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Lummus launches ethanol-based SAF technology

The company has made its ethanol to SAF process technology commercially available.

Lummus Technology, a global provider of process technologies and value-driven energy solutions, announced the commercial availability of its ethanol to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) process technology, according to a news release.

The technology provides operators with a large-scale, commercially demonstrated solution to reduce the aviation industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“Lummus’ extensive commercial experience in all steps, including conversion of ethanol feedstock and production of the SAF process, gives us a unique advantage to help our customers produce sustainable fuels,” said Leon de Bruyn, president and Chief Executive Officer of Lummus Technology. “Our process leverages proven, commercial-scale technologies that we integrate to meet the aviation industry’s growing demand for SAF and support its decarbonization efforts.”

Lummus’ ethanol to SAF technology offers a safe and reliable solution by integrating ethanol to ethylene (EtE), olefin oligomerization and hydrogenation technologies in a process configuration that maximizes the final yield to SAF while minimizing CAPEX, OPEX and carbon emissions.
Central to this process is Lummus and Braskem’s technology partnership for producing green ethylene, which accelerates the use of bioethanol and supports the industry’s efforts towards a carbon neutral economy. Since 2010, Braskem has been operating an ethanol dehydration unit in Brazil. Using EtE EverGreen™ technology, the unit provides a proven and reliable foundation for producing 260 kilotons per year of ethylene from ethanol. Lummus has integrated this world-scale dehydration process with its light olefins oligomerization and advanced hydroprocessing technologies through Chevron Lummus Global, a joint venture with Chevron.

This integrated offering makes the entire ethanol to SAF value chain available for exclusive licensing by Lummus.

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Insurer launches world’s first facility for green and blue hydrogen project risks

The facility provides up to USD 300m of cover per risk for the construction and start up phases of hydrogen projects globally.

Insurance broker Marsh has launched a first-of-its-kind facility to provide dedicated insurance capacity for new and existing green and blue hydrogen energy projects, according to a press release.

Developed in collaboration with insurers Liberty Specialty Markets, part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, and AIG, the facility provides up to USD 300m of cover per risk for the construction and start up phases of hydrogen projects globally.

Investment in green and blue hydrogen initiatives is estimated to exceed USD 150bn by 2025 but operators have found it hard to secure adequate insurance market provision for these technologies.

Marsh’s facility is backed by a panel of A-rated global insurers, led by LSM and AIG. It is structured flexibly to enable clients – from small operators to multinational organizations – to choose coverage for the construction or startup phase, or a combined risks policy that extends to first year operations.

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Honda to produce fuel cell-electric CR-V in Ohio

It will mark North America’s first production vehicle to combine a plug-in feature with FCEV technology in one model, according to the company.

Honda today announced that it will produce an all-new hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) based on the recently launched, all-new Honda CR-V starting in 2024 at its Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Marysville, Ohio, according to a press release.

This new zero-emissions vehicle will contribute to Honda’s previously announced goal to make battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and FCEVs represent 100% of its global auto sales by 2040, according to a press release.

The new CR-V-based FCEV also will mark North America’s first production vehicle to combine a plug-in feature with FCEV technology in one model, which enables the driver to charge the onboard battery to deliver EV driving around town with the flexibility of fast hydrogen refueling for longer trips.

“Honda established our goal to realize carbon neutrality by 2050 and the complete electrification of our vehicle lineup by 2040 is critical to achieving it,” said Gary Robinson, vice president of Auto Planning & Strategy for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “As we accelerate our plan to produce Honda battery EVs in the United States, we also will begin low volume production of fuel cell electric vehicles there to further explore their great potential as part of a sustainable transportation future.”

The PMC was conceived as a small volume, specialty manufacturing facility, focused on craftsmanship and hand-assembled vehicles. Since opening in 2016, the PMC has been responsible for production of the Acura NSX supercar, multiple Acura PMC Edition vehicles (including TLX, RDX and MDX) along with Honda Performance Development race cars. This makes the PMC uniquely suited to production of high-quality FCEVs, which require special assembly procedures. This approach echoes the broad role that Honda’s Tochigi, Japan plant played in manufacturing both the original NSX supercar starting in 1989 and, later, the Honda FCX Clarity FCEV in 2008.

“Our associates at the Performance Manufacturing Center have really enjoyed the opportunity to successfully introduce several specialty vehicles into the market,” said PMC plant leader Gail May. “This facility is perfect for production of a new Honda fuel cell electric vehicle, as our small-volume capability enables us to really leverage the skill and expertise of our team to produce quality zero-emission vehicles here in North America.”

