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KBR named project management contractor for bp global hydrogen

The Houston-based engineering firm will provide services required for project delivery, including performance management of individual projects and relevant subcontractors.

KBR has been named the primary integrated project management contractor across BP’s global hydrogen project portfolio, according to a news release.

The Houston-based engineering firm will provide services required for project delivery, including performance management of individual projects and relevant subcontractors.

BP’s project in Wilhelmshaven, Germany is expected to include an ammonia cracker providing up to 130,000 tons of hydrogen from green ammonia per year from 2028.

“The contract scope includes joint contribution to front-end, optimization and execution project phases as well as management support through construction, commissioning and startup for BP’s global hydrogen projects,” the release states. “The contract will commence under the existing global agreement with BP.”

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NGT/NOGAT transitioning North Sea pipelines from gas to H2

The pipeline owners are the first to receive the Certificate of Fitness for the transport of green hydrogen in the North Sea.

Noordgastransport (NGT) and Northern Offshore Gas Transport (NOGAT) are the first pipeline owners to receive the Certificate of Fitness for the transport of green hydrogen through their existing pipelines in the North Sea, according to a press release.

The certificate was issued by Bureau Veritas Inspection & Certification. NGT’s 12-to-14 MW pipeline currently carries natural gas from the UK border to Uithuizen, but is now certified to carry up to 100% hydrogen.

“By making use of existing infrastructure, we are able to make the transition to green hydrogen in the North Sea more swiftly,” Hans Janssen, director at NOGAT, said in the release. “This can be pure hydrogen, but also a temporary mix of natural gas and green hydrogen.”

In 2018 DNV investigated the robustness of the pipelines’ steel, which showed that the steel is suitable and safe for hydrogen transportation. The pipelines are regularly inspected internally and externally to ensure their integrity. A major inspection is conducted every five years. The pipelines are supervised by the State Supervision of Mines. The Certificate of Appropriateness is valid until 2062.

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Strata Clean Energy launches P2X platform

Strata’s initial projects will produce ammonia derived from renewable energy, while future projects will focus on alternative e-fuels.

Strata Clean Energy, a renewable energy developer, is building a Power-to-X (P2X) development and technology platform to decarbonize segments of the modern economy where direct electrification is not viable, according to a news release.

The P2X platform leverages the firm’s state-of-the-art, hourly-matched, renewable energy supply solutions to produce low-carbon hydrogen derivatives (ammonia, e-methane, and SAF) critical to the hardest-to-abate industrial, agricultural, and ocean freight and aviation markets.

“Strata will transform non-dispatchable clean energy into carbon-free alternatives for the modern industrial economy. Our structured power products and merchant BESS development track record underpin our differentiated approach to serving large loads which require hourly matched renewable energy supply,” said Mike Grunow, EVP & general manager, P2X, Strata Clean Energy. “For the past 12 months, we have been actively siting projects in ideal locations for logistics, water rights, permitting, energy cost, and grid interconnection. Our team is quickly advancing site engineering with Tier 1 partners, and we are accelerating talks with long-term buyers of the low-carbon intensity commodities. We are going to make this a reality.”

Strata’s initial projects will produce ammonia derived from renewable energy, while future projects will focus on alternative e-fuels that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions where no other alternative exists. As a 1:1 replacement for natural-gas-derived ammonia, low-carbon-intensity ammonia can be the workhorse of the zero-carbon economy as it lowers the shipment cost of green hydrogen by a factor of 30.

“For the past 15 years, Strata has been instrumental in bringing over 270 utility-scale solar and storage projects online,” commented Markus Wilhelm, Strata’s CEO. “In the coming decade, regional grids will be loaded with unscheduled wind and solar. Converting a fraction of this generation into zero-carbon, alternative fuels is the next step in the global energy transition to a net-zero future.”

In the fourth quarter of 2022, Strata P2X began recruiting a dedicated team of experts from the petrochemical and utility sectors to play critical roles in advancing the company’s ambitious goals. Among the new hires is KJ Plank, Chief Innovation Officer, who is building out the technology, engineering, energy, and procurement teams within P2X at Strata.

