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Energy venture fund backs a quest for cobalt

Cobalt ore
Cobalt extracted from ore is used in the lithium-ion batteries that power devices ranging from smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles. (National Institutes of Health Photo)

KoBold Metals’ quest to find new sources of cobalt, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, has received high-profile backing from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the $1 billion innovation fund spearheaded by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Andreessen Horowitz also joined in the Bay Area startup’s funding round, which was disclosed today. The amount of funding, however, went undisclosed.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures was created by Gates and a bevy of other billionaires — including Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Michael Bloomberg and Jack Ma — to make long-term investments in cutting-edge energy technologies. KoBold Metals uses artificial intelligence and “machine prospecting” techniques to search for likely locations of cobalt ore.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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