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Exclusive: DexMat raising $10M to weave fiber from methane

Bryan Guido Hassin, CEO of startup DexMat, holds a roll of his company's woven carbon material.

CEO Bryan Guido Hassin holds a roll of his company's woven carbon material. A length of copper sits on the table to his right for comparison, next to a similar cord of DexMat's product. Photo: Alan Neuhauser/Axios

DexMat is raising a $10 million Series A to expand its production of high-performance fibers made from captured methane gas.

Why it matters: Manufacturing the lightweight material generates a fraction of the emissions of conventional carbon fiber or steel.

Zoom in: DexMat is making a soft, woven material to replace carbon fiber and steel.

  • It's conductive, so it can replace conventional copper or aluminum to expand the capacity of power lines and other electrical wiring. It also has defense applications, from anti-drone devices to body armor.

The latest: DexMat is in the diligence process with 15 potential investors, CEO Bryan Guido Hassin tells Axios.

  • He expects to close the round this quarter. DexMat last year raised a $3 million seed round led by Shell Ventures.

State of play: DexMat spun out of Rice University with grants from the U.S. Department of Defense.

  • The Air Force has been DexMat's biggest customer, but the startup has also expanded to the energy sector.
  • The Houston-based company has received two grants from the U.S. Energy Department. It's a finalist for a third through the agency's competitive ARPA-E program.

DexMat is also working with Prysmian Group and TS Conductor, which make conductive cables for transmission lines.

How it works: The company relies on pyrolysis, or intense heat, to split the carbon and hydrogen molecules in methane. The carbon is then turned into tiny nanotubes.

  • DexMat uses "wet-spinning," a process also used to make Kevlar, to turn the nanotubes into a material it's named Galvorn.

The intrigue: DexMat believes it can compete on cost with high-end grades of carbon fiber and steel within four years.

What's next: The startup plans to ramp annual production from a half-ton to about 30 tons in the next 12-18 months, likely while it remains at Shell's Technology Center in Houston.

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