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Exclusive: Hydrocarbon recycling firm raising pre-IPO equity

An early-stage company capturing and recycling CO2 from hydrocarbon engines in the northeastern US and Germany has hired an investment bank to help them with a public listing and is raising pre-IPO platform equity.

ESG Clean Energy, a Massachusetts-based carbon capture and recycling firm formed in 2016, plans to go public in 2025 but will first raise pre-IPO platform equity, CEO Nick Scuderi said in an interview.

ESG Clean Energy will change its name in a re-brand and has hired an investment bank to help with the IPO, which does not yet have a targeted quarter, Scuderi said. He declined to name the advisor.

After the name change but prior to the public listing, ESG is seeking to raise between $20m and $40m in platform equity, he said. The company is interested in a traditional IPO, not a SPAC or private debut opportunity.

Angel investors have backed the company to date, with some $40m total raised, Scuderi said. He owns a controlling stake in the company.

Power, water and CO2

ESG Clean Energy, billed as a thermal dynamics and fluid mechanics engineering company, has patented technology for use in fossil combustion engines – both piston-driven engines and bottoming cycles (secondary thermal dynamic waste-to-energy systems). Exhaust is treated to produce CO2 and water.

The technology is commercialized, producing power at a facility in Holyoke, Massachusetts under a 5 MW/20-year PPA with Holyoke Gas & Electric. The 5,000 square-foot plant in the city proper has two Caterpillar G3520 natural gas engines each producing 2 MW of power running on natural gas during peak hours.

The waste-heat from Holyoke One is used to create commodities, including distilled water.

“What we have is a design, a system, where we utilize our technology to separate the water from the exhaust,” Scuderi said. “We can utilize this technology in any power plant in the US that’s running on natural gas.”

In arid regions, the distilled water aspect has obvious potential. The Holyoke One facility makes up to 14,000 gallons of distilled water per day, Scuderi said.

The system is also applicable in ICE engines, Suderi said. The company has been in discussions with auto manufacturers to license ESG’s IP; he declined to name which auto companies.

The CO2 is sold to offtakers who do not re-emit it into the atmosphere, such as cannabis growers and CO2 beverage makers. ESG is also able to sell carbon credits.

Bankable opportunities in the US and Germany

Holyoke One, at a cost of $20m, can be replicated throughout the US and, post-IPO, ESG has eyes on power projects in New England, California and Florida, Scuderi said.

Power plants that produce from 100 MWh to 200 MWh will cost between $400m and $450m, and each of those projects will be set up as a separate LLC, Scuderi said. The demand is particularly large in powering data storage.

“We have different [investment] funds that are very large that are willing to put up the money” to fund the projects, Scuderi said. “It’s bankable because the power sales agreement is tied to a data storage company that’s triple-A rated.”

Data-heavy geographies like Virginia are targets for this kind of development, and ESG plans to sharpen its focus on these projects, as well as project finance efforts, following the IPO.

Now, the company has six large scale projects in development in Germany, including one advanced project serving a cloud computing offtaker in the Berlin area, needing 150 MW to 200 MW of power per hour, Scuderi said.

“In Germany, we’re very far along with getting power sales agreements,” he said. “Once we deploy this technology in one location, the world’s going to want it.”

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Gulf Coast ammonia plant trades at 9.3x

Australia-based Incitec Pivot Limited sold the Louisiana plant to CF Industries for an EV-to-EBITDA multiple of 9.3x.

Global hydrogen and nitrogen manufacturer CF Industries purchased the Waggaman ammonia production complex in Louisiana at an EV multiple of 9.3x, executives from the seller, Incitec Pivot, said on a call today.

The multiple is over the through-the-cycle EBITDA generated at the plant, and compares to a five-year EV-to-EBITDA multiple for IPL of 7.3x, the company’s CFO, Paul Victor, said. The facility has a nameplate capacity of 880,000 tons of ammonia annually.

IPL considered several proposals in a competitive sale process, and was similarly focused on securing a long-term supply agreement from the plant for its Dyno Nobel subsidiary, which manufactures commercial explosives.

