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Aemetis approved for $200m USCIS financing

The financing will be made available through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' EB-5 program.

Aemetis, Inc., a renewable natural gas and renewable fuels company focused on low and negative carbon intensity products, today announced approval by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of $200 million of EB-5 program investment for the Riverbank sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production plant, the dairy renewable natural gas (RNG) project, the carbon sequestration project, and energy efficiency upgrades to the Keyes ethanol plant.

The Riverbank plant was recently granted Authority to Construct (ATC) air permits and is designed to produce 78 million gallons per year of SAF for the aviation market. Aemetis has already secured more than $3 billion of contracts to supply airlines with SAF.

“This $200 million of funding provides attractive terms at a low interest rate to fund our projects, including the dairy renewable natural gas project and the sustainable aviation fuel plant to meet rapidly increasing global demand for SAF from airlines,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis. “This EB-5 funding, the 20-year USDA guaranteed loans, and other financings support the continued growth of the company as set forth in the Aemetis Five Year Plan,” McAfee added.

According to the determinations made by the USCIS, the Regional Center presented evidence asserting that 245 qualified investors will invest $200 million in EB-5 capital into Advanced Bioenergy II, the new commercial enterprise (NCE). The NCE will invest in Aemetis Advanced Products Keyes, the job creating entity (JCE).

The JCE intends to expand the existing 65 million gallon per year Aemetis ethanol plant in Keyes, California by the engineering, permitting, construction and operation of: 1) upgrades to the ethanol plant for improved energy efficiency and increased production, including the installation of solar panels,mechanical vapor recompression, and the use of sugars from waste forest and orchard wood to replace corn sugars for biofuels production; 2) the dairy Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) system that includes dairy digesters, a gas pipeline, a central facility to convert biogas to renewable natural gas, RNG fueling stations, and an interconnection facility to the utility gas pipeline; 3) a biofuels production facility that uses the distillers oil product of the ethanol plant and other renewable oils to produce SAF and RD; and 4) a well that sequesters carbon in the form of CO2 emitted by the production processes and other CO2 emissions collected in the area.

The Project’s two primary locations are the Aemetis Advanced Fuels Keyes 65 million gallon per year ethanol plant and the Riverbank Industrial Complex.  The USCIS found that the Aemetis projects are both located within high unemployment areas.

Eight investors have already invested $500,000 per investor (a total of $4.0 million) and 245 additional future investors have now been approved at $800,000 per investor (for an additional $196.0 million) for a total of $200 million under the EB-5 program.

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ENEOS to develop commercial scale LOHC project

ENEOS will use technology from Honeywell to develop a commercial scale liquid organic hydrogen carrier project.

Honeywell today announced that ENEOS, a leading energy company in Japan, will develop the world’s first commercial scale Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) project using Honeywell’s solution at multiple sites.

The LOHC solution enables the long-distance transportation of clean hydrogen and can help meet the growing requirements for hydrogen use across various industries by leveraging existing refining assets and infrastructure.

“With more cost-effective long-distance transport, our Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier provides a method of more closely matching international supply and demand for hydrogen which enables hydrogen to play a critical role in the energy mix as we move toward lower-carbon economies,” said Ken West, president and CEO of Honeywell Energy and Sustainability Solutions, in a news release. “By providing solutions to help overcome the challenges of hydrogen transportation, Honeywell is supporting ENEOS in transitioning to a hydrogen-powered future.”

This is one of multiple hydrogen transportation projects on which Honeywell and ENEOS are collaborating. In the Honeywell LOHC solution, hydrogen gas is combined chemically through the Honeywell Toluene Hydrogenation process into methylcyclohexane (MCH) – a convenient liquid carrier – compatible with existing infrastructure. The hydrogen at these sites will be exported – in the same way as petrochemical products – to ENEOS in Japan in the form of MCH. Once at its destination, the hydrogen will be recovered using the Honeywell MCH Dehydrogenation process and released for use, while the toluene can be sent back for additional cycles.

