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Exclusive: Emissions reduction technology firm in Series A capital raise

A technology start-up that uses plasma to reduce emissions from natural gas and methane flaring is seeking an additional $15m to top off its Series A capital raise. One of its principal products converts natural gas into hydrogen and usable graphene with no CO2 emissions.

Rimere, a climate solutions company with proprietary plasma technology, is seeking to raise an additional $15m as part of its ongoing Series A capital raise.

The start-up recently announced an anchor investment of $10m from Clean Energy Fuels Corp, a publicly listed renewable natural gas firm, and is pursuing further investments from strategics and financial players, with an eye on closing the round in 2Q24, CEO Mitchell Pratt said in an interview.

The company is not currently working with a financial advisor on the Series A capital raise, Pratt said. Its legal counsel is Morrison Foerster.

The anchor investment along with additional funds raised will allow Rimere to advance development and field testing of its two principal products, the Reformer and the Mitigator. 

The Mitigator is a plasma thermal oxidizer that reduces the greenhouse gas potency of small-scale fugitive methane emissions, while the Reformer transforms natural gas into clean hydrogen and usable graphene without creating any CO2 emissions.

The products are meant to work in tandem to decarbonize natural gas infrastructure and deliver cleaner gas to end users in transportation, power generation, and industry.

“We believe that, overall, what the technology does is revalue natural gas reserves and the long-term viability of natural gas for global future energy,” Pratt said.

Commercial strategy

Rimere will develop a commercial strategy throughout the course of this year for the Mitigator, and plans to deploy the product in the beginning of next year.

“We have quite a bit of interest for this as a solution because of the low cost of the product and the terrific results,” Pratt said, noting that the Mitigator removes CO2 for under $5 per metric ton.

In contrast, the Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022 introduced the Methane Emissions Reduction Program, a charge on methane emitted by oil and gas companies that report emissions under the Clean Air Act. The charge starts at $900 per metric ton of methane for calendar year 2024, increasing to $1,500 for 2026 and beyond.

To be sure, the Mitigator, as a thermal oxidizer, transforms methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas, into hydrogen, water, and CO2 for a net reduction of the global warming impact of 200 metric tons a year of CO2.

The Reformer, a container-style unit, is being scaled up to produce 50 kg per day of hydrogen from natural gas along with 150 kg of graphene, a marketable nano carbon where the CO2 is captured. Graphene is used in batteries, composites, medical devices, and concrete to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other applications.

Rimere plans to increase the scale of the Reformer to between 400 – 600 kg per day and raise additional funds next year, Pratt said. The amount of funds needed for that is not yet known, he said.

Pratt envisions an application for hydrogen blending using the two products.

“We see it as a way to decentralize hydrogen production, taking advantage of a cleaner natural gas infrastructure, because we’ve applied the Mitigator to cleaning up those fugitive methane emissions that are occurring in the normal operations of equipment,” Pratt said.

For example, Rimere can tap into a natural gas pipeline, take a slipstream of gas, extract the valuable graphene, and then re-inject hydrogen and natural gas back into the pipeline.

Additionally, the blending application can be positioned at an end-use customer’s facility, allowing the Reformer to start blending hydrogen into the gas stream, going into boilers and burners and reducing the CO2 emissions more effectively and immediately, Pratt said.

$1 per kg

Taking the average cost of delivered natural gas and power to industrial users, the company can already produce hydrogen at $1 per kilogram, Pratt said.

For every four kilograms of end-use product – one being hydrogen, the other three graphene – the energy cost allows hydrogen to be produced at or below $1 per kg.

“The last 12 months of running is less than a dollar,” he said, emphasizing that the graphene production is not subsidizing the hydrogen.

“Although the value of graphene could make hydrogen a throwaway fuel.”

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HY24 hires new managing director

The former head of EDF Pulse Ventures will head up Hy24’s latest investment initiative dedicated to scaling-up clean hydrogen technologies and equipment manufacturers.

