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FFI and Nikola to collaborate on large-scale green hydrogen projects in US

Supply of green hydrogen for any potential projects will be underpinned by Nikola as a potential offtaker.

Nikola Corporation, a provider of zero-emissions transportation and energy supply and infrastructure solutions, and Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) have executed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on and evaluate the co-development of large-scale US green hydrogen production facilities.

Supply of green hydrogen for any potential projects will be underpinned by Nikola as a potential offtaker, which has a large demand for green hydrogen in order to decarbonize the transportation sector and other industries.

FFI’s significant experience and capabilities in hydrogen project development make it an ideal partner for Nikola in the potential development of this project, according to a news release. It is a global green energy company pursuing opportunities in more than 25 countries and a subsidiary of top ten ASX company Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX: FMG). FFI is leading the green industrial revolution by acquiring and developing technology solutions for hard-to-decarbonize industries, while building a global portfolio of renewable energy, green hydrogen and green ammonia projects.

Under the terms of the MOU, Nikola will evaluate green hydrogen offtake opportunities from any other green hydrogen projects being pursued by FFI. The parties will also evaluate the potential co-development of new green hydrogen production and associated infrastructure projects.

“FFI has an ambitious decarbonization strategy and associated investment allocated to lead the decarbonization efforts for one of the biggest resources companies in the world,” said Nikola Corporation President and CEO, Michael Lohscheller. “This MOU will establish the framework for future collaborations as strategic partners for the potential co-development of meaningful energy transition solutions, with a focus on the Phoenix Hydrogen Hub project being led by Nikola today.”

FFI CEO Mark Hutchinson said: “North America has the potential to become the world’s leading green energy heartland. This new partnership demonstrates FFI’s commitment to help decarbonize the transportation sector and enable the world to work towards achieving zero emissions. The incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act also make the US one of the best places in the world to invest in green energy and create a pipeline of new jobs.”

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Irish agribusiness investing $500m in US biorefinery

The facility is in line for a $400m DOE loan guarantee as part of the investment.

ClonBio, an Irish agribusiness firm with global operations, is planning to invest $500m in a biorefinery plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

The group has already invested the first $100m in the facility, called Aztalan, following the acquisition of the moth-balled plant in 2022.

Given incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act, the owners are accelerating their investment program in tandem with an application for a Department of Energy loan guaranteed, the Irish Independent reported.

“It will drive the most efficient use of grain in the history of the United States,” CEO Jeff Oestmann said in a statement. “Every part of the corn kernel is going to be used efficiently to make starch based, fibre based, protein based and fat based foods, feeds, and fuels, thereby promoting the circular economy and maximizing food security,” he added.

Company representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

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Amazon investing big in direct air capture

The online retail giant entered a carbon removal agreement with an Oxy DAC project in Texas, and took a stake in a separate DAC developer.

Amazon has made its first investments in direct air capture (DAC) as part of its Climate Pledge commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, according to a news release.

Amazon is supporting the world’s largest deployment of DAC technology by committing to purchase 250,000 metric tons of carbon removal over 10 years from STRATOS, 1PointFive’s first DAC plant. This is equivalent to the amount of carbon stored naturally across more than 290,000 acres of U.S. forests—roughly half the size of the state of Rhode Island. Carbon captured under this agreement will be stored deep underground in saline aquifers, which are large geological rock formations that are saturated in salt water.

1PointFive is a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum.

In addition, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund is making an investment in CarbonCapture Inc., a climate technology company recognized for its pioneering modular DAC systems. These systems are designed to be easily upgraded over time with next-generation sorbents that filter carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere, facilitating cost reductions driven by rapid material science advancements.

In DAC technology, CO2 in the atmosphere is filtered out and stored in underground geological formations, or used to create products such as building materials, like concrete, bricks, and cement. With these new investments, DAC will become one component of Amazon’s broader sustainability strategy, which also includes developing nature-based solutions such as forest conservation and restoration.

