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Electrolysis start-up seeking seed money

A two-man hydrogen electrolysis and storage startup based in the southeastern US is seeking an equity investment from a strategic or venture capital investor.

Green Fuel, an early-stage hydrogen technology start-up, is seeking USD 2m in seed money from a strategic or venture capital investor to get its technology off the ground, CFO William Green said in an interview.

The Alabama LLC is comprised of the two founders: Green and inventor Gordon Marsh. Green is based in Missouri.

A patented electrolysis and storage tank system (200 psi) is currently being used for grilling on site of storage, Green said. That prototype application could be scaled up, but the company is interested in pursuing licensing applications in HVAC, fuel cell vehicles, and methanol production.

Green Fuel said in a news release that the atmospheric pressuring system can reduce the cost of hydrogen by 60% by eliminating the need for transportation and compression.

The technology can be scaled to on-site production and tank storage of between 5,000 psi and 10,000 psi, Green said. Proving out that use case is part of the investment need.

“This is a real world solution,” Green said of the invention, which addresses problems in hydrogen transportation and storage. The company is also presenting its technology to the military.

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NuScale Power, Shell to research hydrogen production from modular nuclear reactor

NuScale, Shell, and industry participants will assess a concept for an energy system for hydrogen production using small modular reactor technology.

Portland, Oregon-based NuScale Power, LLC (NuScale) along with Shell Global Solutions (Shell) and industry participants will develop and assess a concept for an economically optimized Integrated Energy System (IES) for hydrogen production using electricity and process heat from a NuScale VOYGR™ small modular reactor (SMR) power plant, according to a press release.

The project, entitled, “Development and Demonstration of a Concept for an Economically Optimized IES,” will be completed in two phases. Additional research participants include Idaho National Laboratory, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), Fuel Cell Energy, FPoliSolutions, and GSE Solutions.

NuScale’s flexible SMR technology holds the potential to balance and stabilize power grids dominated by renewable energies through hydrogen production, the release states. Energy markets present reliability concerns at times when energy demand is high and renewable energy production is low. In these markets, hydrogen would be used as an end-product or as a stored energy source to be processed through a Reversible Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (RSOFC) for electricity generation.

“Hydrogen has been identified as a pathway for global decarbonization and NuScale’s SMR technology complements this goal through low carbon hydrogen production,” said John Hopkins, NuScale Power president and chief executive officer.

A NuScale control room simulator will be modified to evaluate the dynamics of the IES and will include models for the Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell (SOEC) system for hydrogen production, in addition to a RSOFC for electricity production. The research will consider the number of NuScale Power Modules™ needed for use in SOEC hydrogen production and the quantity of hydrogen stored for subsequent electricity production. Further, local economic factors from the UAMPS Carbon Free Power Project will be assessed, such as the impact in the Western Energy Imbalance Market, resource adequacy programs, and other local market factors to be defined.

“We are pleased to join this collaboration, which is in line with our efforts to explore technologies that have the potential to enable decarbonization and support the energy transition,” said Dirk Smit, vice president of research strategy at Shell.

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Hyundai Motor North America appoints head of commercial vehicle and hydrogen business development

Jim Park will be responsible for Hyundai’s hydrogen initiatives in North America, which includes commercial vehicle sales, infrastructure development, commercialization of hydrogen, and related future mobility solutions.

Hyundai has hired Jim Park as the senior vice president, commercial vehicle and hydrogen business development, Hyundai Motor North America, effective June 12, according to a news release.

In this new role, Park is responsible for Hyundai’s hydrogen initiatives in North America, which includes commercial vehicle sales, infrastructure development, commercialization of hydrogen, and related future mobility solutions.

Park reports directly to José Muñoz, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America and president and Global COO of Hyundai Motor Company, and functionally via dotted-line to Ken Ramirez, executive vice president, head of global commercial vehicle and hydrogen business, Hyundai Motor Company.

“Hyundai is committed to accelerating the development of hydrogen technology as it provides a scalable zero-emissions solution for a variety of applications,” said Muñoz. “Jim’s extensive career in automotive business development will help us build the team and obtain the tools and resources we need to continue our hydrogen expansion in North America.”

Park has more than three decades of experience in the automotive industry with leadership roles at both Harman-Samsung and Chrysler. Prior to joining Hyundai, Park was president of Harman International Korea, where he initiated strategies for its automotive business units and Samsung’s Automotive Electronic Business. He managed and led four divisions including connected car, car audio, consumer electronics and professional solutions, and oversaw respective KPI’s such as sales revenue growth, market share, cost management, compliance, and employee development.