Hy24, the hydrogen-focused French and American private equity JV, has hired Guillaume Lesueur as Managing Director, according to a news release.

Guillaume, former head of EDF Pulse Ventures, will head upHy24’s latest investment initiative dedicated to scaling-up clean hydrogen technologies and equipment manufacturers.  

Hy24 is a joint venture established in 2021 by FiveTHydrogen and Ardian. Its first fund – Clean Hydrogen Infrastructure, or “InfraFund” – is targeted at building out the hydrogen infrastructure market. The fund has raised EUR 2bn and has made four investments. More than 50 LPs are involved.

The new investment initiative led by Guillaume will focus on supporting the technology and equipment manufacturing capacities needed to meet the demand for hydrogen across the global supply chain, the release states.

“With over one thousand large-scale hydrogen projects announced worldwide as of the end of January 2023, demand for equipment far exceeds available supply capacity,” the release states. “From upstream to downstream, the manufacturing of hydrogen production, conversion, distribution, retail, storage, and end-use equipment therefore needs rapid acceleration.”

The equipment market is estimated to reach $190bn by 2030.

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US SAF producer targeting 1H24 monetization

Calumet Specialty Products subsidiary Montana Renewables – now the largest producer of sustainable aviation fuel in North America – has received interest for the business indicating valuations in excess of the entire company’s current enterprise value.

Calumet Specialty Products is expecting to close on a monetization of a minority equity stake by early 2024 in its Montana Renewables subsidiary, which is now the largest sustainable aviation fuel producer in North America.

The company has been exploring a monetization, including an IPO, of Montana Renewables with Lazard as an advisor since last year, and would use proceeds to deleverage the parent company. Executives said today they are speaking with bulge bracket banks regarding the timing of a potential IPO or minority stake sale.

“We continue to expect a potential monetization of Montana Renewables to complete the deleveraging of Calumet,” CEO Todd Borgman said in prepared remarks. “For some time we’ve discussed the possibility of a Montana Renewables IPO, private monetization, or even both. We continue to receive clear feedback: that Montana Renewables is a differentiated business, with transformational value potential to Calumet, well in excess of the entire company’s enterprise value.”

Calumet had engaged Lazard last year to conduct a process that culminated in a $250m investment in Montana Renewables from Warburg Pincus in August, 2022. The investment, in the form of a participating preferred equity security, valued Montana Renewables at a pre-commissioning enterprise value of $2.25bn.

The facility began making SAF shipments to Shell as an offtaker earlier this year.

In response to a question, Calumet executives pointed to the enterprise values of publicly traded energy transition companies, noting that Montana Renewables should align with that “at a minimum, if not get a premium for the competitive advantages that we’ve got, due to location, due to advanced pre-treater technology we’ve got, and due to the fact that we’re now North America’s largest SAF producer.”

Calumet’s equity trades at $15.80 per share and a $1.26bn market cap.

The company is evaluating an expansion of its SAF production at Montana Renewables and has purchased a second reactor and applied for a $600m loan from the DOE.

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Exclusive: Texas ammonia developer raising project capital

A developer of large-scale green ammonia projects is in the process of raising $2.5bn in equity and debt for a project in Texas, while also seeking a development partner for 1 GW of co-located renewable generation.

Avina Clean Hydrogen, the multi-faceted developer of green hydrogen and ammonia projects, is raising some $2.5bn in debt and equity for its green ammonia project in Nueces County, Texas, CEO Vishal Shah said in an interview.

The firm, which is based out of Short Hills, New Jersey, has hired an investment bank, Shah said, declining to name the advisor. The raise is targeting a variety of strategic and financial investors with a roughly 60/40 split between equity and debt for the 800,000 mtpy green ammonia facility outside of Corpus Christi, known as Nueces Green Ammonia.

Avina is advancing four more projects, in addition to Nueces Green Ammonia, which is slated for FID in 2Q24, Shah said.