“Amazon’s primary focus is to decarbonize our global operations through our transition to renewable energy, building with more sustainable materials and electrifying our delivery fleet, and global logistics,” said Kara Hurst, vice president of worldwide sustainability at Amazon. “We are also pursuing changes such as reducing the weight of packaging per shipment for our customers. At the same time, we also need to seek every possible avenue to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. These investments in direct air capture complement our emissions reductions plans, and we are excited to support the growth and deployment of this technology.”

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NEXT Renewables acquires Oregon biofuels assets

Lakeview RNG plans to redevelop a failed biofuels project into a facility producing RNG and clean hydrogen from waste wood.

Lakeview RNG, a wholly owned subsidiary of NEXT Renewable Fuels, has acquired assets associated with the Red Rock Biofuels development in Lake County, OR, according to a news release.

The company is commencing a redevelopment plan focused on completing construction of certain aspects of the site while replacing or enhancing others. When complete, the Lakeview RNG facility is expected to be capable of converting forest waste into renewable natural gas and clean hydrogen.

NEXT Renewable Fuels reached a deal to go public via a SPAC transaction with listed Industrial Tech Acquisitions II. A merger agreement for the deal, which was set to close on April 14, has been extended to December 14, according to SEC filings.

“Acquiring the Lake County clean fuels infrastructure is another advancement in our mission to decarbonize the transportation industry and produce low carbon fuels at scale,” said Christopher Efird, CEO and Chairperson of NEXT. “This acquisition represents a major step toward our clean fuel production capabilities and pathways to meet growing demand for clean fuels along the west coast of the United States while helping to address the critical concern of forest health.”

Using wood waste, or “slash,” as the feedstock, Lakeview RNG will process that wood waste and turn it into a low-carbon gaseous fuel, benefitting environmental and community health in southern Oregon and beyond.

Lakeview RNG has evaluated the potential feedstock supply in Oregon and determined that all of its wood waste needs could come from within 150 miles of the facility. Wood waste used at the facility will be certified and compliant with applicable regulations for RNG production. Converting forest waste to renewable fuel products helps reduce forest fire fuel loads and provide an additional revenue source to timber communities. The local distribution network in Lake County is anchored by the Ruby pipeline and can deliver renewable fuels to transportation markets in Oregon and along the west coast.

The purchase price of the facility has not been disclosed.

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Exclusive: Methanol electrolyzer start-up gearing up for seed capital raise

An early-stage technology company seeking to commercialize an electrolyzer that produces methanol from CO2 at ambient temperature and pressure is preparing its first capital raise.

Oxylus Energy, a methanol technology and project development start-up, is preparing to kick off its first capital raise later this month.

The Yale-based firm is seeking to raise $4m in seed funding, with proceeds funding the advancement of a production-scale CO2-to-methanol electrolyzer cell and its first commercial agreements for offtake, CEO Perry Bakas said in an interview.

Oxylus aims to commercialize an electrolyzer that creates methanol from CO2 at room temperature and pressure, and also plans to develop and operate its own methanol production plants, he said.

The technology, which will scale to larger versions in coming years, recently hit a key milestone with the validation of a 5cm2 platform.

The seed capital raise would provide approximately 26 months of runway, according to Bakas. The company would then raise between $20 – $30m in a follow-on Series A in late 2026.

“What we’re gonna do with the Series A is put that first electrolyzer into the ground,” he said. “It’ll be our first revenue-producing methanol.”

Oxylus is currently owned by Bakas and his fellow co-founders. The company has been entirely grant funded to this point. DLA Piper is advising as the law firm on the seed capital raise.

“I think the most important thing about the technology is it’s the most energy-efficient pathway to making renewable methanol,” he said. “At the right energy prices, you’re below cost parity with fossil-derived methanol. When that happens, I think it’ll become a very interesting development scenario.”

Oxylus is focused on bringing the so-called green premium down to zero, Bakas said, noting that it requires achieving scale in electrolyzer production or partnering with established electrolyzer manufacturers.

