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Cryo storage tech startup completes strategic fundraise

The new funding will enable Verne to accelerate development of their cryo-compressed hydrogen technology for on-board hydrogen storage for heavy-duty vehicles.

Verne, a developer of high-density hydrogen storage systems, has completed a strategic fundraise led by Trucks Venture Capital, with participation from existing investors Collaborative Fund and Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, and new investors United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund and Newlab.

The new funding will enable Verne to accelerate development of their cryo-compressed hydrogen (CcH2) technology for on-board hydrogen storage for heavy-duty vehicles. The investment brings Verne’s total funding to $15.5m including grant funding, according to a news release.

Heavy-duty transportation is responsible for 12% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Regulations such as California’s Advanced Clean Fleets and corporate “net zero” commitments necessitate a transition to zero-emission vehicles. However, large energy requirements and the importance of total cost of ownership make it difficult for fleets to transition from diesel to zero-emission technologies that currently involve costly performance tradeoffs. Existing Class 8 Battery Electric trucks provide limited range (~200 miles vs. 1,000 miles for a diesel truck), weigh 5,000–10,000 pounds more than a diesel truck (reducing payload available to haul cargo by 5-15%), and take over two hours to refuel. Hydrogen is the best solution to decarbonize vehicles that need to travel long distances or carry a heavy payload as it provides range, weight, and refueling advantages over battery electric trucks, but current hydrogen trucks still fall short of diesel-truck performance.

Since its founding in 2020, Verne has been dedicated to solving this challenge by developing high-density hydrogen storage that allows these vehicles to reach diesel-equivalent range and payload. Verne’s cryo-compressed hydrogen technology involves cooling and compressing hydrogen to achieve the maximum hydrogen density at 73 g/L internal density, a 33% improvement over liquid hydrogen and an 87% improvement over traditional 700 bar compressed gas hydrogen. The increased density leads to greater range and payload: Verne’s technology enables semi-trucks to achieve diesel-equivalent range, or over 900 miles, without adding any weight to the system.

“Verne’s technology will have a direct positive impact on commercial vehicles on road and in the air. High-density hydrogen is a powerful solution for large vehicles and aligns with our mission of backing the most aggressive climate-positive ideas for transportation,” said Jeffrey Schox, general partner at Trucks Venture Capital.

“Amazon views cryo-compression as a promising hydrogen storage solution,” said Nick Ellis, a principal at Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund. “We believe cryo-compression can provide economic and operational advantages that will play an important role in the transition to zero-emission fleets.”

“Heavy-duty vehicles like semi-trucks and cargo handling equipment are vital to the functioning of our economy, but they are also some of the worst polluters. Verne is motivated to provide zero-emission solutions that don’t require these critical industries to make costly performance trade-offs,” said Ted McKlveen, co-founder & CEO of Verne. “Bringing on new strategic investors, and strengthening our partnership with existing investors, will help us accelerate our path to market and decarbonize this critical industry.”

Last year, Verne announced a CcHstorage record during stationary demonstration of a 29 kg storage tank at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Verne also completed the first testing of their CcH2 storage system on-board a vehicle as part of their participation in the Breakthrough Energy Fellows program. This on-vehicle testing validated the performance of all sub-systems – including direct integration with the vehicles’ fuel cell – and confirmed the improved hydrogen density relative to the standard 700 bar compressed gas hydrogen storage method. These technical results prepare Verne to meet the significant commercial interest they are receiving from key trucking fleets and OEMs, as well as leading partners across aviation, ports, mining and hydrogen distribution & refueling.

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Centrica and Equinor exploring development of UK hydrogen hub

Centrica is also advancing plans to convert its Rough offshore gas storage facility off England’s coat for hydrogen storage.

Centrica and Equinor have signed a cooperation agreement to explore developing a low-carbon hydrogen production hub at Easington in East Yorkshire, according to a press release.

The Centrica-operated area at Easington could transition to a low carbon hydrogen production hub over the coming decade. Currently up to one third of the UK’s total gas supply enters via Easington, much of it from Equinor’s Norwegian facilities. Easington is also situated close to large offshore wind farms.

