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Fuel cell ferry start-up raises Series A

A US-based company developing electrified, zero-emission ferries powered by battery and hydrogen fuel cell has raised $10m in a Series A.

SWITCH Maritime LLC, a US-based company developing electrified, zero-emission ferries powered by battery and hydrogen fuel cell, has raised $10m in a Series A round led by Nexus Development Capital to grow its fleet, according to a news release.

Founded in 2018 by a veteran team of maritime energy transition leaders, SWITCH’s mission is to enable private and public municipal ferry operators to more easily replace their carbon-intensive, diesel-powered fleets while reducing operating and fueling costs over the lifetime of their vessels.

With the nearly 1,000 vessels in the U.S. fleet moving a total of 100+ million passengers and 25+ million vehicles annually, ferries serve as a vital means of transportation for urban and rural communities alike across the country.

While an important mode of transit, ferries also represent a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter which negatively impact the air quality and health outcomes for local communities. The aging ferry fleets in the US burn tens of millions of gallons of diesel each year, and each diesel-burning ferry is a candidate for being converted or displaced with a low- or zero-emissions vessel.

SWITCH’s recent fundraise comes on the back of the completion of its flagship zero-emission vessel, Sea Change, which will operate as part of the public Water Emergency Transportation Authority’s (WETA) SF Bay Ferry fleet. The new 75-passenger ferry uses hydrogen fuel cells to produce electricity to power electric motors for distances up to 300 nautical miles, and speeds up to 15 knots, with the added benefits of no exhaust smoke and very little vibration and noise. While the only emission is pure water vapor, this technology allows for new ferries to have the same performance capabilities as diesel-powered vessels, and without the need for installing large-scale battery charging infrastructure on the shore.

“Nexus Development Capital is committed to helping companies bridge the gap between project conception and implementation by working together to take nascent technologies to market,” said Nexus Development Capital CEO, Josh Kaufman. “SWITCH is filling a huge market gap in decarbonizing the maritime industry, and we’re excited to work together to bring carbon-free sea transport to the US.”

As states like California begin to implement stringent emissions regulations and reporting requirements for commercial harbor craft (including ferries), vessel operators are becoming faced with the reality that they need to modernize and decarbonize their aging fleets, often without the resources to successfully make the transition. SWITCH’s model addresses the complex, resource-intensive process of technology integration, vessel construction and regulatory approvals for zero-emission vessels and offers them a painless path to a carbon-neutral, compliant fleet.

Specifically, SWITCH provides operators with three key avenues of support: (1) vessel design, financing, and construction, (2) short- and long-term vessel lease options, alleviating large upfront capital expenditures, and (3) pre-packaged carbon-neutral fueling or charging infrastructure solutions. These baseline services can be complemented by grant application writing and tax incentive administration, preventative & unplanned maintenance of new power systems onboard, management of all necessary permitting and crew training as well as next-generation carbon management and reporting.

“Our objective is to take the stress out of the energy transition for ferry operators,” says Pace Ralli, CEO of SWITCH Maritime. “Everyone is under a lot of pressure to navigate the rapidly evolving technology and regulatory landscape, and without simple pre-packaged solutions that can be difficult. At SWITCH, we’re excited to help make that transition easier, achieving important emissions reductions along the way.”

Having received regulatory approval in 2022 from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) for hydrogen powertrain and storage systems, Sea Change represents the culmination of years of cooperation with the USCG focused on safely integrating hydrogen and electric powertrain systems on passenger vessels and paves the path for SWITCH’s fleet expansion plans. Establishing a regulatory framework for this technology unlocks the possibility of progressing to larger ferry designs capable of operating at higher speeds on longer routes.

SWITCH is actively working on additional expansion designs for 150-, 300- and 450-passenger zero-emission ferries, leveraging the lessons learned from its flagship vessel and is ready to grow its fleet in key ferry markets across the US.

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Japan’s ENEOS makes investment in Gulf Coast hydrogen project

Established by Azimuth Capital Management, MVCE is developing a large plant for the manufacture of hydrogen, MCH, and ammonia to supply Japan.

