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Cemvita heralds SAF feedstock production breakthrough

A process to produce what the company calls sustainable oil from microorganisms as a SAF feedstock has produced high-yield extraction from the 4,000-liter bioreactor the company operates in Houston.

Cemvita, the biosolutions provider for the energy industry, has made a “significant breakthrough” in the production of Sustainable Oil from waste carbon sources, according to a news release.

“This landmark achievement marks a pivotal step forward in the production of low-carbon intensity feedstocks for HEFA sustainable aviation fuel,” the release states. “We simply do not have enough low-carbon intensity feedstock locally in the US.”

About  five billion pounds a year are imported from places as far away as Australia and China.

Cemvita’s microorganisms are rich in oil and undergo a series of processing steps to extract it. The process has produced high-yield extraction of the oil from the 4,000-liter bioreactor the company operates in Houston.

Early tests confirm that Cemvita’s Sustainable Oil is a drop-in replacement for palm oil in all its use cases.

The next step for Sustainable Oil will be the conversion into sustainable aviation fuel by partners in refining. The use of sustainable oil in SAF production targets a reduction of emissions of up to 80% over common jet fuel, with further applications in food, cosmetics, and specialty chemicals.

Such an achievement opens up new avenues for sustainable fuel feedstock production. To ensure reliability, Cemvita will continue the process with the produced Sustainable Oil undergoing extensive characterization and product testing to ensure its performance and compatibility with existing aviation infrastructure.

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Lummus launches ethanol-based SAF technology

The company has made its ethanol to SAF process technology commercially available.

Lummus Technology, a global provider of process technologies and value-driven energy solutions, announced the commercial availability of its ethanol to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) process technology, according to a news release.

The technology provides operators with a large-scale, commercially demonstrated solution to reduce the aviation industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“Lummus’ extensive commercial experience in all steps, including conversion of ethanol feedstock and production of the SAF process, gives us a unique advantage to help our customers produce sustainable fuels,” said Leon de Bruyn, president and Chief Executive Officer of Lummus Technology. “Our process leverages proven, commercial-scale technologies that we integrate to meet the aviation industry’s growing demand for SAF and support its decarbonization efforts.”

Lummus’ ethanol to SAF technology offers a safe and reliable solution by integrating ethanol to ethylene (EtE), olefin oligomerization and hydrogenation technologies in a process configuration that maximizes the final yield to SAF while minimizing CAPEX, OPEX and carbon emissions.
Central to this process is Lummus and Braskem’s technology partnership for producing green ethylene, which accelerates the use of bioethanol and supports the industry’s efforts towards a carbon neutral economy. Since 2010, Braskem has been operating an ethanol dehydration unit in Brazil. Using EtE EverGreen™ technology, the unit provides a proven and reliable foundation for producing 260 kilotons per year of ethylene from ethanol. Lummus has integrated this world-scale dehydration process with its light olefins oligomerization and advanced hydroprocessing technologies through Chevron Lummus Global, a joint venture with Chevron.

This integrated offering makes the entire ethanol to SAF value chain available for exclusive licensing by Lummus.

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Twelve enters SAF technology license agreement

The carbon transformation company has licensed technology from Emerging Fuels Technology to scale production of sustainable aviation fuel.

Carbon transformation company Twelve and fuel technology partner Emerging Fuels Technology (EFT) have signed a Master License Agreement to support Twelve’s scaleup of its E-Jet® fuel, a fossil-free sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) produced using the company’s carbon transformation technology in combination with EFT’s Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and Maxx Jet™ upgrading technology.

With aviation representing one of the most difficult-to-address sectors for emissions, Twelve is scaling E-Jet fuel manufacturing capacity to meet rapidly growing demand from customers looking to reach net zero climate goals. Twelve, in partnership with EFT, produces its E-Jet fuel using its carbon transformation technology, which uses renewable energy to transform CO2 and water into critical feedstocks conventionally made from fossil fuels. With up to 90% lower lifecycle emissions compared to conventional fuels, E-Jet fuel is a drop-in synthetic fuel that works seamlessly with existing aircraft and uses CO2 to provide a virtually limitless carbon source, offering the most viable long-term solution for addressing emissions from the rapidly growing aviation industry.

