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FirstElement to test fueling Hyundai Class 8 trucks

FirstElement Fuel will use its network of hydrogen refueling stations and deploy its high capacity mobile refueler to fuel three XCIENT fuel cell trucks on routes in California.

FirstElement Fuel, the California-based provider of hydrogen fueling solutions, has partnered with Hyundai Motor Company to fuel and test the latter company’s XCIENT Fuel Cell Heavy Duty trucks, according to a news release.

FirstElement Fuel will use its True Zero network of hydrogen refueling stations to fuel three XCIENT Fuel Cell prototypes at full 700 bar pressure. In addition, the company is deploying its high capacity mobile refueler, developed in a collaboration between FirstElement, Taylor-Wharton, and Nikkiso. The mobile refueler, which is capable of fueling at 125 kilograms per hour, is being used to support pilot programs for several other Heavy Duty FCEV OEMs.

Later this year, FirstElement Fuel and Hyundai Motor will launch the world’s largest commercial deployment of Class 8 hydrogen-powered fuel cell trucks in Oakland, California. The project, titled NorCAL ZERO, was jointly funded by the California Energy Commission and the California Air Resources Board and is being managed by the Center for Transportation and the Environment.

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Fluitron appoints Linh Austin as president and CEO

Austin, the former COO of BayoTech, has been appointed CEO at Fluitron, a manufacturer of integrated hydrogen gas compression, storage, and dispensing systems.

Fluitron, a manufacturer of integrated hydrogen gas compression, storage, and dispensing systems, has appointed Linh Austin as president and chief executive officer.

Austin is the former chief operating officer of BayoTech and regional chief executive officer of McDermott International’s Middle East and North Africa business. Fluitron is a portfolio company of Ara Partners, a decarbonization-focused private equity firm.

Austin brings more than 30 years of experience in the energy industry to Fluitron, including significant leadership experience directing US and international oil & gas businesses, hydrogen operations, P&L management, strategy, and engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC). He has also led significant re-engineering initiatives, cost reductions, AI implementation, and energy transition efforts across multiple businesses.

“We are thrilled to welcome Linh to Fluitron as Chief Executive Officer,” said Tuan Tran, a partner at Ara. “Linh is a proven energy industry leader with the vision and expertise necessary to build upon the successful enterprise Fluitron has established over the past 47 years and take the company into its next phase of growth and innovation as a leader in hydrogen gas handling.”

“Linh has been a respected voice at the forefront of energy transition. We are delighted that he has chosen to bring his experience and passion to the leadership of Fluitron,” added Troy Thacker, Managing Partner of Ara Partners.

As Regional CEO for McDermott International in the Middle East and North Africa, Austin was responsible for over $3bn of business, and more than tripled the company’s regional revenue in under six years while maintaining margins. He also previously held several leadership roles at BP in both the US and UK.

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Nikola invests $50m for stake in Indiana hydrogen project

The cash and stock deal is for a 20% equity interest in a clean hydrogen project being developed in West Terre Haute, Indiana.

Nikola Corporation is investing $50 million in cash and stock in exchange for a 20% equity interest in the clean hydrogen project being developed in West Terre Haute, Ind.

The project, developed by Wabash Valley Resources, plans to use solid waste byproducts such as petroleum coke combined with biomass to produce clean, sustainable hydrogen for transportation fuel and base-load electricity generation while capturing CO2 emissions for permanent underground sequestration, according to a press release.

Once completed, the project is expected to be one of the largest carbon capture and clean hydrogen production projects in the United States. The focus is to produce zero-carbon intensity hydrogen with the potential to develop negative carbon intensity hydrogen in the future.

Working together, Nikola and WVR expect to lead in the transition to clean transportation fuels for trucking operations within the Midwest, one of the most intensive commercial transportation corridors in the United States.

This investment is anticipated to give Nikola a significant hydrogen hub with the ability to offtake approximately 50 tons a day to supply its future dispensing stations within an approximate 300-mile radius, covering a significant portion of the Midwest. Exercising its offtake right will likely require significant additional investment by Nikola to build liquefaction, storage, and transportation services.

“We intend this project to produce clean, low cost hydrogen in a critical geography for commercial transportation.” said Pablo Koziner, president, energy and commercial, Nikola. “The Wabash solution can generate electricity as well as hydrogen transportation fuel, which should provide the flexibility to support future truck sales and hydrogen station rollout in the region.  The expected efficiency of WVR’s clean hydrogen production should allow Nikola’s bundled truck lease, including fuel, service, and maintenance, to compete favorably with diesel.”

As part of this investment in the hydrogen economy in the Midwest, Nikola intends to build stations across Indiana and the broader Midwest to serve the region.

