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California green hydrogen plant completes phase 1 operability

H2B2 Electrolysis Technologies has completed phase 1 of a green hydrogen production plant in California.

H2B2 Electrolysis Technologies has reached full operations on phase 1 of SoHyCal, producing up to one ton per day of green hydrogen powered by biogas. 

The plant, in Fresno, California, will transition into solar energy in phase two, expected to produce a total of three tons per day of green hydrogen powered by PV by 2Q24 2024. This amount of hydrogen will fuel up to 210,000 cars per year or 30,000 city buses, the company said in a news release.

H2B2 secured a $3.96m grant from the California Energy Commission Clean Transportation Program for the SoHyCal project. The  grant represents the entirety of the financing for the project, H2B2 CEO Pedro Pajares said in response to emailed questions.

Phase 1 operations include the ability to fuel fleets with green hydrogen in the San Joaquin Valley and San Francisco Bay Area, he added.

No decisions have yet been made about whether the company will raise additional capital for phase 2 of the project, Pajares said.

H2B2 is a proud member and supporter of The Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES), with SoHyCal an example of the type of projects the hub can promote.

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Brookfield-backed LanzaTech hires EVP from Shell

LanzaTech Global has hired Aura Cuellar as EVP of growth and strategic projects. She was previously vice president of energy transition at Shell.

LanzaTech Global, Inc., an innovative carbon capture and transformation company, has hired Aura Cuellar as EVP of growth and strategic projects, according to a news release.

LanzaTech is pioneering a new circular carbon economy. The company captures carbon emissions and pollution from industries and uses a specialty microbe to convert them into the building blocks used to make everyday materials, including sustainable fuels, packaging, and textiles. This process patterns after traditional refining methods but offers a way of refining carbon that has already seen a primary use rather than processing virgin fossil carbon.

The company has a strong project pipeline in addition to three operating commercial scale plants and an anticipated three more coming online before the end of 2023. In October 2022, LanzaTech announced a strategic funding partnership with Brookfield Renewable to build additional commercial facilities. The funding will be provided through the Brookfield Global Transition Fund, which is the largest private fund in the world focused on the energy transition. Brookfield is LanzaTech’s preferred capital partner for project opportunities in Europe and North America and following initial investments totaling $500m, Brookfield could commit to making an additional $500m available for investments in the strategic partnership if sufficient projects are available at the agreed milestones.

With the appointment of Cuellar, who has a record of running and implementing large scale capital projects for the refining and chemicals sectors, LanzaTech installs a global executive with seasoned project management, construction, and commercial negotiation experience to accelerate deployment of projects and capital in partnership with Brookfield.

The creation of a team around Cuellar is expected to fast track growth and bring additional revenue to the newly listed company by accelerating capital deployment from Brookfield.

Prior to joining LanzaTech, Aura Cuellar most recently served as Vice President of Energy Transition for Shell in the United States. Originally hired into an engineering position, Cuellar advanced her 24+ year tenure at Shell across various senior executive roles in downstream manufacturing. Cuellar brings a proven successful track record of strategy development and implementation, strategic commercial partnerships formation for creating sustainable revenue pipelines, and management of an annual capital projects portfolio of $500m.

“LanzaTech continues to set an example for decarbonization, matching innovation with ambition,” said Natalie Adomait, managing partner, and CIO of Transition Investing at Brookfield. “With Aura at the helm of this infrastructure initiative, we look forward to continuing the work Brookfield has begun with LanzaTech on our journey toward a circular carbon economy.”

“As the world’s first public carbon transformation company, we are doubling down our efforts to accelerate the commercial deployment of our technology,” said Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “We have found the right leader in Aura and the right partner in Brookfield Renewables. Together we can get more steel in the ground and start solving our carbon emissions problem today. This is what the world needs us to do.”

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Power plant manager seeking capital for Boston acquisitions

A manager of natural gas power plants is seeking capital to acquire two facilities in the Boston area and convert them into low-carbon generation assets.

US Grid Company, an owner and operator of electric generation assets in US cities, is seeking to raise capital to make a pair of acquisitions in Boston.

The New York-based plant manager is targeting facilities owned by Calpine and Constellation, CEO Jacob Worenklein said.

Calpine owns the Fore River Energy Center, a 731 MW, combined-cycle plant located 12 miles southeast of Boston, while Constellation owns Mystic Generating Station, a 1,413 MW natural gas-fired plant in Everett, Massachusetts.

Worenklein would acquire the assets and seek to implement lower-carbon generation solutions such as batteries, renewables, or clean fuels, he said.