JP Morgan served as sellside financial advisor while Latham & Watkins was legal counsel. Goldman Sachs is serving as the financial advisor to CF Industries on the transaction. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal advisor to the buyer.

Under the terms of the agreement, CF Industries will purchase the Waggaman ammonia plant and related assets for $1.675bn. The companies will allocate approximately $425m of the purchase price to a long-term ammonia offtake agreement under which CF Industries will supply up to 200,000 tons of ammonia per year to Dyno Nobel.

CF Industries expects to fund the remaining $1.25bn of the purchase price with cash on hand.

The buyer also anticipates implementing CCS at the site on an accelerated timeline, according to the deal announcement. Incitec executives declined to say on today’s call whether there would be pricing adjustments in the offtake contract once the low-carbon blue ammonia comes online.

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GIC and Carlyle invest in green ammonia developer Eneus

Global investment firm Carlyle and GIC have invested in green ammonia developer Eneus Energy Limited

Global investment firm Carlyle and GIC have invested in green ammonia developer Eneus Energy Limited to support the development of a more than 14 GW pipeline, , according to a news release.

Founded in 2013, Eneus has industrial scale production plants in a global market for green ammonia and green hydrogen in the US ad the UK.

The comapny was advised by A. Brown + Company Ltd. and Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. Carlyle and GIC were advised by Allen & Overy and Ashurst.

The capital will finance Eneus’s development of a portfolio of green ammonia projects globally.

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Par Pacific to invest $90m in Hawaii renewable fuels facility

The renewable fuel facility is expected to produce approximately 61 million gallons per year of renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel, renewable naphtha and liquified petroleum gases.

Par Pacific Holdings, Inc. plans to invest approximately $90m to develop the state’s largest liquid renewable fuels manufacturing facility at its Kapolei refinery.

The project relies on the Kapolei refinery’s highly experienced operating team, existing tank storage and related logistics, as well as available hydrogen from current refining operations, a key requirement for low-carbon renewable fuels production. As a result, this project is expected to be completed for less than $1.50 per gallon of annual operating capacity and is expected to be commissioned in 2025. The unit can produce up to 60% sustainable aviation fuel in a first step toward decarbonizing Hawaii’s significant air travel market.

“This project represents a key milestone in our renewable fuels strategy, which supplements our conventional fuels production in Hawaii. The expansion ensures that Par Hawaii, with its high-paying local manufacturing jobs, will be the leading supplier of liquid fuels to the Hawaii economy now and into the future,” said William Pate, Par Pacific’s CEO.

In total, the renewable fuel facility is expected to produce approximately 61 million gallons per year of renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), renewable naphtha and liquified petroleum gases (LPGs). If market conditions are supportive, yield can be shifted to over 90% renewable diesel. These renewable fuels lower greenhouse gas emissions while providing reliable electricity and transportation fuels to Hawaii consumers.

“Given this project’s feedstock requirements, the state is well positioned to drive an additional major economic benefit by creating a market for locally grown oil seed crops. The creative redevelopment of a portion of our refining system is an excellent example of our team’s technical strength to deliver renewable fuel solutions that supplement our existing operations. I am very proud of the team’s contributions and look forward to continuing our efforts to diversify and decarbonize energy sources for our community,” said Eric Wright, president of Par Hawaii, Par Pacific’s local subsidiary.

The announcement coincides with Par Pacific’s authorization from the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zone Board to use foreign-sourced vegetable oil to supplement locally-sourced renewable feedstocks. Par Hawaii is working with Hawaii-based Pono Pacific in the planting of camelina crops to test the suitability of that oil seed for state production. Par Pacific is committed to supporting the state agricultural sector in the development of oil seed crops to support decarbonization of the local economy.

In 2022, Par Pacific and Hawaiian Airlines, the largest air carrier in the state, announced a joint feasibility study to explore ways to make sustainable aviation fuel commercially viable. Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in our shared efforts to produce renewable fuels in Hawaii. The companies look forward to engaging with stakeholders across the community to advance policies which enable the use of renewable fuels in Hawaii.