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Cleveland-Cliffs CEO: ‘Hydrogen is the future’

The largest producer of flat-rolled steel in North America plans to lean heavily on hydrogen to reduce its carbon footprint.

Cleveland Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves is staking his company’s ability to decarbonize on large-scale use of hydrogen as a reductant in its blast furnaces.

The steelmaker is building a $9m pipeline that will feed hydrogen from the edge of its Indiana Harbor 7 plant into the blast furnace, what Goncalves called the company’s “high water mark” for hydrogen since it is the biggest plant of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

“It’s the biggest blast furnace, the one that we use the most in terms of hydrogen because of its size,” Goncalves said on the company’s earnings call. “And it’s also because it’s our flagship, for instance, our biggest, the biggest in the Western Hemisphere and we are going to use as a demonstration plant for how to use hydrogen” in steelmaking.

Cleveland Cliffs in May completed a hydrogen injection trial at its Middletown Works blast furnace on a smaller scale.

Goncalves said previously that the company committed to offtake 200 tons per day of the 1000-ton-per-day project being developed by bp and Constellation as part of the Midwest Hydrogen Hub located in Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan.

The hub was recently awarded up to $1bn in funding from the US Department of Energy hydrogen hubs program.

“Cliffs’ commitment to buy a large portion of the output from the Midwest hub helped get this location selected by the Department of Energy,” Goncalves said.

“Hydrogen is the future,” he said. “Effectively, all of the current carbon emissions in our footprint are a result of the use of fossil fuel-based reductants or energy sources, where there is no economically feasible alternative,” he added. “Hydrogen can and ultimately will change that.”

He added that the use of hydrogen is very minimally capital intensive if you already have blast furnaces, with only minor plant additions needed, such as the Indiana Harbor pipeline.

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Biomass technology company launching US projects

Comstock Inc, a biomass technology company, is gearing up to build a fleet of plants that will use yield-enhancing technology to convert woody biomass into clean fuels.

Comstock Inc, a biomass technology company, is gearing up to build a fleet of plants that will use yield-enhancing new technology to process woody biomass into an intermediate product that can be further refined into clean fuels.

The company, traditionally a miner focused on gold and silver mining in Nevada, has been transformed into a technology innovator seeking to build, own, and operate a portfolio of carbon neutral extraction and refining facilities in the US, CEO Corrado De Gasperis said in an interview.

“We’re finalizing all of our documentation on readiness and engineering, and then we’ll be working to select an EPC, and then we’ll be ready to bond and finance,” he said.

Comstock, which trades on the NYSE, is currently engaged in the process of securing access to feedstock, and has mapped out nine regions in the U.S. which, combined, produce between 85 – 100 million tons of woody biomass residuals per year.

In parallel, the company is seeking to incentivize growth of trees like hybrid poplar that can be used as feedstock in the future, De Gasperis said. “We’re going to be building the backend of the supply chain with a feedstock strategy, accessing existing residuals, and then building these facilities,” he added.

In Minnesota, for example, there are around 300 sawmills with no place to send their sawdust and excess woodchips following the closure of several wood-to-energy plants, said David Winsness, a president at Comstock.

“Those are the materials that shouldn’t be sitting there – we should be converting them into fuel,” Winsness said.

Building plants

The company has set an objective to generate “billions” in revenue by 2030 – something it would achieve largely through building and operating the woody biomass plants near where the feedstock is located. Comstock also sells related services and licenses selected technologies to strategic partners.

Using simple math, Comstock could achieve its revenue goal by building and operating 10 facilities that produce approximately 1 million tons of clean fuels per year.

A plant producing 1 million tons per year would require capex of between $600m – $750m to build, and would likely be constructed using a project finance funding model, De Gasperis said. The company has not yet selected a financial advisor.

De Gasperis believes large refiners will want to co-build the facilities along with Comstock – which could also entail a strategic equity investment from the selected refiner and lead to a faster construction process.

“Speed and throughput is the goal,” he said, noting that the company has been engaged with roughly 12 of the large clean fuels refiners on a potential partnership. “The faster we’re producing these carbon-neutral gallons, the faster we’re decarbonizing, and the faster we’re making money.”