He has held conversations with both Calpine and Constellation about acquiring the assets, and would need approximately $100m of equity capital to make an acquisition, he said, with the balance coming in the form of debt capital.

US Grid Company previously had investment backing from EnCap Energy Transition and Yorktown Partners, but the funds for the deal were pulled.

Worenklein has had a storied career in the US power sector, serving as a global head in roles at SocGen and Lehman Brothers. He was also founder and head of the power and projects law practice at Milbank.

From 2017 to 2020 he served as chairman of Ravenswood Power Holdings, the owner and operator of a 2,000 MW gas-fired plant in Queens, New York.

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World Energy GH2 inks $95m credit facility with Canadian export agency

The project in Newfoundland and Labrador has signed a $95m credit facility with Export Development Canada to support a green ammonia project through financial close.

Export Development Canada (EDC), on behalf of the Government of Canada, and World Energy GH2 have signed definitive agreements in connection with a CA$128M ($95M) credit facility to support the development of Project Nujio’qonik through to its financial close of its longterm financing, according to a news release.

The credit facility will help finance the build out of clean power generation and clean hydrogen production that will advance Canada’s efforts and initiatives in pursuit of global decarbonization.

The agreement demonstrates Canada’s continuing material support of the Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance signed between the two countries at Project Nujio’qonik’s site in Stephenville, NL, in August 2022, and provides leadership for renewable green energy to be generated and exported to markets in Germany, Europe and around the world, as well as for domestic consumption.

Once complete, Project Nujio’qonik will produce ~210,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year (1.2 million tonnes of green ammonia) with the first phase expected to produce ~400,000 tonnes of green ammonia for export.

Project Nujio’qonik’s green hydrogen and ammonia will be RFNBO-compliant (renewable fuels of non-biological origin), and will meet Europe’s criteria for green hydrogen. Project Nujio’qonik’s first phase will create approximately 2,200 direct construction jobs, 400 operations jobs, and 4,200 indirect jobs.

RBC Capital Markets and Green Giraffe Advisory are acting as financial advisors for the credit facility on behalf of World Energy GH2. McCarthy Tétrault and McInnes Cooper are acting as legal advisors to World Energy GH2. Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP and Stewart McKelvey are acting as legal advisors on the transaction.

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NOx mitigation firm looking to scale

A publicly listed company with a hydrogen burner project backed by one of the largest US utilities could accelerate growth with a capital infusion in pursuit of first-adopter clients. It offers technology that aims to mitigate an underappreciated aspect of the embryonic clean hydrogen ecosystem: blending hydrogen with natural gas can greatly increase NOx emissions when combusted.

ClearSign Technologies, the publicly listed burner solutions provider, is at an inflection point in the development of its products to serve players in the emerging hydrogen landscape, CEO Jim Deller said in an interview.

“We’re new,” Deller said of the company’s emergence on the hydrogen scene. The company is aggressively seeking a place in the hydrogen mainstream as it pursues first-adopter clients. “We need to get our install base up.”

ClearSign recently received a collaboration commitment and pledged funding for its 100% Hydrogen Ultra Low NOx burner project from Southern California Gas Co. This comes on top of the SBIR program Phase 2 Award for $1.6m from the DOE. The company has one year’s cash on hand, according to Deller.

Hydrogen blending increases the output of NOx emissions, which are heavily regulated, Deller explained. A 20% hydrogen blend with fuel gas, for example, causes a 40% increase in NOx emissions.

The goal of the project with SoCalGas is to develop NOx hydrogen burner technology, which the company believes will enable the adoption of hydrogen fuel for industrial heating.

“Your NOx permit is not going to change,” he said. “In order to use even a small amount of hydrogen in your fuel gas, you need a technology that’s going to allow you to maintain NOx emissions for an efficient price.”

Deller said he sees ClearSign as an enabler of the hydrogen transition, pointing to SoCalGas’ need to keep their clients compliant with their operating permits.

“They’re going to have to modify their technology to enable the combustion of hydrogen without exceeding their NOx permits, and that’s where we come in.”

A ‘pivotal point’

ClearSign is open to discussing partnerships and financial options to scale deployment of its technology, Deller said, pointing to potential markets in Texas and the Pacific Northwest.

“We’re certainly open to any company that has a compatible technology,” Deller said.

ClearSign is not engaged for M&A now, but it does have discussions with prospective financial advisors, company spokesperson Matthew Selinger said. “Like any small company, if we had more money we could potentially accelerate faster.”

