Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Methane-to-crypto-mining startup nabs $4.3M

Aug 9, 2022
Illustration of a dollar bill clogging a smokestack.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Vespene Energy, a Berkeley-based energy-generation startup that wants to convert methane emissions to electricity for bitcoin mining, raised $4.3 million in an all-equity seed round, the company tells Axios.

Why it matters: Vespene's climate initiatives have given it a fundraising edge in an otherwise soft crypto financing market.

Details: Crypto VC Polychain Capital led the round, which will finance Vespene's initial pilot location in central California. It will aim to produce 1.5 MW of electricity from captured and burned methane on-site from a municipal landfill.

How it works: Vespene owns and operates microturbines on landfills in a process it says is a more efficient capture of methane emissions.

  • It sequesters methane and burns it to power the microturbines, which in turn generate electricity.
  • The electricity is used to power bitcoin mining operations. The profits generated from mining are then split between Vespene and the municipality that owns the landfill.

The intrigue: Crypto mining is very energy-intensive, making it a target of environmentalists.

  • Vespene CEO Adam Wright says Vespene is more closely connected to energy markets than crypto, which helped when it came to fundraising.

Yes, but: Vespene is still burning methane on its way to producing electricity. Though it is using what is currently a waste gas, there are still emissions associated with the technology.

Go deeper