Twelve’s first E-Jet fuel partner was the US Air Force, which tested fuel produced by Twelve and EFT in August 2021. Last year, Shopify, one of the largest corporate purchasers of long-term carbon removal, announced the first purchase of E-Jet fuel through the company’s Sustainability Fund. In July 2022, Twelve, Alaska Airlines and Microsoft announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on advancing the SAF market to include fuels derived from recaptured CO2 and renewable energy, and working toward the first commercial demonstration flight in the United States powered by Twelve’s fossil-free fuel.

“We’re excited to continue our work with Emerging Fuels Technology and use our partnership to support Twelve’s scaleup to meet customer demand for E-Jet fuel and other CO2Made® products,” said Nicholas Flanders, co-founder and CEO of Twelve. “EFT’s modular Fischer-Tropsch systems are highly compatible with our carbon transformation technology, which can be sited flexibly and scaled to any need.”

“After already proving that our technologies can come together to produce SAF, we now have the opportunity, with Twelve, to see the fully integrated commercial scale e-fuel platform deployed,” said Kenneth Agee, president at EFT. “This is an excellent demonstration of how EFT’s technology can be utilized, and we look forward to the continued collaboration with Twelve that addresses the rising and urgent global demand for sustainable aviation fuel.”

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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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California renewables developer taps advisor for capital raise

Utility-scale solar and storage developer RAI Energy has tapped an advisor for a capital raise. The company is evaluating co-development conversion for green ammonia production at projects in Arizona and California.

RAI Energy, the utility-scale solar and storage developer, has hired an advisor as it pursues a capital raise.

The company is working with Keybanc Capital Markets in a process to raise up to $25m, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

In an interview, RAI Energy CEO and owner Mohammed S. Alrai said the company “is excited about having [Keybanc] act as our financial advisors on this fundraising round.” He noted that RAI is first a solar-plus-storage developer and is approaching investors as such.

However, RAI is evaluating co-development conversion for green ammonia production at two of its project sites in Arizona and California, he said.

“Hydrogen is a natural next step,” Alrai said of his company, adding that the end-product would be green ammonia for use in fertilizer production and industrial sectors. Pure hydrogen could also be kept for use in transportation.

A variety of partnerships would be required to develop hydrogen at RAI’s solar sites, Alrai said. The company could need advisory services to structure those partnerships.

RAI is working with engineers on the hydrogen question now and is open to additional technology and finance advisory relationships, he said. The company is also evaluating several electrolyzer manufacturers.

“It’s an open book for us right now,” Alrai said of hydrogen production. “We’re always open to talking to people who can help us.”

For hydrogen project development, RAI would seek project level debt and equity similar to its solar developments, Alrai said. Early-stage project sites in Colorado and New Mexico could also be candidates for hydrogen co-development.

Keybanc delined to comment for this story.

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Reaching bankability: The developing financial landscape around green hydrogen

Panelists at the S&P Platts Global Power Markets conference discussed existing and future opportunities to finance hydrogen production, storage and transport.

Decarbonizing is no longer an option: almost every company in every industry understands that’s the direction in which they need to be moving – now.

And for some companies, hydrogen is the only solution, Fanny Charrier, hydrogen Americas coordinator at Crédit Agricole CIB, said during the Fueling Tomorrow with Hydrogen panel at the S&P Platts Global Power Markets conference this week.

Even so, the project menu is limited.

“We haven’t seen many projects to finance,” Charrier said. “Everybody’s waiting.”

ACES Delta in Utah is thus far the only producing green hydrogen project in the US to raise financing, Charrier said. Credit Agricole is thus focused on M&A debt and equity advisory.