“WVR is developing a multi-product facility, where the hydrogen can be combusted in a turbine to produce clean baseload power. The recent spate of power outages serves as a reminder that the market has a pressing need for a non-intermittent source of clean energy.  We also look forward to working with Nikola to bring zero-emission transportation solutions to the Midwest,” said Simon Greenshields, chairman of the board for Wabash Valley Resources.

The completed facility should have the capability to produce up to 336 tons per day of hydrogen, enough to generate approximately 285 megawatts of clean electricity.  The project is expected to require 125 full-time employees and may support 750 construction jobs.  Groundbreaking is expected in early 2022 and take approximately two years to complete.

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Plug Power finalizing $1.6bn DOE loan facility

Executives from liquidity-strapped Plug Power said this morning that they are in the term sheet phase for a $1.6bn loan facility from the Department of Energy. The company burned through another roughly $360m of unrestricted cash in 4Q23, and is implementing a cash management program to avoid another ‘going concern’ warning by the time it files its 10-K.

Plug Power is finalizing a $1.6bn loan facility with the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, CEO Andy Marsh said on an investor update call today.

The New York-based company, which is facing a cash crunch, is in the term sheet phase for the loan facility, Marsh noted, which would help shore up its liquidity in the near term.

Marsh also announced that Plug’s Georgia facility is now operational, making it the largest PEM-based green hydrogen facility in operations in North America.

Last year Plug was on the hunt for a loan facility with Goldman Sachs as advisor, as reported by ReSource.

CFO Paul Middleton said the company has received offers for debt but not on terms that are acceptable to the company. For comparison, under the DOE loan structure, the interest rate on the loan facility will not go higher than 6.5%, the executives said.

Its cash management strategy, Middleton added, will focus on utilizing at-the-market (ATM) share offerings, reducing capex and increasing margins, including through raising product prices, and securing the DOE facility. 

In particular, Plug is focused on solving the ‘going concern’ issue with auditors by the time it files its year-end 10K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including through the use of a $1bn share offering program. An ATM program allows the issuing company to raise capital through share offerings as needed.

The company has also slowed investments into projects in Texas and New York until it finds a better financing solution, the CFO said. And the achievement of operations at the Georgia facility and the expected 2024 commercial operations date for the Tennessee facility will improve efficiencies.

Overall, Plug is seeking to reduce its cash burn by 70% in 2024 compared to 2023, and is targeting positive free cash flow in the next 12 months, according to Middleton.

The company’s equity has taken a beating in recent months, but is trading up by over 20% in pre-market trading to $3.44 per share.

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Houston ammonia and hydrogen terminal on the block

The owners of a recently developed Houston terminal with proximity to ammonia, hydrogen, and nitrogen pipelines are working with an advisor on a sale process.

The owners of Vopak Moda Houston, a Gulf Coast hydrogen and ammonia terminaling asset, have hired an investment bank to run a sale process, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Intrepid Investment Bankers has been retained to run the process, the sources said.

Vopak Moda and Intrepid did not respond to requests for comment.

Formed in 2016, Vopak Moda Houston is a 50/50 joint venture between Royal Vopak and Moda Midstream. Moda Midstream is a portfolio company of EnCap Flatrock Midstream, which did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2021 the JV commissioned its deepwater dock at the Port of Houston. It has constructed storage and terminal infrastructure for industrial gas product lines, with the stated intention of becoming a premier hydrogen and low-carbon ammonia terminaling hub in the Gulf Coast.

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California Resources pursuing pipeline of blue molecule projects

Through a subsidiary called Carbon TerraVault, the upstream oil and gas producer will approach carbon capture and blue molecule production investments on a project-level basis to help meet California’s lofty decarbonization goals.

Through its subsidiary Carbon TerraVault, California Resources Corporation will approach carbon capture and blue molecule production investments on a project-level basis to help meet California’s lofty decarbonization goals, Chief Sustainability Officer Chris Gould said in an interview.

Carbon TerraVault is differentiated by its nature as a CCS-as-a-service company, Gould said, as most CCS projects are owned by emitters themselves.

“We are bringing to market a solution to decarbonize other parts of the California economy,” Gould said, noting that hydrogen producers, power plants and steel and cement makers are among potential clients. “We are out across the state, working with emitters.”

Carbon TerraVault is self-mandated to return one billion tons of carbon back into the ground, first as a gas and then pressurized into liquid. Revenue comes from the federal 45Q incentive and the California LCFS and related tradeable market.

The company has a JV with Brookfield Renewable for the first 200 million tons. That JV recently formed a separate JV with Lone Cypress Energy Services for a planned blue hydrogen plant at the Elk Hills Field in Kern County.

Carbon TerraVault will provide permanent sequestration for 100,000 MTPA at the facility, and will receive an injection fee on a per ton basis, according to a December 7 presentation.

