products.
Temasek and CNP (Compagnie Nationale à Portefeuille) are leading the round, with Pictet Group, Singular, the Friedkin Group International and others also participating. Overall, the company has raised $45.5 million (€44 million) since its inception.
The idea behind Fairmat is quite simple. Some high-tech materials like carbon fiber composites have great properties. These materials are light, flexible and resistant. That’s why you can find carbon fiber composites in wind turbines or aircrafts.
When these industrial projects reach the end-of-life status, Fairmat comes in and picks up those elements with carbon fiber composites. The startup then creates a new kind of material that isn’t as sophisticated as carbon fiber composites but that can be quite useful.
You won’t find Fairmat material in wind turbines, but you may buy objects that you use in your everyday life that are made with this new kind of material. This material is called Fairmat Quest and it could be 10 times less expensive than new composites and twice as light as aluminum.
And the company has made some great progress since my first article on Fairmat. It has signed partnerships with 15 industrial companies to collect their carbon fiber waste, including Hexcel, Tarmac Aerosave, Siemens Gamesa, Dassault Aviation and MerConcept. It’s a highly concentrated market, as those 15 companies represent more than 35% of carbon fiber composite waste in Europe.
On the other end of the market, some manufacturing companies are already working on prototypes with Fairmat’s new material. While the startup can’t disclose the names behind its 30 contracts, you will soon find sporting goods, audio products and furniture made with Fairmat Quest.
With today’s funding round, the company plans to progressively improve the processing capacity of its automated sorting plant. Eventually, 100 robots will handle up to 3,500 metric tons of scrap per year.
In 2023, Fairmat also plans to expand to the U.S. There are currently 80 people working for the company. By 2025, Fairmat hopes that it will work with 400 people.
Repurposed materials have a much lower carbon footprint than virgin material, and that’s the main reason why Fairmat will easily find customers in the coming years. As soon as carbon accounting rules become widespread, manufacturers will be looking at new materials like Fairmat Quest to lower the overall impact of their production.