As America’s best-selling CUV of the past quarter century, the Honda CR-V will provide an excellent foundation for a FCEV, adding zero emissions and EV performance characteristics to its fun-to-drive personality, sporty styling, and outstanding utility, while retaining generous passenger and cargo spaces, the release states.

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HY24 hires new managing director

The former head of EDF Pulse Ventures will head up Hy24’s latest investment initiative dedicated to scaling-up clean hydrogen technologies and equipment manufacturers.

Hy24, the hydrogen-focused French and American private equity JV, has hired Guillaume Lesueur as Managing Director, according to a news release.

Guillaume, former head of EDF Pulse Ventures, will head upHy24’s latest investment initiative dedicated to scaling-up clean hydrogen technologies and equipment manufacturers.  

Hy24 is a joint venture established in 2021 by FiveTHydrogen and Ardian. Its first fund – Clean Hydrogen Infrastructure, or “InfraFund” – is targeted at building out the hydrogen infrastructure market. The fund has raised EUR 2bn and has made four investments. More than 50 LPs are involved.

The new investment initiative led by Guillaume will focus on supporting the technology and equipment manufacturing capacities needed to meet the demand for hydrogen across the global supply chain, the release states.

“With over one thousand large-scale hydrogen projects announced worldwide as of the end of January 2023, demand for equipment far exceeds available supply capacity,” the release states. “From upstream to downstream, the manufacturing of hydrogen production, conversion, distribution, retail, storage, and end-use equipment therefore needs rapid acceleration.”

The equipment market is estimated to reach $190bn by 2030.

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EXCLUSIVE: 8 Rivers co-founder departs firm

A co-founder and executive has departed the North Carolina-based firm, which recently announced an ammonia project in Texas.

Bill Brown, a co-founder of the technology commercialization firm and clean fuels developer 8 Rivers Capital, has retired from the company, a spokesperson confirmed via email.
According to Brown’s LinkedIn profile, he is serving now as CEO of New Waters Capital. He co-founded 8 Rivers and also served as CEO and CTO in this nearly 16 years there.
Brown did not respond to a request for comment.
According to 8 Rivers’ website, Dharmesh Patel is serving as interim CEO. The company recently announced development of the Cormorant Clean Energy ammonia production facility in Port Arthur, Texas
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Turnt up about turndown ratios

Optimizing electrolysis for renewables depends not just on how far you can turn the machine up, but how far you can turn it down. We asked electrolyzer makers: how low can you go?

Optimizing electrolysis for renewables depends not just on how far you can turn the machine up, but how far you can turn it down.

A consensus is growing around the importance of turndown ratios for electrolyzers, with a variety of use cases for green hydrogen requiring the machines to be run at low levels during periods of high power pricing.

Proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers are known for their ability to quickly ramp production up and down, but manufacturers of all stripes have begun to tout their technologies’ turndown ratios, with implications for capital costs and the levelized cost of producing hydrogen from renewable power.

Simply put, some electrolyzer plant operators will likely seek to lower hydrogen production during periods of high power pricing, since the cost of electricity is the largest operating expense. But cycling the electrolyzers completely off and on can lead to added system degradation, giving importance to the ability of the machines to run at low levels.

A study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analyzes a US grid buildout through 2050, noting favorable locations and seasonality for power pricing as something of a guideline for green hydrogen development. The study notes that the lowest achievable turndown ratio is a main factor in minimizing hydrogen levelized cost along with the number of hours a system can operate at that minimum level – something that applies to all types of electrolyzers.

“When you start to look at hourly costs from the data in different locations, you see that all of this renewable buildout is going to create opportunities in given locations where you going to have a lot of renewable generation and not a lot of load on the system and that’s going to drive the cost for that energy down,” said Alex Badgett, an author of the study at NREL.

To be sure, the fast-moving technological environment for electrolysis leaves open the possibility for efficiency gains and disruptive innovation. And a variety of factors – balance of plant, energy efficiency, system degradation – also influence plant economics. But the lowest possible turndown ratios will drive opportunities for green hydrogen developers, Badgett said.

ReSource reviewed available spec sheets for electrolyzer providers and asked every maker of PEM and SOEC systems to detail the turndown capabilities of their machines. Alkaline electrolyzers were left out of the analysis given their more limited load flexibility, as their separators are less effective at preventing potentially dangerous cross-diffusion of gasses. Some manufacturers are fully transparent regarding turndown ranges while others declined to comment or did not reply to inquiries.

