Leo DiCaprio Backs $2.45M Biomass Venture: BioBlack TX

Produced by Natural Coating the technology could dramatically decarbonise the clothing industry.

Tue 15 Aug 23


Hollywood A-Lister Leonardo DiCaprio is among investors in a start-up using FSC-certified woody biomass to produce a carbon-negative alternative to petroleum-based carbon black.

Natural dye specialist Jane Palmer founded the Biochemical company Natural Coating with its flagship product, BioBlack TX, already counting Kering and Levi’s as customers.

Fashion label Vollek is also a customer, with Wood Central covering the release of a new t-shirt range in February.

Carbon Black is a widely used dye for black colouring in textile products, which a carbon-negative alternative can now replace. 

Footage courtesy of @continentalcarbon1984.

Hazardous synthetic dyes heavily pollute the water systems outside of garment production facilities worldwide,

Working in the pigment and dyes industry for over 20 years, Ms Palmer, founder and CEO, has witnessed its negative impact on our environment and health. 

“This inspired me to find a way to develop something better, something safe enough to be buried in my vegetable garden,” she said.

“At Nature Coatings, our vision is to create a future where the chemical industry operates in harmony with nature, and this new investment will take us closer to our goal.”

According to Ms Palmer, “Millions of tons of wood waste are created yearly in the U.S.”

The black pigment is lightfast, humidity- and sweat-resistant and does not contain petroleum or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), a carcinogen in traditional carbon black pigments.

The pigment can be used in any other pigment for applications such as screen printing, rotary printing, digital inkjet printing, solution dye, airbrush and coatings.

Massive scale is required to ensure the product is price competitive.

In developing the new pigment, Ms Palmer said she and her team recognized that the final product had to be competitively priced with traditional petroleum-based pigments. 

“We have to come out of the gate at a massive scale to get it to a competitive price,” she said. 

It was also crucial that the pigment could be used with existing equipment, Ms Palmer said. 

“We designed it for easy adoption,” she said. “It’s as easy as taking our pigment off the shelf. We set it up to be a no-brainer.”

Over the weekend, the actor shared the news with fans on Twitter.

Mr DiCaprio is part of a USD 2.45 million funding round led by investments from Regeneration.VC ClimateTech Fund and The 22 Fund. 

Dan Fishman, General Partner at Regeneration.VC expressed his enthusiasm for the investment, stating that the fund has been “searching high and low for a drop-in replacement to petroleum-based carbon black that is 100% bio-based and at price parity.”

How It Works

Nature Coatings turns waste materials into safe and renewable solutions so the chemical industry operates in sync with nature and its needs. 

BioBlack TX is a proprietary black pigment derived from wood waste, making it free of fossil fuels, renewable and safe.

The wood waste is sourced from eucalyptus and beech wood from FSC-certified forests in Central Europe.

Using Biochar technology, it uses waste from the forests as a feedstock.

Footage courtesy of @TedX.

The wood is then turned into a pulp and spun into a soft, breathable fibre.

According to Tracy Gray from The 22 Fund, the investment will lead to clean and quality jobs in low and moderate-income communities.

“We are excited to utilise our network and expertise to support Jane Palmer and be a part of the next growth phase of Nature Coatings.”

Nature Coatings is now looking to sell its technology to more brands, develop the production facility in Georgia and expand its labour force.


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


Related Articles