The company has private equity funds and infrastructure funds on their radar as potential investors but has not engaged with them yet.

The other half

Comstock’s technological breakthrough comes in its ability to produce a biointermediary – called bioleum – from a part of the woody biomass that is not cellulose, and which can be used to produce drop-in fuels. (Importantly, under new EPA rules implemented in June 2022, biointermediaries such as bioleum can be sold on to refiners, whereas previous rules required co-location with the refineries.)

“Cellulose only counts for 50% of a tree,” said Winsness. “For every gallon of fuel generated from cellulose, we’re getting another gallon from the byproduct. It’s a huge change for the industry to be able to get that much more throughput from the same amount of biomass.”

The Department of Energy recently issued a funding opportunity for projects that can produce more than 60 gallons of ethanol from 1 ton of wood feedstock, De Gasperis said.

“We saw that and we said, ‘We’re already there. We can do much more,’” he added.

Comstock can currently produce about 70 gallons of ethanol from 1 ton of wood, using cellulose. Meanwhile, with the non-cellulose half of the wood in 1 ton of feedstock, the technology can produce an additional 30 – 40 gallons of renewable diesel or aviation fuel.

The company has partnered on a process to convert ethanol to drop-in fuel, with the ultimate goal of producing 100 gallons of drop-in fuels from 1 ton of wood feedstock, according to De Gasperis. “All of our development is to stabilize the breakthrough we had on the bioleum – the heavy cellulose components of the wood is where our technology breaks through and shatters this.”

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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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Denver green ammonia firm prepping series C capital raise

A green ammonia developer and technology provider is laying the groundwork for a series C capital raise later this year, and still deliberating on a site for its first project.

Starfire Energy, a Denver-based green ammonia producer, is wrapping up a series B capital raise and laying the groundwork for a series C later this year, CEO Joe Beach said in an interview.

The company completed a $6.5m series A in 2021 and finished a $24m series B last year. Investors include Samsung Ventures, AP Ventures, Çalık Enerji, Chevron Technology Ventures, Fund for Sustainability and Energy, IHI Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Osaka Gas USA, Pavilion Capital and the Rockies Venture Club.

Beach declined to state a target figure for the upcoming raise. The firm has not used a financial advisor to date.

Starfire is currently deliberating on locations for its first production facility to come online in 2026, Beach said. Colorado is a primary contender due to ammonia demand, while the Great Plains offer abundant wind energy.

The firm’s strategy is to use renewable energy and surplus nuclear power from utilities to create ammonia from hydrogen with no storage component, eliminating the problems associated with hydrogen storage and transportation.

Targeted offtake industries include agriculture, maritime shipping and peaking power fuel consumption.

“The demand is global,” Beach said, stating that he expects about 150 leads to convert to MOUs. “We get inbound interest every week.”

For future capital raising, Beach said the company could take on purely financial investors, as it already has a long list of strategic investors.

“The expectation is we will wind up with manufacturing plants around the world,” Beach said.

The “new petroleum”

Many hydrogen production projects have been announced worldwide in the last year.

Beach said he expects many of those to transition into ammonia production projects, as ammonia is much easier to export.

Now, Starfire is working on developing its ammonia cracking technology, which converts ammonia into an ammonia/hydrogen blend at the point of use for chemical processes. The final product form in that process is 70% ammonia, 22.5% hydrogen and 7.5% nitrogen – all free of emissions.

The company is using proceeds of its series B capital raise to develop its Rapid Ramp and Prometheus Fire systems. Rapid Ramp uses a modular system design for the production of green ammonia using air, water, and renewable energy as the sole inputs. Prometheus Fire is an advanced cracking system that converts ammonia into hydrogen, operating at lower temperatures than other crackers and creating cost-effective ammonia-hydrogen blends that can replace natural gas.

The advantage to using this technology is that it makes the export of a hydrogen product financially feasible, Beach said.

“You should see ammonia becoming the new petroleum,” he said of the global industry. Ammonia can be deployed internationally like oil and provide the dependability of coal.

Eventually Starfire will undergo a financial exit, Beach said. Likely that will mean an acquisition, but an IPO is also on the table.

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