The area is also earmarked as a landing point for the East Coast Cluster’s carbon capture pipeline, which would transport CO2 for storage deep under the seabed. It is a key location within the Zero Carbon Humber partnership which is planned to provide regional hydrogen and CO2 pipelines between the area’s major energy producers and carbon intensive industries.

Centrica is also advancing plans to convert its Rough offshore gas storage facility for hydrogen storage as part of its transition to a net zero future.

The UK government recently doubled its 2030 hydrogen production ambition to 10GW capacity, with at least half coming from electrolytic ‘green’ hydrogen. Equinor has ambitions to deliver nearly one fifth of this national target by generating 1.8 GW of hydrogen production within the Humber region by 2028, beginning with its flagship H2H Saltend project.

Centrica and Equinor expect that the conversion of the Easington Terminal could produce an additional 1GW of low carbon hydrogen production coupled with the around 200MW off-taker demand.

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Tree Energy Solutions and EWE building electrolyzer in Wilhelmshaven

The electrolzser, to be installed and operated starting in 2028, has a planned total capacity of 1 GW at the hub on the North Sea coast.

Tree Energy Solutions and German utility EWE are signing an MoU to build an electrolyzer in TES’ Green Energy Hub in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, according to a press release.

The electrolzser, to be installed and operated starting in 2028, has a planned total capacity of 1 GW.

The hub in Wilhelmshaven is on the North Sea coast and can accommodate up to 2 GW capacity electrolyzers with renewable energy sources such as offshore wind.

In October Tree Energy Solutions agreed to terms for Fortescue Future industries to make an equity investment of EUR 30m to become a strategic shareholder in TES, and to invest EUR 100m for a stake in the construction of the import terminal in Wilhelmshaven. Before that the Belgium-based company concluded its second fundraising round at EUR 65m.

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JERA commences ammonia co-firing tests

JERA and IHI will seek to establish technology for the use of fuel ammonia in thermal power generation with a view toward mainstreaming in society by March 2025.

JERA Co. and IHI Corporation today began a demonstration of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution at a commercial coal-fired thermal power plant.

The testing will be carried out at JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station in Hekinan City through June 2024.

Since October 2022, JERA and IHI have been moving forward in constructing the burners, tank, vaporizer, piping, and other facilities necessary for demonstration testing fuel ammonia substitution at JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station.

IHI has developed a test burner based on the results of small-volume testing of fuel ammonia at the power station’s Unit 5, and JERA has prepared safety measures and an operational framework for the use of fuel ammonia at the power station.

With such preparations in place, the demonstration testing of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution began today at the power station’s Unit 4. The demonstration testing will look at characteristics of the plant overall, investigating nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and confirming factors such as operability and the impact on boilers and ancillary equipment.

JERA and IHI, by addressing issues raised through the demonstration testing, will seek to establish technology for the use of fuel ammonia in thermal power generation with a view toward mainstreaming in society by March 2025, according to a news release.

Based on the current demonstration testing, JERA will begin commercial operation of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution (20% of heating value) at Unit 4 of JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station. By establishing the technology for ammonia substitution, JERA will offer a clean energy supply platform that combines renewable energy with low-carbon thermal power, contributing to the healthy growth and development of Asia and the world.

In addition to steadily carrying out the current demonstration testing, IHI will apply the knowledges gained through the Project to establish technology for high-ratio combustion of 50% ammonia or more at thermal power plants and to develop burners for 100% ammonia combustion, deploying the results of the demonstration testing to other thermal power plants in Japan and overseas will contribute to global decarbonization through fuel ammonia.

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Hydrogen technology firm hires advisor for capital raise

A firm with a technology to produce green hydrogen from sunlight without electrolysis is prepping a capital raise.

BoMax Hydrogen, a Florida-based hydrogen technology firm, is preparing to launch a capital raise later this month, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Boutique advisory firm Taylor DeJongh has been retained to run the process, the sources said. Teasers will likely go out in two weeks.

BoMax is seeking to raise around $15m in a Series A round, the sources added.

