Sonichem team

East Midlands based cleantech startup set for expansion via seven-figure funding round

Sonichem, an East Midlands based startup that converts low-value forestry by-products into high-value, renewable biochemicals, has secured £1.2m in Pre-Series A funding including a follow-on investment by ACF Investors. 

The investment will be used to further develop its technology and finalise plans for a biorefinery plant, the first of its kind.  Petrochemicals have been an essential part of numerous industries for more than 50 years, from construction to life sciences and cosmetics. 

However, this reliance comes at a heavy cost. The UK’s petrochemical industry alone contributes approximately 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 a year. Environmental pressures demand a shift towards sustainable chemicals sourced from natural resources and to reduce the collective reliance on fossil-derived chemicals (from gas and oil). 

Only 55 per cent of logs that enter a sawmill become usable construction timber. The other 45 per cent end up as low-value by-products such as wood chips and sawdust. 

Sonichem breaks down this feedstock through its novel patent process, combining chemistry and ultrasound technology, into three main constituent natural bio-based chemicals: sugars, cellulose and lignin. For every £1 of sawdust, Sonichem’s technology can create £8 worth of bio-based sustainable chemicals.

The sustainable bio-based chemicals produced through Sonichem’s innovative process are poised to replace toxic petrochemicals that are harmful to people and the environment, across various sectors such as materials (resins, composite plastics, films), cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. 

The bio-based chemicals not only protect people and the environment but also contribute to the decarbonisation of the chemical industry. 

Sonichem was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry’s ‘Best enabling technology’ prize in 2021 and is currently leading a consortium which was awarded £600k from Innovate UK, to accelerate the development of its ultrasound technology to create sustainable materials for the automotive sector. 

This latest investment will be used to accelerate the development of its technology, continue research, and IP generation as well as finalise the design and location of a first-of-its-kind commercial biorefinery plant. 

Adrian Black, CEO of Sonichem, commented: “Now we’ve completed the first phase of our Pre-series A round, we’re looking to enter our next stage of commercial development as we look to scale our offerings and build towards finalising our Pre-series A round and raising our Series A to support the development of our biorefinery plant in the North of the UK.”

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