Par Pacific also is assessing development opportunities at the former Chevron refinery location in Kapolei, near its current operations, including projects that would further support the state’s efforts to decarbonize its electrical grid.

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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: Liquid hydrogen at room temp: Tech firm raising money to scale

A provider of liquid organic hydrogen carrier technology is finishing a second seed round with designs on a Series A next year. The technology allows hydrogen to be transported as a liquid at room temperature.

Ayrton Energy, the Calgary-based provider of liquid organic hydrogen carrier storage technology, is preparing to launching a second seed round and plans a $30m Series A next year, CEO Natasha Kostenuk told ReSource.

Ayrton, with 10 employees, allows hydrogen to be transported as a liquid at room temperature, Kostenuk said. The liquid can also be transported in existing infrastructure while mitigating pipeline corrosion.

The company’s target customers are hydrogen producers, utilities and hub-and-spoke logistical servicers.

To date Ayrton has raised $5m from venture capital and a similar amount will come from the next seed round, Kostenuk said. A 30 kg per day pilot project with a gas utility in Canada is underway and Ayrton will look to 10x that next year, she said, with eyes on 3 metric tonnes per day commercialization.

“It scales like electrolyzers,” she said of the technology. “We can get very large, very easily.”

Ayrton is now engaging investors and potential advisors, Kostenuk said. “It would be good to engage with us now.”

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Exclusive: Zero-emission locomotive start-up in Series B capital raise

A locomotive start-up focused on the US market for zero-emission freight trains is undergoing a Series B capital raise, with sights on a much larger Series C raise next year.

OptiFuel Systems, a provider of zero-emission line haul locomotives and generation solutions, is conducting a $30m Series B capital raise.

The South Carolina-based firm is seeking to finalize the Series B by the end of this year, and plans to use proceeds to advance production of its zero-emission technologies for the rail industry, which represents a massive decarbonization opportunity, CEO Scott Myers said in an interview.

Meanwhile, the firm will seek to tap the market for around $150m for a Series C next year, Myers added. The company is not working with a financial adviser. 

While the Series B will focus on bringing to production some of OptiFuel’s smaller rail offerings, such as the switcher locomotives, the Series C will be mostly dedicated to progressing testing, manufacturing, and commercialization of its larger line haul locomotive.

The company is also considering making its own investments into digesters for RNG facilities, from which it would source the gas to run its RNG-fueled locomotives. As part of its offering, OptiFuel also provides refueling infrastructure, and envisions this aspect of its business to be just as profitable as selling trains.

“We anticipate that we would be the offtaker” of RNG, “and quite potentially, the producer,” Cynthia Heinz, an OptiFuel board member, said in the interview.

A systems integrator, OptiFuel offers modular locomotives for the freight industry that can run on zero-emission technology such as renewable natural gas, batteries, and hydrogen. The company recently announced that it will begin testing of its RNG line haul locomotive, which is a 1-million-mile test program that will take two years and require 10 RNG line haul locomotives.

Image: OptiFuel

The company’s target market is the 38,000 operating freight trains in the U.S., 25,000 of which are line haul locomotives run by operators like BASF, Union Pacific, and CSX. Fleet owners will be required to phase out diesel-powered trains starting next decade following passage of in-use locomotive requirements in California, which includes financial penalties for pollution and eventual restrictions on polluting locomotives. Other states are evaluating similar measures.

“The question is not will the railroads change over: they have to,” Myers said. “The question is, how fast?”

Following completion of testing, OptiFuel aims to begin full production of the line haul locomotive – which has a price tag of $5.5m per unit – in 2028, and is aiming to produce 2,000 per year as a starting point. The smaller switcher units are priced between $1.5m and $2.5m depending on horsepower.

OptiFuel has held discussions with Cummins, one of its equipment providers, to source at least 2,000 engines per year from Cummins to support its production goal. 

“That’s a $10bn-a-year market for us,” Myers added.

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