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CF Industries commissioning green ammonia facility, moving blue projects forward

CF Industries is commissioning a green ammonia production facility at its Donaldsonville, Louisiana complex, and plans to seek premium-paying offtakers in three areas: SAF-ethanol projects, food companies, and Europeans. It is also moving forward on a slate of blue ammonia projects with Japanese and Korean partners.

US fertilizer producer CF Industries is in the process of commissioning a green ammonia production facility that it calls the first commercial-scale plant of its kind in the US, and has completed a FEED study with cost estimates for a proposed blue ammonia facility through a JV with Mitsui.

The electrolysis system at the Donaldsonville complex is mechanically complete and commissioning is underway for the green ammonia facility, the company said, which at full capacity will produce approximately 20,000 tons of green ammonia per year.

“We are currently evaluating the purchase of renewable energy credits to pair with the startup of the electrolyzer to enable green ammonia production and maximize the value of the 45V production tax credit,” EVP and COO Chris Bohn said in prepared remarks.

Asked about natural buyers for the green ammonia product, EVP Bert Frost responded, “The volume of product that we will be producing could be digestible in a vessel, which could go to Europe. We’re working with some of the ethanol producers for a low-carbon corn value chain, which we believe will lead then to sustainable aviation fuel and low-carbon fuel products. We’re talking to some of the food companies and some of their labeling ventures.”

Mitsui JV

The company has completed a FEED study for its greenfield blue ammonia project with Mitsui, but is conducting additional studies in order to evaluate the specific carbon intensity of various technology options.

The 1-million-ton-per-year blue ammonia project, proposed for CF’s Blue Point complex in Ascension Parish, would result in a cost of approximately $2.5bn, plus an additional $500m for scalable infrastructure, such as storage tanks and loading docks, executives said today.

“We completed our feed study on a conventional steam methane reformer ammonia plant with CCS technologies,” Bohn said, noting that the company is continuing a feed study focused on auto thermal reforming, or ATR, ammonia production technology, and has added a study on flue gas capture.

For ATR technology, CEO Tony Will said, estimates show a 90 to 95% reduction level of CO2, “but the problem with that is because the way that the technology works, you have to have a very, very large air separation unit to introduce the nitrogen back into the process that you don’t get because you’re not doing steam methane reforming. And the electricity draw on a large air seperation unit like that is a tremendous adder to the cost of the project as well as operational cost,” he said. 

“And based on the grids where we’re thinking about, the scope two emissions become substantial,” Will added, noting that the company is evaluating all possible paths forward to offer solutions depending on the carbon intensity levels that are ultimately demanded by customers.

The company anticipates having greater clarity on the demand picture for low-carbon ammonia later this year, which, in addition to the further FEED studies, should allow for a final investment decision in 2H24. In announcing the JV, the parties said they would reach FID in 2023.

More blue

CF has a full slate of JVs for potential blue ammonia projects. In addition to Mitsui, the company also has agreements in place with JERA Co., Korean steelmaker POSCO, and Korean chemical maker LOTTE for potential projects.

“I would say the Korean government and the customers as a result are a little bit behind from a timeline perspective compared to the Japanese,” Will said, “and so we’ll likely be making a decision around a plant, principally targeting the Japanese market first, and then we’ll eventually look at both the Korean market and potentially European partners that we’ve discussed with as well.”

CF is also installing a CO2 dehydration and compression unit at its Donaldsonville fertilizer coplex, which executives said will be ready for startup in 2025. Once in service, the unit will enable up to 2 million tons of captured process CO2 to be transported and permanently stored by its partner, ExxonMobil. “This will enable low-carbon ammonia production and generate substantial 45Q tax credits,” Bohn said in his remarks.

CF is bullish on blue ammonia as it makes economic sense even without 45Q, said Will, who added that the net benefit to the company from the Donaldsonville Blue Ammonia Project is roughly $100m annually.

“So just on the face of it that’s a great investment for us,” Will added. “Now, that said, we have had ever increasing interest levels in blue ammonia from a variety of different constituents, including a number of our existing customers, but also some other folks that have reached out.”