ENEOS Corporation has made an equity investment in MVCE Gulf Coast, LLC, according to a news release.

MVCE seeks to produce clean hydrogen in the Gulf of Mexico and build a clean hydrogen supply chain between Japan and the US.

“ENEOS is working to build low-cost, stable clean hydrogen supply chains in Japan and overseas,” the release states. “As one aspect of the
initiative, ENEOS is investigating the joint production of hydrogen with business partners in Asia, the Middle East, and Australia as well as the production and transportation of methylcyclohexane (MCH),  an effective medium for the efficient form of hydrogen storage and transportation.”

Established by Azimuth Capital Management, MVCE is developing one of the world’s largest plants for the manufacture of hydrogen, MCH, and ammonia in
the Gulf of Mexico. Through its equity participation, ENEOS will verify the commercial feasibility of manufacturing cost-competitive and clean hydrogen in the Gulf of Mexico and exporting MCH to Japan.

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Carbon removal firm spins out of UCLA contracted with Boeing

Equatic has a pre-purchase agreement with Boeing for its carbon-negative hydrogen and currently operates two carbon removal pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore.

Carbon removal company Equatic recently spun out from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering’s Institute for Carbon Management to deploy the first technology combining CO2 removal and carbon-negative hydrogen generation, according to a news release.

Alongside the launch, Equatic is announcing that it has entered into a pre-purchase option agreement with Boeing, a leading global aerospace company. Under the agreement, Equatic will remove 62,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and will deliver 2,100 metric tons of carbon-negative hydrogen to Boeing.

“The oceans are the world’s largest reservoir of carbon dioxide. One quarter of the world’s daily CO2 emissions are drawn down into the ocean,” the release states. “Equatic’s technology accelerates and amplifies this natural cycle to remove and durably store CO2. The entire removal and sequestration process happens within the boundaries of an industrial carbon removal plant, enabling Equatic to precisely measure CO2.”

Equatic currently operates two carbon removal pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore. One hundred percent of the CO2 removed from these pilots has been pre-sold, including via pre-purchase agreements with global payment solution provider, Stripe.

Equatic expects to reach 100,000 metric tons of carbon removal per year by 2026 and millions of metric tons of carbon removal for less than $100 per metric ton by 2028.

“Furthermore, Equatic will become a dominant producer of carbon-negative hydrogen — hydrogen created from processes that reduce atmospheric CO2,” the release states. “The hydrogen will be sold as a clean energy source to decarbonize industrial processes, produce electricity for the transportation sector, create Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) and fuels for trucking, and power the Equatic technology itself.”

Equatic emerges from UCLA with over $30m in initial funding including grants and equity investments from organizations such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the National Science Foundation, YouWeb Incubator, The Nicholas Endowment, Singapore’s Temasek Foundation, PUB: Singapore’s National Water Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

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Decarbonization start-up raises $125m

The company provides technology using natural microorganisms to convert greenhouse gas into moldable carbon.

Newlight Technologies, Inc., a provider of decarbonization technology using natural microorganisms to convert greenhouse gas into high-performance AirCarbon®-based materials, has completed an equity investment round led by GenZero totaling $125m, according to a news release.

The funding round includes participation by GenZero, a Temasek-owned decarbonization-focused investment platform company, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures (OLCV), a subsidiary of Occidental (Oxy) focused on advancing low-carbon technologies and business solutions, Charter Next Generation (CNG), North America’s leading producer of specialty films, and a global luxury goods manufacturer, as well as other new and existing shareholders.

In addition to financial participation, Newlight has completed development agreements with CNG to commercialize specialty films decarbonized with AirCarbon and with OLCV to use direct air capture (DAC) systems to develop carbon dioxide feedstock for AirCarbon production plants.

Newlight is currently delivering AirCarbon-based products and materials to over 5,000 locations across the world, including to customers and partners in the fashion, entertainment, foodservice, hotel, and automotive industries. This investment will enable Newlight to expand its AirCarbon manufacturing platform towards the company’s goal of using greenhouse gas as a resource to manufacture decarbonized materials at global scale.