Before joining Harman International, Park was the president and CEO of Global Auto Systems, an advisory and consulting services company he formed in 2000, a role he held until 2018. In nearly two decades, his group of consultants worked with leaders and top decision makers around the world providing in-depth industry insights, product, market knowledge and strategic perspectives. Park also previously served on the Board of Governors for the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea.

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SAF developer planning Kansas facility

Azure is targeting a final investment decision by early 2025.

Azure 2023 Inc., a SAF developer, is planning development of a production facility in Cherryvale, Kansas.

Since June 2023, Azure has been progressing a FEED study, which is on track for completion in 2024.

Azure is targeting a final investment decision by early 2025; if approved, the company is targeting to reach first production in 2027, according to a news release.

The facility would use commercially proven technology, allowing for efficiency in speed to market and future expansion. Once fully operational, the facility will produce approximately 135 million gallons per year of renewable fuels, primarily SAF. The use of Azure’s SAF will reduce global aviation emissions by approximately 1 million tons per year, equivalent to removing emissions from roughly 200,000 cars annually.

Azure has received significant support from the local government. On December 18, the Montgomery County Commission approved various tax incentives to help support the project. These incentives include a 10-year property tax exemption and an exemption on sales tax on construction materials and labor.

Azure’s goal of producing SAF with the lowest emissions is further supported through an executed letter of intent with CapturePoint Solutions to explore the opportunity to tie-in to its existing and operating carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration network and infrastructure.

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Ammonia-to-industrial heat provider raising early-stage capital

An early-stage technology provider targeting clients in hard-to-abate industries is engaging investors and financial advisors to raise a seed round, with sites on a Series A in 2025.

Captain Energy, a Houston-based provider of ammonia-to-industrial heat technology, is seeking strategic investors for an early-stage seed round with plans for an eventual Series A, co-founder and interim-CEO Kirk Coburn said in an interview.

The company is developing a single-step process that can create industrial heat from cracked ammonia up to 700 degrees Celsius with zero NOX emissions, with hydrogen as a byproduct, Coburn said. The process uses a ceramic-based tubular solid oxide fuel cell that Captain manufactures in Dundee, Scotland.

“The results from the testing are that we’re 85% efficient,” Coburn said.

He likened the company to Amogy, but serving steel, cement and chemicals instead of transportation. Getting the kind of high-quality heat those industries need in a clean way can only come from a few sources, he noted.
“Ammonia is one of the greatest ways to do it if you can crack it efficiently like we can,” he said.
Past lab

The company is “past the lab stage” and needs to develop a pilot product to showcase to customers, Coburn said. About $5m will get the company to a 100-kilogram-per-day product, up from 25 kilograms now.

“That’s not, probably, big enough for most customers, but we can stack them,” Coburn said. “At this point we need to demonstrate commercially the product… after showcasing it we want to make larger units.”

Captain is owned by three co-founders, including Coburn. They have an 18-month line of site on a “much larger” Series A, Coburn said.

Strategic investors that would be end users of the technology are of interest to the company, particularly in Asian and European markets.

“We’re not getting in the game of making ammonia,” Coburn said. “We have to buy green ammonia.”

The company’s model is at “grid-parity” in Europe now, Coburn said, pointing to Germany in particular.

“We think we’re almost at subsidy-free pricing,” he said.

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Exclusive: Plug Power enlists bank to evaluate financing options

The cash-burning company is working with a bulge-bracket American bank to evaluate debt financing options to help stave off a liquidity crisis.

Plug Power is working with Goldman Sachs to evaluate a capital raise in the form of debt financing to shore up its balance sheet, sources said.

The New York-based company recently said it was at risk of a liquidity crisis in the next 12 months if it is not able to raise additional capital, noting it was exploring various options for bringing in financing.

Its total cash and cash equivalents as of September 30 stood at $567m, representing a decline of $580m for the quarter, according to SEC filings. The company also has nearly $1bn of restricted cash balances stemming from sale-leaseback transactions, of which $50m becomes available per quarter.

In a shareholder letter and on its 3Q23 earnings call, executives outlined the financing options that are on the table for the company, including a debt raise, funding from the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, and bringing in project equity partners for its facilities.