In hiring Carbon TerraVault to provide CCS as a service, LoneCypress also invited the company to invest in the production, Gould said. The JV has the right to participate in the blue hydrogen facility up to and including a majority equity stake, the presentation shows.

“You should expect to see over time as we do more and more of these that we’re going to have multiple models,” Gould said of these partnerships and financial structures. A typical model may emerge as the industry matures.

The company could repeat that effort for “many more” blue hydrogen projects in the state, Gould said. “Green [hydrogen] is a longer-term proposition that is going to be based on renewable buildout,” he said. “Blue is kind of here now.”

Target market

Carbon TerraVault estimates that California’s total CCS market opportunity is between 150 MMTPA – 210 MMTPA, and is in discussions for 8 MMTPA of CCS, of which 1 MMTPA is in advanced discussions, the presentation shows.

Through California Resources’ Elk Hills land position of 47,000 acres and CO2 sequestration reservoirs, the company could attract additional greenfield infrastructure projects like the Lone Cypress Hydrogen Project and create a Net Zero Industrial Park, according to the presentation.

In that vein, Gould noted the huge need for decarbonized ammonia in California’s central valley agriculture, which today is imported from abroad.

“There is a need for clean hydrogen in California and it is best if it is created in California,” Gould said.

The JV with Brookfield funds Carbon TerraVault’s storage needs, Gould said. Investments in the production processes, such as the deal with Lone Cypress, will likely require additional capital.

Project level financing is a “default assumption,” Gould said, though that’s not set in stone. The company is working with a financial advisor but Gould declined to name the firm.

The scale of California’s hydrogen ambitions is far beyond what any one company can do, Gould said.

“If you’re an advisor that is working with a developer likeLone Cypress that is considering locating in California, then I would say give us a ring,” Gould said. “We’re the ones who are going to be able to do the sequestration there.”

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It’s an electrolyzer – but for CO2

A New Jersey-based start-up is seeking to commercialize an electrocatalytic technology that transforms CO2 into a monomer for the plastics industry.

RenewCO2 is developing and seeking to commercialize a modular technology that converts waste CO2 into a usable product.

The New Jersey-based company is advancing a pilot project at an Ace Ethanol plant in Wisconsin that will take CO2 and convert it to monoethylene glycol, which can be used by the plastics industry.

The project was recently selected by the US DOE to receive a $500,000 grant. It seeks to demonstrate the technology’s ability to reduce the ethanol plant’s carbon footprint and produce a carbon-negative chemical.

In an interview, RenewCO2 co-founders Anders Laursen and Karin Calvinho said their technology, which was developed at Rutgers University, is geared toward carbon emitters who can not easily pipe away their CO2 and who may have use for the resulting product.


“It’s a matter of economics,” said Calvinho, who serves as the company’s CTO. Using the RenewCO2 technology, the ethanol plant or other user is able to keep 45Q tax incentives for capturing CO2 while also creating a product that generates an additional revenue stream.

Additionally, the modular design of the technology prevents emitters from having to build expensive pipeline infrastructure for CO2, she added. “We want to help to facilitate the use of the CO2 on site,” she said.

One of the goals of the project is to measure the carbon intensity of these technologies in combination, which ultimately depends on the electricity source for the electrochemical process, similar to an electrolyzer, Laursen, who is the CEO, said.

“The main constraint from a location point of view is the availability of reliable and affordable green power,” Laursen added.

Creating a market

The principal target market for RenewCO2’s technology is existing producers of monoethylene glycol (MEG), which is used to make recycled plastics, as well as ethanol producers and other emitters with purified CO2 streams.

Producers of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – one of the most recycled plastics globally – are also potential customers since they use MEG in their production process and have CO2 sources on site.

“Right now, MEG produced in the US is, for the most part, not polymerized into PET – it’s shipped overseas for making PET plastics used in textiles, and then made into fibers or shipped further,” Laursen said. “So if you can shorten that transport chain, you can reduce the CO2 emissions associated with the final product.”

RenewCO2 is looking for partners to help build the modular units, and is evaluating the purchase of existing PEM electrolyzer units that can be reconfigured, or having the units custom manufactured.

“We’re talking to potential manufacturing partners and evaluating whether we should do the manufacturing ourselves,” Calvinho said. And if they choose the latter route, she added, “we will have to build our own facilities, but it’s early to say.”

The company has raised a total of $10m in venture investment and grant funding, including a pre-seed round of over $2m from Energy Transition Ventures, a Houston-based venture capital fund.

While not currently fundraising, Laursen said they are always taking calls to get to know the investors that are interested in the space. He added that the company may need to raise additional capital in 12 to 18 months.

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