“What we’re looking at is mostly pure green hydrogen projects,” she said. Green ammonia shipping to Europe is a main end-use and market. Project sizes range from a few million up to USD 5bn. “We’re also supporting some electrolyzer manufacturing plants.”

Mobility, heavy trucks and shippers looking for hydrogen is a potentially huge market, but hasn’t materialized yet, she said.

Demand signals

In Europe, commitments to close traditional power generation assets hold promise for clean fuels, António Fayad, manager of hydrogen strategy at EDP Renewables, said during the panel. In the US, EDP is mainly looking to industry to buy hydrogen at or adjacent to factories and other relevant facilities.

There has been a strong, customer-led demand signal from the US, said Sam Bartholomaeus, vice president of power and renewables at Woodside Energy. Woodside was already considering a hydrogen project in Oklahoma when the IRA was passed.

“The signal was already there in terms of seeing demand sectors that need to be decarbonized and seeing that we had a competitive proposition,” he said of the hydrogen portfolio Woodside is developing in the US.

Woodside recently signed a contract for Air Liquide to provide liquefaction equipment for a hydrogen project in Ardmore, Oklahoma. First production at that project will begin in 2026 and Woodside is targeting FID this year.

Government support and finding offtake  

Last year, the USD 504m loan guarantee for the US Department of Energy was a huge boost for the ACES Delta in Utah, Susan Fernandez, senior director of strategy at ACES-Delta, said.

That kind of support from governments and legislatively mandated decarbonization quickens the proliferation of new hydrogen technologies and projects.

“Others will also have the ability to receive more loan guarantee dollars,” Fernandez said of the post-IRA landscape. “We’ll see more projects come to the space.”

Still, offtake is key to reaching bankability, Charrier said.

“The key is always the offtake,” she said. Rather than a chicken-and-egg metaphor, she said she likes to mention a domino effect. “Yes, at the beginning we’ll have to pay a premium, but if it’s driven by a net-zero commitment everything will fall into place.”

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Exclusive: Carbon conversion startup planning capital raise

A Halliburton Labs-backed startup is developing a pilot plant in the Pacific Northwestern US, while forming financial relationships for an industrial-scale carbon conversion facility in the same location.

OCOchem, a Washington state-based carbon conversion startup, will seek new capital partners to build its first commercial scale facility in 2026, CEO Todd Brix said in an interview.

Starting in late 2024 or early 2025, the company will likely go to market for new liquidity – including project debt and equity, Brix said. He declined to talk about capex, but said the first commercial plant in Richland, Washington will cost “multiple tens of millions of dollars.”

The company is working with two EPCs now and is represented legally by Miller Nash law firm in the Pacific Northwest, Brix said. The company does not have a formal relationship with an investment bank but will likely form one for a Series A and later rounds.

“We’ve been in touch with a number of private equity and project finance people,” Brix said of early-stage discussions.

OCOchem is considering land options in Richland for its first plant and is organizing to begin permitting, Brix said. There is opportunity to form relationships with industrial partners in need of an offtaker for their CO2 emissions and new incremental revenue streams, as well as customers for chloral hydrates and other formic acid products.

“We expect to build hundreds of these plants all around the planet,” Brix said, referring to the process of electrochemically converting emitted CO2 and water to formic acid, which can then be used to make a suite of products like hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and formate (methanoate) derivatives. “We are close to industrial size on our plants right now.”

CO2 is captured from steam methane reformers, natural gas processing and piping, and ammonia production, among other processes. The gas is then combined with water in a cellular, modular process producing formic acid, derivatives of which can be used in a range of industries like pharmaceuticals.

The company recently raised $5m in seed funding from lead investor TO VC, which joined backers LCY Lee Family Office, MIH Capital Management, and Halliburton Labs. An additional $8m has been raised in grant funding from the US departments of Energy (DOE) and Defense (DOD).

The company is also partnered with the Nutrien Corporation on a small scale facility in Kennewick, Washington, just upriver from Richland, Brix said. Financing for that project is largely arranged with the FEED completed.

Brix owns a majority of the company with his father.

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