Hydrogen is expected to play a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At standard conditions, hydrogen is a flammable gas with low density and cannot be efficiently or easily transported. Current solutions available for transporting hydrogen include liquifying the hydrogen and using chemical carriers such as ammonia, each of which requires additional infrastructure to produce and transport hydrogen.

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Japanese shippers form hydrogen supply consortium

Japan’s big three shippers have formed a consortium along with JSE Ocean to establish a global liquefied hydrogen supply chain.

Japan’s big three shippers have formed a partnership to establish a global liquefied hydrogen supply chain.

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, and Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha have joined JSE Ocean, a subsidiary of Japan Suiso Energy, to establish the marine transport of LH2 at a commercial scale.

JSE remains the majority shareholder of JSE Ocean with 50.2% of stock, while the shipping companies hold 16.6% each, according to a news release.

JSE Ocean was established in January 2023 to research the marine transportation of LH2 by using a large-scale LH2 carrier. JSE and the three Japanese shipping companies with extensive knowledge and experience in the energy transport business will establish the marine transport of LH2 at a commercial scale through JSE Ocean.

The parties will collaborate to explore the safe and efficient operation of the world’s first large-scale LH2 carrier by 2024, as well as develop a viable marine transportation business scheme. Furthermore, the LH2 carrier will be powered by hydrogen, significantly reducing CO2 emissions during operation.

In August 2021, Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) allocated a grant from the Japanese government’s Green Innovation Fund to JSE, Iwatani Corporation and ENEOS Corporation for the “Liquefied Hydrogen Supply Chain Commercialization Demonstration Project”.

In this project, JSE will establish the world’s first large-scale hydrogen liquefaction and transportation technology, involving an initial 30,000 tons of hydrogen per year before upscaling. JSE will also demonstrate a comprehensive and reliable global liquefied hydrogen (LH2) supply chain, covering hydrogen production, liquefaction, export from Australia, marine transportation, and import.

As part of its Basic Hydrogen Strategy, Japan has committed to source 3 million tons/year of hydrogen by 2030, 12 million tons/year by 2040, and 20 million tons/year by 2050.

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Vertex Energy appoints advisor for renewable fuels strategy

NASDAQ-listed Vertex has engaged BofA as strategic financial advisor.

Vertex Energy, Inc., a specialty refiner and marketer of refined products, has named BofA Securities as strategic financial advisor to assist with its renewable fuels and sustainable products growth strategy.

During this engagement, the company expects to review various potential strategic transaction opportunities aimed at strengthening the balance sheet to support growth acceleration and asset development in line with the company’s forward trajectory as an energy transition company, it said in a statement.

Vertex has not set a timetable for the completion of this process and does not intend to comment further unless or until the Board of Directors has approved a definitive course of action, or it is determined that other disclosure is necessary or appropriate.

Benjamin P. Cowart, President and CEO of Vertex, stated, “Scaling our renewable fuels and sustainable products strategy is a top priority for us. As such, we are tightening our focus on strategic initiatives and considering options that optimally support our long-term vision. We believe BofA has the right tools and expertise to help us transition into this next phase of development for the company.”

Vertex Energy commissioned its first renewable diesel facility at the company’s Mobile refinery and the first renewable diesel facility in Alabama in. May.

In 2022, Vertex acquired a conventional fuels refinery from Shell plc, immediately launching a $115m conversion project. The primary aim of the project was to convert a standalone unit within the refinery to facilitate the production of renewable diesel, a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to petroleum diesel fuel.

The project reached mechanical completion on March 31st of this year.

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Carbon capture OEM eyeing US for manufacturing plant

A Vancouver-based maker of carbon capture equipment is considering building a manufacturing plant in the US. Its number one target market: gray hydrogen producers.

Svante, a carbon capture original equipment manufacturer based in Vancouver, is eyeing the US as it seeks to expand its market presence across North America.