The company is not considering a spin off now, Deller said, focusing instead on getting traction commercially. ClearSign has not historically taken on debt. Those types of business opportunities are not off the table, but technical synergy and strategic partnerships are first pursued for value creation.

“We’re at a pivotal point, I believe, in the development of our technology,” Deller said. “I’m open to talk about any ideas.”

A technology in development

The burner technology is also applicable to systems that use only hydrogen, Deller said. The Phase 2 DOE grant funding is meant to develop a full range of commercial burners that will operate through a range of fuel gasses up to and including 100% hydrogen.

ClearSign does not have additional partnerships pending announcement, Deller said. But what’s applicable in Southern California is relevant to discussions happening in proposed hydrogen hubs around the country.

The company is headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, along with process burner manufacturing partner Zeeco. It uses third-party manufacturing and will continue to do so, Deller said.

ClearSign also has offices in Seattle and Beijing. The company’s US and Chinese businesses to not have a materials shipping relationship, Deller said. The model followed has manufacturing separated between countries.

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It’s an electrolyzer – but for CO2

A New Jersey-based start-up is seeking to commercialize an electrocatalytic technology that transforms CO2 into a monomer for the plastics industry.

RenewCO2 is developing and seeking to commercialize a modular technology that converts waste CO2 into a usable product.

The New Jersey-based company is advancing a pilot project at an Ace Ethanol plant in Wisconsin that will take CO2 and convert it to monoethylene glycol, which can be used by the plastics industry.

The project was recently selected by the US DOE to receive a $500,000 grant. It seeks to demonstrate the technology’s ability to reduce the ethanol plant’s carbon footprint and produce a carbon-negative chemical.

In an interview, RenewCO2 co-founders Anders Laursen and Karin Calvinho said their technology, which was developed at Rutgers University, is geared toward carbon emitters who can not easily pipe away their CO2 and who may have use for the resulting product.


“It’s a matter of economics,” said Calvinho, who serves as the company’s CTO. Using the RenewCO2 technology, the ethanol plant or other user is able to keep 45Q tax incentives for capturing CO2 while also creating a product that generates an additional revenue stream.

Additionally, the modular design of the technology prevents emitters from having to build expensive pipeline infrastructure for CO2, she added. “We want to help to facilitate the use of the CO2 on site,” she said.

One of the goals of the project is to measure the carbon intensity of these technologies in combination, which ultimately depends on the electricity source for the electrochemical process, similar to an electrolyzer, Laursen, who is the CEO, said.

“The main constraint from a location point of view is the availability of reliable and affordable green power,” Laursen added.

Creating a market

The principal target market for RenewCO2’s technology is existing producers of monoethylene glycol (MEG), which is used to make recycled plastics, as well as ethanol producers and other emitters with purified CO2 streams.

Producers of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – one of the most recycled plastics globally – are also potential customers since they use MEG in their production process and have CO2 sources on site.

“Right now, MEG produced in the US is, for the most part, not polymerized into PET – it’s shipped overseas for making PET plastics used in textiles, and then made into fibers or shipped further,” Laursen said. “So if you can shorten that transport chain, you can reduce the CO2 emissions associated with the final product.”

RenewCO2 is looking for partners to help build the modular units, and is evaluating the purchase of existing PEM electrolyzer units that can be reconfigured, or having the units custom manufactured.

“We’re talking to potential manufacturing partners and evaluating whether we should do the manufacturing ourselves,” Calvinho said. And if they choose the latter route, she added, “we will have to build our own facilities, but it’s early to say.”

The company has raised a total of $10m in venture investment and grant funding, including a pre-seed round of over $2m from Energy Transition Ventures, a Houston-based venture capital fund.

While not currently fundraising, Laursen said they are always taking calls to get to know the investors that are interested in the space. He added that the company may need to raise additional capital in 12 to 18 months.

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EXCLUSIVE: 8 Rivers co-founder departs firm

A co-founder and executive has departed the North Carolina-based firm, which recently announced an ammonia project in Texas.

Bill Brown, a co-founder of the technology commercialization firm and clean fuels developer 8 Rivers Capital, has retired from the company, a spokesperson confirmed via email.
According to Brown’s LinkedIn profile, he is serving now as CEO of New Waters Capital. He co-founded 8 Rivers and also served as CEO and CTO in this nearly 16 years there.
Brown did not respond to a request for comment.
According to 8 Rivers’ website, Dharmesh Patel is serving as interim CEO. The company recently announced development of the Cormorant Clean Energy ammonia production facility in Port Arthur, Texas
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