‘Not trivial’

In designing projects, developers are analyzing hourly energy supply schedules and pairing the outlook with what is known about available technology options.

“Some electrolyzers like to operate at half power, and others like to operate at full power, and in any given system, you can have between 10 and 50 electrolyzers wired and plumbed in parallel,” said Mike Grunow, who leads the Power-to-X platform at Strata Clean Energy.

“Our thought process even goes down to: let’s say you have to operate the H2 plant at 25% throughput. Do you operate all of the electrolyzers at 25%, or do you turn 75% of the electrolyzers off and only operate 25% at full power?”

The difference in the schemes, he added, is “not trivial as each technology has different efficiency curves and drivers of degradation.”

Different use cases for the hydrogen derivative, meanwhile, lead to different natural selection of technologies, Grunow said, adding that the innovation cycle is now happening every 12 months, requiring a close eye on advances in technology. 

Electrolyzer start-up Electric Hydrogen, a maker of PEM electrolyzers, is commercializing a 100 MW system that can turn down to 10%, according to Jason Mortimer, SVP of global sales at the company.

HyAxium, another start-up, can turn its system down to 10%, according to its materials. Norway-based Hystar, which recently announced plans to build a plant in the US, also promotes a 10% turndown ratio.

A more established PEM electrolyzer provider, Cummins, advertises turndown ratios of 5% for its machines. Sungrow Power, a China-based manufacturer, similarly advertises 5% for PEM electrolyzers.

Siemens Energy has a minimum turndown ratio per stack of 40%, but for a single system it can be less in exceptional cases, according to Claudia Nehring, a company spokesperson.

“We focus on large systems” – greater than 100 MW – “and currently consider this value to be appropriate, taking into account the optimization between efficiency, degradation and dynamics, but are working on an improvement,” she said via email.

ITM Power declined to provide details but said its turndown capabilities are “to be expected” for a market leader in this technology. Materials from German-based H-Tec Systems note a modulation rate down to 10%.

Additional PEM makers Nel, Ohmium, Elogen, H2B2, Hoeller Electrolyzer, Plug Power, Shanghai Electric, and Teledyne Energy Systems did not respond to requests for information.

PEM alternatives

Other forms of electrolysis can also ramp dynamically. And some project developers point to PEM’s use of iridium, part of the platinum metals family, as a drawback due to potential scarcity issues.

Verdagy, for example, has developed an advanced alkaline water electrolysis (AWE) system called eDynamic that it says takes the best of PEM and alkaline technologies while designing out the downsides.

The company’s technology “addresses the barriers that limited traditional AWE adoption by using single-element cells that can operate efficiently at high current densities,” executives said in response to emailed questions. 

“The ability to operate at very high current densities, coupled with a balance of stack and balance of plant optimized for dynamic operation, allow Verdagy’s electrolyzers to operate across a very broad range spanning 0.1-2.0 A/cm2,” they said.

In other words, the machine can turn down to 5%, part of the design that enables operators “to modulate production to take advantage of time-of-day pricing and/or fluctuations in energy production.”

Meanwhile, German-based Thysenkrupp Nucera, another maker of advanced water electrolyzers, advertises a 10% turndown ratio.

SOEC

A relatively new electrolysis technology, the solid oxide electrolyzer cell has also proven to be capable of low turndown ratios. Solid oxide electrolysis is particularly attractive when paired with high-temperature industrial processes, where heat can be captured and fed back into the high-temperature SOEC process, making it more efficient.

Joel Moser, the CEO of First Ammonia, said he chose SOEC from Denmark-based Haldor Topsoe in part because the machines can be turned completely off with no degradation, as long as you keep them warm.

“Generally speaking we expect to ramp up and ramp down between 100% and 10%,” he said. “We can turn them off as long as we keep them warm, and then we can turn them right back on.”

Still, SOEC systems are not without challenges.

“Low stack power and high operating temperature, which in turn requires more ancillary equipment to operate the electrolyzer, are widely viewed as the main drawbacks of SOEC technology,” according to a report from the Clean Air Task Force, which explores SOEC technology and its commercial prospects. “SOEC systems are also considered to have a shorter operating life due to thermal stress.”

Additional makers of SOEC machines Bloom Energy, Ceres, Elcogen, Genvia, SolydERA, and Toshiba did not respond to inquiries.

At NREL, researchers are watching for more automation and scale in the electrolyzer production process to bring costs down. Increasing efficiency through balance-of-plant improvements is another opportunity to reduce system costs.