The company touts e a novel technology making hydrogen from visible light without the need for solar electrolysis, according to a pre-teaser marketing document seen by ReSource. An alpha prototype has been awarded by the US Department of Energy.

The technology, which does not require rare earth minerals, produces hydrogen at point of need and has been reviewed by scientists at Utah State University.

To date the company has raised about $5m, one of the sources said. That came mostly from friends and family and one Japanese investor.

Funds from the Series A will be used to make a beta prototype, scale operations at the company’s labs in Orlando and prepare for commercial production.

BoMax and Taylor DeJonghe did not respond to requests for comment.

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Exclusive: Appalachian biogas firm seeking project debt

An RNG developer based in Appalachia with projects across the US is seeking project debt financing.

Northern Biogas, the West Virginia-based developer and operator of anaerobic digester and RNG facilities, is independently seeking debt for its project pipeline, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Backed by HIG Capital, Northern Biogas serves diary, landfill, food waste and municipal projects. The company has raised some $200m in debt with assistance from alternative energy finance provider Pathward National Association, one source said. Project debt has typically been raised in tranches of $20m to $30m for individual projects.

Northern Biogas’ portfolio includes five dairy farm projects under construction in Wisconsin and one in Michigan, according to the company’s website. The company has a presence in Texas and Colorado as well.

Representatives of the company did not respond to requests for comment.
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Cutting the electricity out of electrolysis

Milwaukee-based start-up Advanced Ionics is seeking to commercialize an electrolyzer that cuts electricity needs for hydrogen production to as low as 30 kWh per kilogram.

Advanced Ionics is seeking to ramp manufacturing capacity and raise capital as it begins to commercialize an electrolyzer promising to reduce electricity needs, CEO Chad Mason said in an interview.

The Milwaukee-based company is working to demonstrate its low-cost electrolyzer technology through a partnership with the Repsol Foundation.

The technology will be tested locally, but could grow to include additional tests and, eventually, a commercial relationship with the Spain-based energy and petrochemical company.

Advanced Ionics is looking to move into a larger facility in Milwaukee to advance early-stage production of the electrolyzer, which uses steam from process and waste heat to reduce the amount of electricity required in electrolysis.

The company last year raised $4.2m in a seed round led by Clean Energy Ventures, with participation from SWAN Impact Network. It has also received financial support from Repsol and $500,000 from the DOE.

As it scales, Mason said, the company will also need to raise additional capital, but he declined further comment.

Going to market

The Repsol arrangement is part of the company’s early access program allowing potential end users to take a first look at the technology.

“Repsol is just the tip of the iceberg here,” Mason said. “We’re talking to some really amazing partners at some of the largest energy companies in the world. People who use hydrogen today and want to make it green immediately understand what we’re doing.”

Given the concentration of hydrogen use in petrochemicals and ammonia, Advanced Ionics is targeting these sectors for deployment of its electrolyzers to produce clean hydrogen, Mason added.

Mason noted that, as the traditional petrochemical industry dies off over time, it will be replaced by green materials and green fuels like sustainable aviation fuel and biofuels that require hydrogenation to be useable.

“You’ll see a bit of a replacement happening on the petrochemical side, towards a green chemical,” he said, adding that a third potential key market is green steel production using hydrogen.

Thermodynamically favored

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’ water vapor electrolyzer

“We set out to build an electrolyzer specifically that would operate at intermediate temperatures,” he said. “And that allows you to have the synergy with those processes, and the downstream effect is the most cost-effective hydrogen you can get.”

The resulting hydrogen could be available for less than $1 per kg – but, Mason notes, the underlying power price math assumes an abundance of cheap, clean power. The models are usually pricing in two cents per kWh, the availability of which, Mason added, is “extremely geographically dependent.”

“If you’re in Texas, you have a system with wind, solar, and some amount of clean energy grid back-up, it’s pretty attractive,” he said. “Or if you hook up to a hydroelectric facility in the Northwest or in the Quebec area.”

Mason added, “Electrolysis rides on the coattails of cheap, clean electricity. What we have under our control is to make sure we’re using as little electricity as possible.”

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