“And so based on a relatively small volume of decarbonized or blue ammonia that’s going to be available, principally just from us beginning in 2025, and the appetite in the marketplace, we absolutely believe that it’s going to be a commodity in scarce supply relative to the appetite for it, and so willl carry with it a premium in the marketplace just on the basis of supply and demand.”

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TPG-backed Ohmium to collaborate with Aguastill to produce GH2 from seawater

The parties will collaborate on a new application of sustainable desalination technology powered using waste heat to enable expansion of green hydrogen production.

Ohmium International, a leading green hydrogen company that designs, manufactures, and deploys advanced Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolyzers, today announced a strategic collaboration with Aquastill, one of the leaders in modular membrane distillation technology that uses the sustainable power of waste heat for desalination.

The companies said today that the collaboration will enable Ohmium to use desalinated seawater as an input in green hydrogen production.

By integrating Aquastill’s desalination capabilities with Ohmium’s modular green hydrogen electrolyzers, the collaboration will create new decarbonization opportunities for businesses operating in coastal areas by providing a more efficient, sustainable and affordable way of producing clean energy.

In addition, the innovative integration of modular desalination units will facilitate new applications for cost-effective green hydrogen production, including co-locating PEM electrolyzers with offshore wind farms, to enable the production of green hydrogen at-source. Ohmium and Aquastill have begun assessing optimal integration of these technologies, with the intention of having these fine-tuned modules commercially available as soon as possible.

Headquartered in the United States, with manufacturing facilities in India and operations worldwide, Ohmium has a global green hydrogen project pipeline of more than 1.8 GW across three continents. In 2023, Ohmium raised $250 Million in Series C financing, led by TPG Rise Climate.

“This strategic collaboration is a great example of how the innovative integration of Ohmium and Aquastill’s technologies can enable the expansion of green hydrogen production to new sectors and geographies,” said Arne Ballantine, CEO of Ohmium International. “Utilizing Aquastill’s membrane technology to efficiently produce green hydrogen from seawater has the potential to be a game changer for companies operating in coastal or rural regions that want to affordably and sustainably decarbonize.”

Aquastill’s technology is powered by the residual heat from Ohmium’s electrolyzers and the membrane distillation process simultaneously provides additional cooling capabilities for the electrolyzer. Unlike other energy intensive desalination technologies, the waste heat membrane-based distillation process has minimal energy requirements. These advanced desalination modules feature a modular and compact system design, making them easily transportable to wherever clean water is needed.

“We are excited to be working with Ohmium, to successfully pair their cutting-edge PEM electrolyzers with our membrane distillation technology – providing an ideal platform to expand the transformational impact of green hydrogen production to other industries,” said Bart Nelemans, CEO of Aquastill“We have already begun to test the integration of our respective technologies, and we are confident that as a result of this joint collaboration we will be able to produce cost-competitive green hydrogen from seawater, while simultaneously helping decarbonize the operations of companies operating in coastal regions.”

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New JV to provide H2-blending solutions to gas utilities

Progressus Clean Technologies and Alkaline Fuel Cell Power have entered into a JV for a H2-blending pilot project for natural gas utilities.

Progressus Clean Technologies and Alkaline Fuel Cell Power have entered into a JV for a H2-blending pilot project for natural gas utilities, according to a news release.

The JV is intended to combine Progressus technologies with AFCP fuel cells to serve residential and small building customers across North America. PowerTap Hydrogen owns 49% of Progress.

Gas distribution companies and municipalities are setting-up projects to inject hydrogen into the local gas distribution grid.; generally up to 20% hydrogen.

The project is designed to use the Progressus hydrogen separation technology to efficiently extract hydrogen at high purities from the existing natural gas grid, and then convert the purified hydrogen using either AFCP’s 4 kW Micro-CHP or 4 kW generator to produce electricity, and potentially heat. This project could be put to immediate use in a residential home or commercial building, providing truly zero-emission power. AFCP has already identified interest from natural gas and electric utilities and municipalities to pilot the concept.

The exact location of the JV pilot project remains under consideration but, initially, North America will be the focus with secondary priority given to potential future pilots in Europe.

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NextEra leads Series A round for DAC start-up

NextEra has led a $36m Series A funding round for a start-up that’s developing hybrid direct air capture technology.