“This capital round represents an inflection point for Newlight, where we have the opportunity to build on 20 years of research, development, and commercialization, and expand biological decarbonization at large scale,” said Mark Herrema, CEO of Newlight. “It is an important milestone for Newlight, and we are tremendously excited about the path ahead.”

Newlight uses microorganisms found in California that eat greenhouse gas as their food source to grow a molecule inside of their cells, like muscle, called PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate). PHB is a molecule found in most life on Earth and is used by living organisms as a biological energy and carbon storage vehicle. When purified, PHB becomes meltable and moldable, able to deliver broad-based functionality within the materials market. By weight, AirCarbon is approximately 40% oxygen derived from air and 60% carbon derived from greenhouse gas.

Frederick Teo, CEO of GenZero, said, “Newlight’s work is transformational in leveraging the power of both technology and nature to produce biomaterials. By using captured greenhouse gases such as methane to produce a high-quality material (AirCarbon) and replace fossil-based plastics, we can achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions. We are excited to support Newlight in their next phase of growth as they expand their commercial production to meet the increasing demand for zero-carbon materials and deliver decarbonization impact at scale.”

Oxy Low Carbon Ventures is leveraging its parent company’s carbon management expertise to deliver solutions that reduce emissions to help Oxy and others achieve net zero. OLCV is making investments in technology, projects and development platforms across the carbon capture value chain. It is currently leading the construction of Stratos, the world’s largest Direct Air Capture plant in Texas, and building sequestration hubs throughout the U.S. Gulf coast region to provide large-scale and rapid carbon removal solutions to help the climate.

“We are excited to work with innovative companies like Newlight who share our vision in decarbonizing a multitude of industries that can help accelerate the path to net zero,” said Derek Willis, Vice President, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures. “Direct Air Capture provides a unique opportunity to supply CO2 as a raw material to create low carbon products. We look forward to supporting Newlight as they work to unlock new value from CO2 while addressing climate change.”

Today, AirCarbon is being used to develop and manufacture products across a range of industries, with a goal of turning everyday products into a consumer-driven force for carbon reduction. The capital investment in this round will enable Newlight to significantly expand the production of AirCarbon at both its existing California facility as well as a new AirCarbon production facility being built in Ohio.

“Our vision is a world where greenhouse gas is used the way nature uses it–as a resource–and by turning it into high-performance consumer products, we can provide companies with a measurable and scalable path to help them decarbonize their products and move closer to a net-zero world,” said Herrema.

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Exclusive: Geologic hydrogen startup raising Series A

A US geologic hydrogen startup that employs electric fracking with a pilot presence on the Arabian Peninsula is raising a $40m Series A and has identified a region in the midwestern US for its first de-risked project.

Eden GeoPower, a Boston-based geologic hydrogen technology provider, is engaged in raising a Series A and has a timeline on developing a project in Minnesota, CEO and co-founder Paris Smalls told ReSource.

The Series A target is $40m, with $10m being supplied by existing investors, Smalls said. This round, the company is looking for stronger financial investors to join its strategic backers.

The company has two subsidiaries wholly owned by the parent: one oil and gas-focused and one climate-focused. The Series A is topco equity at the parent level.

Eden was one of 16 US Department of Energy-selected projects to receive funding to explore geologic hydrogen; the majority of the others are academic lab projects. Eden has raised some $13m in equity and $12m in grant funding to date.

Beyond geothermal

Eden started as a geothermal resource developer, using abandoned oil and gas wells for production via electric fracking.

“We started seeing there were applications way beyond geothermal,” Smalls said. Early grant providers recommended using the electric fracking technology to go after geologic hydrogen reservoirs, replacing the less environmentally friendly hydraulic fracking process typically used.

A test site in Oman, where exposed iron-rich rock makes the country a potential future geologic hydrogen superpower, will de-risk Eden’s technology, Smalls said. Last year the US DOE convened the first Bilateral Engagement on Geologic Hydrogen in Oman.