In addition, more analysis of how large electrolyzer projects will impact the future electrical grid is required, according to Badgett.

The NREL team modeled the hourly marginal cost at any given time in any location in the US, but the model assumes that the electrolyzer takes energy without impacting the cost of energy.

“When we start to get to gigawatt-scale electrolysis,” he said, “that’s going to significantly impact prices, as well as how the grid is going to build out.”

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Inside Intersect Power’s green hydrogen plans

California-based renewable energy developer Intersect Power anticipates huge capital needs for a quartet of regional energy complexes co-locating wind and solar with green hydrogen production in the Texas Gulf Coast, California and the American West.

Intersect Power, a solar developer that completed a $750m capital raise last year, is developing four large-scale green hydrogen projects that could eventually be spun off into a separate company, CEO Sheldon Kimber said in an interview.

Four regional complexes of 1 GW or more, co-located with renewables, are in development, he said. The first phases of those, totaling several hundred megawatts, will come online between 2026 and 2028.

Initial offtake markets include transportation, sustainable aviation fuel, and hydrogen for industrial use, Kimber said. Ultimately Intersect is aiming to serve ammonia exporters in the US Gulf Coast, particularly those exporting to Japan, Kimber said, adding that the company could contract with ammonia producers. He recently wrapped up a nine-day, fact-finding trip to Japan to better understand what he believes will be the end market for Intersect’s green ammonia.

“If you don’t know who your customer’s customer is, you’re going to get a bad deal,” Kimber said.

Intersects projects under development involve behind-the-meter electrolysis, co-located with Intersect’s wind and solar generation plants. In 2021 the company signed an MOU with electrolyzer manufacturer Electric Hydrogen. The contract is for 3 GW.

Intersect controls the land and is in the process of permitting the four projects, located in Texas, California and another western US location that Kimber declined to name. The primary focus now is commercial development of the offtake and transportation, he said.

‘Boatload of equity’

Kimber said the company will be ready to announced details of the projects when they are ready to seek financing. He estimates that upwards of $12bn will need to be raised for the package of complexes.

“There’s going to be an enormous need for capital,” Kimber said. Debt will make up between 60% and 90% of the raising, along with “a boatload of equity,” he said. Existing investors will likely participate, but as the numbers get bigger new investors will be brought on board.

Intersect has worked with BofA Securities and Morgan Stanley on past capital raise processes, and also has strong relationships with MUFG and Santander.

Moving forward the company could have a broader need for advisory services and could lend knowledge of the sector in an advisory capacity itself, Kimber said.

“The scope and scale of what we’re doing is big enough and the innovative aspect of what we’re doing is advanced enough that I think we have a lot we can bring to these early-stage financings,” Kimber said. “I think we’re going to be a good partner for advisory shops.”

In the short term Intersect has sufficient equity from its investors and is capitalized for the next 18-to-24 months, Kimber said. Last summer the company announced a $750m raise from TPG Rise Climate, CAI Investments and Trilantic Energy Partners North America.

“People don’t want to pay ahead for the growth in fuels,” Kimber said, adding that reaching commercial milestones will build a compelling valuation.

Intersect could spin off its hydrogen developments to capitalize them apart from renewables, Kimber said.

“Every single company in this space is looking at that,” he said. “Do you independently finance your fuels business?”

Avoiding the hype

Right now the opportunity to participate in hydrogen is blurry because there is so much hype following passage of the IRA, Kimber said. Prospective investors should be focused on picking the right partners.

“What you’re seeing right now is everybody believing the best thing for them,” Kimber said, noting that his company has decided to keep relatively quiet about its activities in the clean fuels space to avoid getting caught up in hype. “The IRA happened, and every electrolyzer company raised their prices by fifty percent.”

Of those companies that have announced hydrogen projects in North America, Kimber said he believes only a handful will be successful. Those companies that have successfully developed renewables projects of more than 500 MW are good candidates, as are companies that have managed to keep a fluid supply chain with equipment secured for the next five years.

“That is a very short list,” he said.

Lenders on the debt side will want to start determining how projects will get financed, and which projects to finance, in the next 18 months, Kimber said.

Finding those who have been innovating on the front-end for years and not just jumped in recently is a good start, Kimber said.

“Hydrogen will happen, make no mistake,” Kimber said. He pointed to the recent European directive that 45% of hydrogen on the continent be green by 2030 and Japan’s upcoming directive to potential similar effect. Once good projects reach critical points in their development they will start to trade, probably in late 2024, he said.

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