Linda Ahl, with a long career in research and development, both in the academic world and in Swedish industry, has joined GreenIron as CTO. With her help, the company is leading a green revolution in the global metals and mining industry. This is achieved by developing a CO2-free technology that can produce clean metals efficiently and profitably, reflecting her lifelong commitment to sustainability.
Linda grew up in Motala, near the Göta Canal, which majestically winds its way through the Östergötland landscape. Her childhood was defined by a strong interest in animals. Her family had a dog and engaged in hunting, but Linda had a particular love for horses, fearlessly riding them in the nearby stable during her middle school years. With mathematics as her favorite subject in primary school, it was not surprising that she chose a scientific path in high school.
The plan was to become a veterinarian, but after a year as an au pair, Linda had a change of heart. This led her to move to Uppsala and pursue a master’s program in chemistry with a focus on materials chemistry. Linda thrived in the university town more than any other place and after graduation, she began researching lithium-ion batteries at the Department of Chemistry – Ångström Laboratory – at Uppsala University in the late 90s. At that time, the department was a leader in battery research in Europe and pioneers in the development of batteries for mobile phones and laptops. This was long before battery production had reached Europe, the concept of a gigafactory had emerged, or Northvolt had even been conceived.
After obtaining her doctorate, Linda felt it was time to leave the challenging world of academia and join the Swedish industry. She returned to Östergötland and started working in the research department at Sapa (later Gränges) in Finspång. In 2017, Linda became the head of research group at Gränges, and from 2020, she became Director of Research and Innovation for Gränges in Sweden. With the exception of 2.5 years at Saab in Linköping, where she worked with a group of aircraft engineers, Linda remained loyal to Gränges until 2023.
In early 2023, Linda received a tip that GreenIron was looking for a CTO. During the recruitment process, she became completely sold on GreenIron’s unique green technology. It was enticing to be involved in shaping a technology company from the ground up, experiencing the pioneering spirit with drive and short decision-making processes, and creating routines, policies, quality systems, and more. The opportunity to contribute her expertise in innovative technology development within the Swedish industry to a climate-smart start-up became the deciding factor.
Linda’s interest in sustainability and the environment has been present as long as she can remember. However, since having her own children, her commitment has grown even stronger, with an increased awareness of the devastating consequences of climate change if the world fails to achieve the green transition. At GreenIron, Linda has the opportunity to make a real difference by contributing to the company’s vision: “To become the global metals and mining sector’s most respected and innovative CO2-free company, by leading our industry’s transformation from a linear to a circular economy.”
“We are a sharp team with significant differences, but with complementary skills, both on a personal and experiential level. From newly graduated, hungry employees to GreenIron’s CEO and co-founder, Edward Murray, with his unwavering belief in the company’s future and groundbreaking technology,” says Linda.
As CTO, Linda is responsible for GreenIron’s technology function, which currently consists of three people. They test various input materials and study process flows for potential customers in the test furnace in Kumla and provide technical input for the design of the first production furnace. This first prototype is well thought out, and future generations of furnaces will build upon the lessons, continuous evaluations, and fine-tuning that are constantly being undertaken. Linda also leads EU-funded projects to further refine and develop various production methods.
“The fact that Hans Murray invented this technology already in the 70s is absolutely remarkable. Having him as part of the organisation actively contributing his wisdom increases the engagement of all of us. This gives us the confidence that the first production furnace will meet our high expectations”, explains Linda.
In 2024, GreenIron plans to begin building a technology organisation. The long-term goal is to establish a demonstration environment with both a material laboratory and a competence center. Additionally, it is crucial to establish close collaboration with researchers at universities and colleges. An important personal drive to fit into Linda’s team is the capacity to thinking outside of the box. This means having a broad spectrum and a creative mind to define and operate new solutions for old problems. Re-defining an old industry intrinsically requires not expecting a straightforward path from “a” to “z”.
In a few years, Linda hopes that the responsibility for technology development has grown from three people and a test furnace in Kumla to a worldwide, Swedish-based technology organisation, with GreenIron’s furnaces operating globally. In two decades, Linda hopes that GreenIron will be the most reputable company in the global metals and mining industry, being one of the leading players in the green industrial evolution.
When asked about what distinguishes GreenIron’s technology, Linda states, “In our CO2-free process, we can reduce various oxide materials to pure metals, with water as the only byproduct. The process is cycle-based, allowing for variations in input materials from batch to batch. The capacity can be adjusted according to our customers’ needs since the production process is entirely scalable. As far as we understand, our solution is the most energy-efficient and long-term profitable in the industry.”
The latter statement makes Linda particularly proud, as she is convinced that profitability and sustainability must go hand in hand for the green transition to be successful.