Early developments are underway on a demonstration project in Tamarack, Minnesota, Smalls said. That location has the hollow-vein rocks that can produce geologic hydrogen.

“We likely won’t do anything there until after we have sufficiently de-risked the technology in Oman, and that should be happening in the next 8 months,” Smalls said. “There’s a good chance we’ll be the first people in the world to demonstrate this.”

Eden is not going after natural geologic hydrogen, but rather stimulating reactions to change the reservoir properties to make hydrogen underground, Small said.

The University of Minnesota is working with Eden on a carbon mineralization project, Smalls said. The company is also engaged with Minnesota-based mining company Talon Metals.

Revenue from mining, oil and gas

Eden has existing revenue streams from oil and gas customers in Texas and abroad, Smalls said, and has an office in Houston with an expanding team.

“People are paying us to go and stimulate a reservoir,” he said. “We’re using those opportunities to help us de-rick the technology.”

The technology has applications in geothermal development and mining, Smalls said. Those contracts have been paying for equipment.

Mining operations often include or are adjacent to rock that can be used to produce geologic hydrogen, thereby decarbonizing mining operations using both geothermal energy and geologic hydrogen, Smalls said.

“On our cap table right now we have one of the largest mining companies in the world, Anglo American,” Smalls said. “We do projects with BHP and other big mining companies as well; we see a lot of potential overlap with the mining industry because they are right on top of these rocks.

Anti-fracking

Eden is currently going through the process of permitting for a mining project in Idaho, in collaboration with Idaho National Labs, Smalls said.

In doing so the company had to submit a public letter explaining the project and addressing environmental concerns.

“We’re employing a new technology that can mitigate all the issues [typically associated with fracking],” Small said.

With electric fracturing of rocks, there is no groundwater contamination or high-pressure water injection that cause the kind of seismic and water quality issues that anger people.

“This isn’t fracking, this is anti-fracking,” Smalls said.
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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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Exclusive: New sustainability hedge fund to raise up to $2bn

A new hedge fund founded by a clean fuels industry veteran is gathering partners to raise up to $2bn initially for deployment into ammonia and other climate-transition technologies.

New Waters Capital, an emerging hedge fund based in New York City, is gathering its primary partners for its first fundraise of between $1bn and $2bn, founder Bill Brown said in an interview.

Brown formerly spent 15 years at North Carolina-based 8 Rivers Capital, which recently announced an ammonia project in Texas. Brown, a co-founder, sold his shares to South Korea’s SK, Inc. in that company’s majority takeover of 8 Rivers last year.

Brown recently created New Waters as a multi-strategy fund manager to invest in publicly traded companies in sustainability, AI, and clean fuels.

“The molecule-based economy is really important, and there’s some companies that have been in the molecule-based economy that are not really sure what they’re doing,” Brown said.

This creates an environment ripe for disruption, he said.

The firm is in the process of selecting its prime brokers, which will help determine the size of New Waters’ fundraises, Brown said. The first raise will be conducted in the next six months, and likely not be larger than $2bn to start.

New Waters’ law firm is Seward & Kissel.
The Wild West of molecules

Of all hydrogen produced in the US, about 65% is used for fertilizer production, Brown said. In Japan, where hydrogen is being co-fired with coal, replacing all coal-fired generation with ammonia would require 10 times the current ammonia production of the US.

“The market for molecules is so big, and yet the largest producer in the US of ammonia is CF Industries.” That company has one plant in Louisiana that represents roughly one third of total US ammonia production. “So CF is tiny compared to the opportunities out there.”

Brown said he is looking for the companies that are going to be the Valero and Phillips 66 of ammonia refining. He believes 8 Rivers is on track for something like that.

“We look at companies like that,” he said. “I think that entire market is up for grabs right now; it’s a whole new market.”

 Companies that can seize that market are the companies that are going to be part of the energy system of the future.

“In many respects right now, we’re in the Wild West, if you will, of the molecules of the future,” Brown said.

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