Avnos, Inc. (Avnos), the Los Angeles-based company developing novel Hybrid Direct Air Capture (HDAC) technology for carbon dioxide removal, has closed $36 million in Series A funding, according to a news release.

Avnos will use the new funds to grow its world-class team, deploy additional HDAC assets across North America and Europe, and open a new, state-of-the-art research and development facility located just outside New York City.

NextEra Energy, one of America’s largest utilities and investors in clean energy infrastructure, led the round. Other investors include Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. The funding supplements Avnos’ previously announced capital raises and strategic commercial agreements with Shell Ventures, ConocoPhilips, JetBlue Ventures and the Grantham Foundation, as well as pilot projects with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

Avnos has pioneered HDAC using proprietary materials and processes to capture both carbon dioxide and water simultaneously from the atmosphere, according to a news release. The process eliminates the need for external heat input and produces approximately 5 tons of water for every 1 ton of carbon dioxide captured. Avnos’ resource-intelligent technology means lower impact on and expanded employment opportunities for the communities surrounding HDAC facilities.

“At Avnos, we believe our novel HDAC technology is the world’s best shot at reaching the much-needed gigaton scale of carbon dioxide removal,” said Will Kain, CEO of Avnos. “We feel the urgency to roll out HDAC more broadly so as to deliver on the enormous, positive climate and economic opportunities in front of us. With this substantial funding, Avnos continues to expand its unparalleled roster of partners supporting our rapid acceleration.”

The new, multi-million-dollar research and development facility, equipped with best-in-class equipment and infrastructure, will enable Avnos to accelerate the pace of scaling the company’s HDAC technology while ensuring its systems continue to operate at peak performance. The 20,000 square foot facility will be fully operational in February 2024 and will employ an estimated 20 new employees.

“Our state-of-the-art lab underscores our mission to push the frontiers of innovation and deliver scalable and efficient carbon removal solutions,” said Ben McCool, Senior VP of Technology at Avnos. “As we expand our dynamic technical team, I’m proud to cultivate a collaborative environment that brings together top-notch talent, actively shaping and advancing the cutting-edge technologies driving Avnos towards impactful solutions.”

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exclusive

See all 79 DOE hydrogen hub applicants

The list, obtained by this publication, shows whether projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ to submit a final application.

The complete list of 79 applicants to the US Department of Energy’s hydrogen hub funding opportunity includes previously unreported projects from oil majors and renewable energy giants.

The list, obtained by this publication via a FOIA request, shows whether or not projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ by the DOE to submit a final application before the April 7, 2023 deadline. The program is expected to offer $8bn in federal funding for six to 10 clean hydrogen hubs, with no single project receiving more than $1.25bn. A decision of funding recipients is expected this fall.

Over nearly nine months, the DOE FOIA office was unwilling to send information about the initial 79 applications that were submitted last year, citing confidential materials in the concept papers. The resulting list is therefore scant in details, showing only the name of the project and the lead entity.

While many of the concepts have been publicly announced by proponents, several major projects that have not been reported previously appear on the list: among others, ExxonMobil was encouraged to apply for funding for a project called “Hydrogen Liftoff Hub”; and NextEra has a “Southeast Hydrogen Network” project, which was also encouraged to apply.

The full list of project names and proponents has been added to The Hydrogen Source’s project database, which now showcases over 370 projects in North America, including hydrogen, ammonia, and sustainable aviation fuel as well as eFuels, carbon capture, direct air capture, and more.

The full database is available only to paid subscribers. Simply click over to the database and select the “DOE applicants” filter for the full list.

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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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Exclusive: Middle market flagship fund to target e-fuels, renewables

A new $1.5bn US-focused flagship fund focused on middle market companies is in discussions with new and existing LPs now and will consider e-fuels and other sustainable molecules in its deployment.

Energy Impact Partners, the New York-based investment firm, is in discussions with new and existing LPs to raise a $1.5bn flagship fund focused on the middle market, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The raise is being done without a financial advisor, the sources said. Once complete, it will target platforms and assets in the $40m to $50m range.

While the fund will be broadly focused on renewables, e-fuels and other sustainable fuels companies will be considered, one of the sources said.

The investment manager has invested in clean fuels via equity positions in Electric Hydrogen, Terragia and Metafuels, among others.

EIP did not respond to requests for comment.

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