The company has raised sufficient capital to construct its first plant in Vancouver, where it will make specialized filters and contactor machines used in the carbon capture and removal processes, Svante CEO Claude Letourneau said in an interview.

Within several years, Svante is planning to build a second manufacturing facility in the United States, closer to where its customers are located and where CO2 can be monetized, Letourneau said.

Svante raised $318m last year in a series E fundraising round led by Chevron New Energies. It will spend approximately $100m to build the Vancouver facility.

Letourneau says the company’s principal target market in North America is existing gray hydrogen facilities that use steam methane reforming, of which there are around 1,000. The cost of adding carbon capture to existing SMR plants brings the cost of blue hydrogen from $1.50 per kilogram to around $2 per kilogram, according to Letourneau, compared to green hydrogen that will cost between $3 – $6 per kilogram with a similar carbon footprint.

“It’s a good solution,” he said.

Optimizing costs

As an original equipment manufacturer, Svante has partnerships with some of the largest EPC companies in the world for carbon capture projects: Kiewit in North America, Technip in Europe, and Samsung in Asia.

“When you have a technology that you want to take to market, you need to get the benefit of a close relationship with these EPC contractors if you want to deploy quickly and reduce costs,” he said.

He noted that the filters and contactors typically make up between 10% – 15% of the cost of a carbon capture plant, while the rest is in the balance of plant. Filters typically have a lifespan of three to five years, he said, allowing for additional recurring revenues for Svante after the initial installation.

Svante is working on five to six projects with Kiewit in North America that are in the pre-FEED and FEED stages, with FIDs expected by the end of next year. It is also working with Linde on a Department of Energy-sponsored pre-FEED carbon capture project for Linde’s Port Arthur gray hydrogen facility.

Additionally, Svante has a partnership with Swiss-based Climeworks for direct air carbon capture technologies.

“We want to be for carbon capture what GE Aerospace is for the jet engine industry,” he said, using an analogy to a market in which there are only several OEMs in a large, consolidated industry.

Target market

There are around 10,000 emitting plants globally that need carbon capture in order to decarbonize; meanwhile there are only 40 carbon capture facilities in operation, according to Letourneau. Svante’s Vancouver plant will be able to make equipment for around 10 plants per year, but eventually the company would like to scale up to between 50 – 100 plants per year with additional manufacturing capacity.

“This is a big problem we’re trying to solve here,” he said.

To build the second plant in the US, the company will explore using project finance debt and seek to take advantage of US government incentives for clean energy manufacturing. The recently enhanced carbon capture tax incentives – of $85 per ton of CO2 captured versus $50 previously – will also benefit Svante’s carbon-emitting customers.

In addition to gray hydrogen, the company is targeting carbon emissions from oil and gas refining as well as pulp and paper mills.

Use cases

Svante’s modular solid sorbent technology can be inserted to capture flue gas at the end of the refining process instead of inside the plant, offering fewer disruptions to existing systems. Svante then concentrates the CO2 into a pipeline grade for storage or industrial use.

“Nobody makes these filters in the world,” Letourneau continued, “so if I want to convince somebody to give Kiewit and ourselves a purchase order for $300m to build a 1 million-ton-per-year plant, they need to see that we have a manufacturing plant to make the filters, they need to see that we have the size of the contactor done at commercial size, and they need to see that we’ve done all the engineering studies to justify that this project can be monetized, economical, and the like.”

The company is sufficiently capitalized to advance the projects in its pipeline, and is focused on completing the Vancouver plant and garnering purchase orders in order to become profitable. A potential future exit could come in the form of an IPO or sale to a larger player, Letourneau said.

“We understand the market is quite buoyant and probably a few large companies are going to try to dominate, and they may decide they want to acquire a company like us, so an M&A is a possible exit in the next five years, depending on the conditions,” he said.

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Exclusive: Advanced Ionics raising $12.5m, seeking pilot project partners

Advanced Ionics, an electrolyzer developer based in the Midwest, is approaching a close on the second tranche of its Series A and is seeking sponsors for pilot projects in Texas and elsewhere.