Methanol for shipping

Oxylus will seek to introduce its technology into target markets that are already using methanol as a feedstock, like high-value petrochemicals. In the longer term, shipping and aviation are likely to become attractive markets. Taken together, the company believes methanol has the potential to decarbonize 11% of global emissions.

Methanol will compete with ammonia for primacy as a shipping fuel in the future, but Bakas believes methanol is the better option.

“These are massive markets – they need a lot of solutions, and quickly,” he said. “But ammonia is not energy dense, and it doesn’t integrate with existing infrastructure.”

The International Energy Agency recently projected that while ammonia will be cheaper to make, methanol is easier to handle, resulting in roughly similar cost profiles for e-methanol and green ammonia. The added cost for methanol production, the report found, is likely to come from a scarcity of biogenic CO2.

On that topic, Bakas acknowledged that the methanol pathway still requires combustion of carbon, but emphasized his technology’s ability to displace existing fossil fuel-based methanol production.

“The distinction we need to make is: are these virgin hydrocarbons or are they recycled hydrocarbons? If you’re just continuously pumping new CO2 out of the ground into the atmosphere, you’re gonna continue to cause climate change,” he said.

“The technologies that we are building in this suite of technologies that cover direct air capture, point source capture, carbon conversion, that whole CCUS world,” he added, “are really working to monitor and create a homeostasis in the atmospheric balance of CO2.”

Oxylus recently completed a lifecycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions, Bakas said, finding that its fuels are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 95% at optimal voltage compared to natural gas steam methane reforming.

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exclusive

Waste-to-hydrogen developer to close $100m capital raise this month

Raven SR’s C-round of financing is being run by two bulge-bracket banks, and the firm has received widespread interest from private equity and corporate strategics.

Raven SR, a US waste-to-hydrogen developer, is working on a $100m capital raise that’s expected to wrap up this month, according to four sources familiar with the matter.

Raven’s C-round of financing is being run by Barclays and Bank of America. The firm has received widespread interest from private equity and corporate strategics.

Raven CEO Matt Murdock said on the sidelines of the Hydrogen Americas event in Washington D.C. that he was hoping to have the raise done by Thanksgiving.

Headquartered in Wyoming with projects in California and Spain, the company uses a steam/CO2 reforming process that transforms municipal solid waste, organic waste and methane into clean fuels.

In August, 2021, Raven closed on a $20m strategic investment from Chevron U.S.A., ITOCHU Corporation, Hyzon Motors Inc. and Ascent Hydrogen Fund. Samsung Ventures made a strategic investment earlier this year, allowing the company to expand into the Asia-Pacific market.

The company has partnered with INNIO to use its Jenbacher engines to provide renewable power and heat to Raven SR’s first waste-to-hydrogen production facility at the Republic Services West Contra Costa Sanitary Landfill in Richmond, California.

Raven SR plans to bring the plant online in the first quarter of 2023, initially processing up to 99.9 tons of organic waste per day and producing up to 2,000 metric tons per year of hydrogen.

In Aragón, Spain, Raven SR is aiming to bring a second project online in 2023 that will produce 1,600 metric tons per year of renewable hydrogen from approximately 75 tons of organic solid waste per day.

Raven SR recently announced the election of Mark Gordon of Ascent Fund and Michael Hoban of Chevron New Energies to its Board of Directors.

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California carbon transformation firm lands new CFO

The Bay Area company is looking toward a Series C before an IPO in a couple of years.

Jimmy Chuang, the former CFO for Strata Clean Energy, has left that company to take the same role at carbon transformation startup Twelve, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Twelve recently completed a $130m Series B led by DCVC and has raised USD 200m in equity to date, the sources said.

The Bay Area company is looking toward a Series C that would be much larger, before an IPO in a couple of years, one of the sources said. The company is in talks with bulge bracket bankers now but has not hired anyone.

Twelve did not respond to requests for comment. Strata declined to comment.

Twelve creates materials, like chemicals and fuels, from captured carbon. The company recently signed an MoU with Microsoft and Alaska Airlines to collaborate on the production of sustainable aviation fuel.

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