California compressed green hydrogen project is approaching COD in the second half of this year; Avina Northern Illinois will reach FID this year; and additional projects in SAF and methanol are in the works.

The company is also in talks with renewables developers to supply 1 GW of renewable generation co-located with Nueces Green Ammonia.

“We are trying to bring a lot of these first-of-a-kind large scale projects to fruition,” Shah said. “There are more opportunities down the line for additional capital.”

Nueces Green Ammonia, a subsidiary of Avina, has applied for a water permit with the Water and Control District Three of Nueces County in Texas, a local official told ReSource.

The permit, for 4.5 million gallons per day of potable water and 1 million gallons per day of raw water, was recently filed with the office in Robstown, Texas, the official said. The company has also acquired land to the north of Robstown, Texas.

Corpus Christi city council members voted last week to approve a seawater desalination plant – producing 30 million gallons per day – that will be a critical source of water for the growing clean fuels industry in the region.

Avina, via Nueces Green Ammonia, filed for a separate permit to construct the facility with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

ReSource reported in April, 2023 that the company was auditioning advisors for a capital raise.

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Denbury to transport CO2 for Louisiana blue methanol project

A subsidiary of Denbury Inc. will transport and store CO2 for a planned blue methanol plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Denbury Carbon Solutions has executed a 20-year definitive agreement to provide CO2 transportation and storage services to Lake Charles Methanol in association with that company’s planned 3.6 MMPTA blue methanol project, according to a press release.

LCM’s facility will be located along the Calcasieu River near Lake Charles, Louisiana, approximately 10 miles from Denbury’s Green Pipeline.

The facility is designed to utilize Topsoe’s SynCORTM technology to convert natural gas into hydrogen which will be synthesized into methanol while incorporating carbon capture and sequestration.

The process is anticipated to deliver more than 500 million kilograms of hydrogen per year as a feedstock to produce the 3.6 MMTPA of blue methanol.

LCM is finalizing its major permits to begin construction. The project is expected to reach a Final Investment Decision in 2023 with first production anticipated in 2027.

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AEM electrolyzer startup conducting Series B capital raise

A maker of anion exchange membrane electrolyzers is undergoing a Series B capital raise.

Versogen, an electrolyzer startup, is conducting a Series B capital raise, with the aim of closing the round in the coming weeks, CFO Tim Krebs said in an interview.

The Delaware-based maker of anion exchange membrane electrolyzers is seeking to raise multiples of its Series A capital raise, Krebs said, which was a $14.5m round completed in May, 2022.

Proceeds from the Series B would allow the company to complete development of its AEM electrolyzer, a 1 MW modular hydrogen generation system, Krebs said. The company is not using a financial advisor.

The Series A funding round was led by Doosan Corporation and its affiliate HyAxiom. Other investors include The Chemours Company, TechEnergy Ventures, Wenstone H2Tech, TOP Ventures America, a CVC arm of Thai Oil Public Company Limited, DSC Investment and CN Innovations Investments Limited. 

Krebs, a former investment banker who has been the CFO of three energy technology companies, expects some existing investors will also participate in Versogen’s Series B round.

Versogen is led by co-founder and CEO Yushan Yan, an electrochemical engineer and inventor. The company touts a technology using low-cost construction materials like an alkaline electrolyzer but a more efficient production process akin to a membrane-based PEM electrolyzer.

Market dynamics

The capital raise is taking place amid a crowded field of electrolyzer startups looking to raise money in order to finalize designs and cement commercial opportunities.

Among others, Electric Hydrogen, a PEM electrolyzer startup, recently raised a $380m Series C; Verdagy raised a $73m Series B in August; and HyAxiom, a developer and manufacturer of fuel cell and electrolyzer solutions, completed a $150m private placement of convertible preferred stock in July.

At the same time, growth equity as well as Series A and Series B funding for climate tech dropped significantly through the first half of 2023.