The company’s Symbiotic electrolyzers use steam by tapping into excess heat from industrial settings, thereby lowering electricity needs for water splitting to 35 kWh per kg, with 30 kWh per kg possible. That compares to industry averages over 50 kWh per kg.

Advanced Ionics, the Milwaukee-based electrolyzer developer, is about six weeks out from closing a second tranche of its Series A and is seeking new partnerships for pilot projects in the US, Chief Commercial Officer Ignacio Bincaz told ReSource.

Bincaz, based in Houston, is working to close the second $12.5m tranche, which is roughly the same size as the first tranche. The company has technical teams in Wisconsin but could build out those as well as commercial capabilities in Houston.
The company’s Symbiotic electrolyzers use steam by tapping into excess heat from industrial settings, thereby lowering electricity needs for water splitting to 35 kWh per kg, with 30 kWh per kg possible. That compares to industry averages over 50 kWh per kg.

“We just put together our first stack, Generation One, which are 100 square centimeters,” Bincaz said. Generation Two stacks will come later this year, but to get to Generation Three — commercial size, producing between 7 and 16 tons per day — the company will have to conduct a Series B about one year from now.

“For that, we need to hit certain benchmarks on durability of a stack,” he said. “The money will go toward scaling up and getting the data expected by investors to get us to Series B.”

Aside from equity provisions, Advanced Ionics is looking for sponsors for pilots and related studies, Bincaz said. “There’s different ways that we’re looking for collaboration.”

Between 2027 and 2028 the company expects to have commercial-size Generation Three stacks in the market.

Pilot projects

Advanced Ionics has two pilot projects in development with Repsol Foundation and Arpa-E (US Department of Energy), respectively.

The Repsol project is a Generation One development producing 1 kilogram per day, Bincaz said. The government project will be the first Generation Two project.

Another pilot is in development with a large energy company that Bincaz declined to name. The company is also exploring pilot projects with bp, which is an investor in the company.

After four or so pilot projects of ascending scale, the company will look to do its first industrial-scale project using real process heat or steam, integrated into a hydrogen-use process like ammonia manufacturing or chemical refining.

“We’re talking to companies in Asia, companies in Europe, companies in the US,” he said, specifically naming Japan and Singapore. “I’m in early conversations.”

Advanced Ionics’ first tranche Series A was led by bp ventures, with participation from Clean Energy Ventures, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and GVP Climate.

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Quantron kicks off Series B equity raise

The German and American mobility provider is seeking to raise EUR 200m in a Series B equity raise, as the company plans to become a one-stop-shop for hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles, according to a teaser.

Quantron, the Germany and US-based hydrogen trucking manufacturer, is seeking to raise EUR 200m in a Series B capital raise, and has further plans to raise money in a Series C in 2024 or 2025, followed by an anticipated IPO beyond 2025.

The company plans to use proceeds from the Series B accelerate the roll-out of existing production and make additional market entries included expanding its operations in the US, according to a sale teaser seen by The Hydrogen Source. Stifel is leading the capital raise, as previously reported.

By advancing a full-scale zero-emission ecosystem, Quantron is seeking to take part in the sourcing and distribution of green energy and hydrogen, as well as building fuel cell and battery electric vehicles and components and offering customer solutions like aftersales, the teaser notes.

Quantron, which has offices in Augsburg, Germany and Detroit, Michigan, has brought in about EUR 28m in revenues since inception and expects EUR 60m in revenue this year, fueled by a EUR 100m order book and pipeline. The company has put 150 vehicles on the road to date and has 130 employees.

Its Series A capital raise of EUR 45m, completed in September, 2022, implied a EUR 250m pre-money valuation. The ongoing EUR 200m capital raise will come in the form of the Series B financing as well as working capital facilities.

The company recently announced commitments with FirstElement Fuel and Goldstone Technologies Limited. Quantron debuted its Class 8 hydrogen fuel-cell truck in the US at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Anaheim, California in April.

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