The company is “evaluating varied debt financing solutions to support [its] growth,” according to the shareholder letter. CFO Paul Middleton added on the call that they’ve had “some expressions of offers for ABL-like facilities” as well as restricted cash advance facilities. 

CEO Andy Marsh said the company would need to raise between $500m – $600m, according to a news report from Barron’s.

Representatives of Plug Power and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Plug is also working towards a conditional commitment from the DOE Loan Program Office to finance plants in its green hydrogen network. 

“The framework that we’re working on with them is a $1.5bn platform that would fund our green plants and would fund from construction phase onwards,” CFO Middleton said, adding that the funding could amount to as much as 80% of the projects. 

Middleton said he expected the DOE loan, if granted, would start funding in early 2Q24, and could even be used to back lever some of its existing plants in Texas and New York.

The company’s stock traded today with a $2.34bn market cap, while its outstanding debt consists of a $200m convertible note issued in 2020.

The notes traded around 130 cents of par before Plug’s going concern announcement, and subsequently dropped to trade in the high-70s, with quotes this week in the 80s.

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Exclusive: Mississippi green hydrogen developer assembling banks for debt raise

The developer of a potentially massive network of green hydrogen production, transport and salt cavern storage — estimated to cost billions — is seeking banks to support a project debt raise.

Hy Stor, the developer of hydrogen generation and salt cavern storage, is currently raising “billions” in project finance for the first phase of its home state hub in Mississippi, Chief Commercial Officer Claire Behar said in an interview.

The first phase is expected to enter commercial service in 2026, guided by customers, Behar said.

Connor Clark & Lunn are equity partners in the Mississippi hub and is helping Hy Stor with its debt raise. Hy Stor is working with King & Spalding as legal advisor.

“We are already seeking banks and lining up our needed debt,” Behar said. She declined to say a precise amount the company will raise but said it will be in the billions.

Hy Stor plans to soon announce their renewable development partner to build dedicated off grid renewables, Behar said. The same is true for offtake in non-intermittent 24-hour industries like steel, plastic and fertilizer manufacturing.

“The customers are willing to pay that twenty-to-thirty percent premium that the market would need,” Behar said. “The business case is there.”

When asked if traditionally carbon intensive industrial manufacturing interests were actively seeking to co-locate with Hy Stor in Mississippi, Behar said the company has been advancing those agreements and hopes to have announcements soon. 
There is evidence of this type of activity in the state. Recently American steel manufacturer Steel Dynamics announced Columbus, Mississippi as the location of its upcoming aluminum flat rolled millwith a focus on decarbonization. Job postings for engineering roles at a separate facility detail plans to convert biomass into a direct carbon replacement suitable for steelmaking. 

Hy Stor hopes to have announcements in the coming weeks about a co-location opportunity, she added. Both domestic and international strategics are interested in the geology offering co-located salt cavern storage and geography offering river and deepwater port logistics networks, as well as highway and rail corridors.

Off-grid renewable generation means the company is not at the mercy of transmission interconnection queues. It also offers reliability because the lack of grid adage helps guarantee performance, and affordability because the company doesn’t have to pay utility rates, Behar said. Additionally, the electricity is decoupled from the grid and therefore absolutely decoupled from fossil fuels, which is important to Hy Stor’s prospective offtakers.

“This is what customers are demanding,” Behar said, adding that first movers are highly dedicated to decarbonization, needing quantitative accounting for all scope emissions, driven often by pressure from their customers.

The company has received a permit to take 11,000 gallons per minute of unpotable water from the Leaf River in Mississippi, Behar said, and is also looking at in-house wastewater treatment and water recycling.

Don’t go after gray users

Behar said the concept that users of gray hydrogen are the first targets for green hydrogen developers is misguided.

“The refineries, the petrochemicals, for them hydrogen is an end product already used within their system,” Behar said. “Those are not going to be the first users that are going to pay us a premium for that zero carbon.”

Hy Stor is instead focusing on new greenfield facilities that can co-locate.

“We’ve purposefully outsized our acreage,” she said of the 70,000 acres the company has purchased outside of Jackson, Mississippi, the Mississippi River Corridor, and the state’s southern deepwater ports in Gulfport and Port Bienville. New industrial projects can co-locate and have direct access to the salt cavern storge.

Looking forward the company’s acreage and seven salt domes mean they are not constrained by storage, Behar said. At each location, the company can develop tens and hundreds of caverns.

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