Series A funding fell 36%, while Series B funding dropped 20% and growth equity investments fell by 64%, according to data from Climate Tech Venture Capital. Series C funding dropped by 72% in 1H23 compared to the same period last year, the same data shows.

Still, the market for electrolyzers is supported by undersupply as green hydrogen projects advance around the world.

James Bowe, a partner at King & Spalding who is advising on several large green hydrogen projects, said the three top manufacturers of electrolyzers are sold out for the next three to four years, potentially providing an opportunity for startups to fill the gap. Bowe made the comments yesterday during a panel at the Reuters North America Hydrogen conference in Houston.

Additionally, several catalysts for further electrolyzer demand are on the near-term horizon. The US Department of Energy is expected to announce the winners of up to $8bn in government funding for hydrogen hubs this week, while guidance from the IRS detailing rules to qualify for green hydrogen tax credits should be issued in the coming months.

Further clarity on government support for the hydrogen industry is expected to spur many projects toward final offtake arrangements and final investment decisions, experts say.

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Mitsubishi laying groundwork for additional equity raise

Mitsubishi Power Americas and its JV partners are preparing to raise additional equity for the ACES Delta project in Utah, as well as for other hydrogen developments in the Americas.

Mitsubishi Power Americas is conferring with its financial partners to raise equity from existing investors in the Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) Delta green hydrogen project in Utah, Senior Vice President, Investment and Business Development Ricky Sakai said in an interview.

Haddington Ventures formed Haddington ESP I and raised $650m in June 2022 from institutional investors to fund projects developed by ACES Delta, which is a joint venture between Mitsubishi Power Americas and Haddington portfolio company Magnum Development.

The investors — AIMCo, GIC, Manulife Financial Corporation, and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board — have additional rights to increase their collective investment to $1.5bn, according to a press release announcing the deal.

The first phase of the project in Utah will be to produce 100 tons of hydrogen per day. Once that is complete, existing investors can scale up their investment, Sakai said.

ACES Delta rendering

Mitsubishi is involved in several regional hydrogen hubs applying for funding from the US Department of Energy.

Hydrogen capable

Depending on how that $7bn is ultimately allocated, Mitsubishi is interested in replicating the Utah project in other regions, a source familiar with the company said.

MPA and Magnum recently closed on a $504.4m loan guarantee from the DOE for ACES Delta, electrolyzers for which will be supplied by Norway-based HydrogenPro.

ACES Delta will support the Intermountain Power Agency’s IPP Renewed Project — upgrading to an 840 MW hydrogen-capable gas turbine combined cycle power plant using Mitsubishi’s M501JAC gas turbines. The plant will initially run on a blend of 30% green hydrogen and 70% natural gas starting in 2025 and incrementally expand to 100% green hydrogen by 2045.

Mitsubishi is also supplying the hydrogen-capable gas turbines to Entergy’s Orange County Advanced Power Station; to an Alberta coal plant owned by Capital Power; and to J-Power’s Jackson Generation Project in Illinois, which reached commercial operations last year.

Mitsubishi Power

Investing in startups

Mitsubishi is doubling down on a strategy of investing in startup producers and technology in renewable fuels, Sakai said.

Recent investments in the space include: C-Zero, a drop-in decarbonization tech startup in California; Cemvita Factory, a Houston-based synthetic biology firm focused on the decarbonization of heavy industries; Infinium, an electrofuels company innovator in California forming decarbonization solutions for industries in Japan; and Starfire Energy, a modular green ammonia solution provider in Denver.

Series A and Series B valuations for US companies are much higher now than they were a few years ago, Sakai said. Still, the US is the leading climate tech startup ecosystem in the world and provides rich opportunity for capital deployment, Sakai said. Biofuels, SAF and waste-to-energy are leading sectors for MHI investment moving forward.

“We have several hundred of these in the pipeline that we are looking at right now,” he said. “In the next few years, we will increase the number of these portfolio companies.”

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