Electric vehicle (EV) adoption is growing, which is increasing the demand for electric batteries and all the metals they contain. Because calls for decarbonization are at least partly driving this transition, some observers wonder if companies are sourcing battery materials sustainably and what will happen to these useful metals at the end of their life cycles.

Supply chain traceability and CO2 tracking technology provider Circulor tracks “the flow of raw materials through supply chains from source to end product” and then attaches the appropriate amount of scope 1 and scope 2 emissions (direct emissions) to those materials, Circulor CEO Douglas Johnson-Poensgen told FreightWaves. This allows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to see the embedded carbon emissions coming from suppliers for each part of a product such as an EV battery, he said. 

The London-based company closed a $14 million Series A funding round Thursday. Circulor said it is planning to use the funds from the “significantly oversubscribed” round to invest in expansions in North America and Asia.

“Net-zero is impossible if companies cannot measure and start to manage the embedded carbon in the products they buy and consume. Traceability is an essential enabler of decarbonization. The circular economy also needs data on the state and location of assets that could be reused or recycled, including aggregating the additional energy invested in the reuse/recycling,” Johnson-Poensgen said.

Circulor’s enterprise software platform combines blockchain technology, business logic and machine learning to track supply chain data. According to Circulor, it assigns a digital identity to each commodity, making it possible to track the carbon footprint throughout production, recycling and end of life.

“We are on a mission to make the world’s most complex industrial supply chains more transparent, and help prevent the exploitation of people and our planet. Traceability-as-a-Service is fast becoming a requirement for the world’s leading brands and this funding will help us accelerate our impact and revenue growth,” Johnson-Poensgen said in a statement.

The Series A round was led by The Westly Group and included participation from:

Salesforce Ventures
BHP Ventures
Sky Ocean Ventures
Future Positive Capital

Existing investors include: 

Volvo Cars
Jaguar Land Rover
Plug and Play
BHP Ventures

Winning over the EV industry

Circulor is the only company with proven technology to help automotive manufacturers and suppliers track EV materials such as cobalt, nickel, plastics and lithium, according to the company. The company is also involved in efforts to remanufacture automotive parts, driving the industry closer to a circular economy.

“Month-on-month, the embedded carbon in the same battery will be different because different suppliers in the midstream were involved. While a life cycle assessment is static, our approach provides a tool that enables OEMs to understand the fluctuations and so use buying as a tool for reducing the embedded carbon in the products they buy,” Johnson-Poensgen said.

Volvo Cars invested in Circulor to trace 100% of the cobalt used in batteries of the company’s first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge P8. The two companies are discussing expanding the supply chain technology cooperation to include carbon emission tracking and reductions.

Volvo XC40 Recharge battery package (Photo: Volvo Cars)

“We are committed to an ethical supply chain for our raw materials, and our partnership with Circulor has been instrumental in that regard,”’ Martina Buchhauser, chief procurement officer at Volvo Cars, said in the release. “By supporting Circulor’s ongoing development we can expand the use of blockchain technology in our operations and contribute to a more sustainable business.”

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Alyssa Sporrer.

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