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Mexico methanol project to use local wastewater

Transition Industries has agreed with local water authorities to use wastewater for a green and blue methanol facility in Sinaloa, Mexico.

Transition Industries LLC announced that it has signed a multi-year agreement with the Ahome Municipality’s Drinking Water and Sewage Board (JAPAMA) to use municipal wastewater for all water resource needs for its Pacifico Mexinol project, a 6,145 MT per day methanol production facility near Topolobampo, Sinaloa, Mexico.

When it initiates operations, Pacifico Mexinol, is expected to be the largest single ultra-low carbon methanol facility in the world – producing approximately 300,000 MT of green methanol from captured carbon and green hydrogen, and 1.8 million MT of blue methanol annually from natural gas with carbon capture, according to a news release. Furthermore, the water solution is expected to be the world’s largest application of industrial water reuse from municipal effluent.

Pacifico Mexinol’s purpose-driven water strategy, designed in partnership with JAPAMA, will allow the facility to completely avoid impacting the Bay of Ohuira. Instead of using seawater and other natural sources of water – which could compete with local agriculture, industrial, commercial and/or residential freshwater needs – Mexinol’s water solution uses municipal wastewater which will be treated and recycled back to the municipal wastewater facility. This closed loop water system will also prevent more than 12 million tons per annum of wastewater being disposed of into the Bay of Ohuira.

Pacifico Mexinol will pay JAPAMA a tariff per cubic meter of wastewater as determined by state law, thus enabling JAPAMA to commercialize its wastewater and strengthen its financial position. The agreement also includes upgrades and improvements to JAPAMA’s water treatment facility.

Rommel Gallo, the CEO of Transition Industries, commented: “We are pleased to have developed a sustainable water solution in partnership with JAPAMA that is not only a model for how to address climate change head-on but also shows how industry and government can work together for sustainable solutions, benefiting both the community and business.”

Transition Industries’ mission is to actively participate in the transition to a low-carbon world by leveraging technology and innovation to produce methanol safely and efficiently while minimizing any negative environmental and social impacts.

“Years of community and municipal engagement has led to the development of a set of purpose-driven design solutions, like our wastewater strategy, aligned with our core values. We will not impact the Bay; our facility is Net Zero to avoid pollution; we use clean and renewable energy; and we promote economic development aligned with the interests of communities,” says Tom Roche, Head of ESG for Transition Industries.

Pacifico Mexinol is expected to reach FID in 2024 and commercial operations in late-2027 to early-2028. The project will generate a significant number of local jobs during construction and operations.

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DAC firm closes $80m Series A

The firm, CarbonCapture, added multiple strategic investors in the raise including Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Aramco Ventures, and Siemens Financial Services.

CarbonCapture Inc. (CarbonCapture), a leading US-based direct air capture (DAC) company, today announced the successful completion of its $80m Series A financing following the addition of multiple strategic investors that include Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Aramco Ventures, and Siemens Financial Services, according to a news release.

The financing was led by Prime Movers Lab, a leading investor in breakthrough scientific startups, with participation from Idealab X, Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures, Neotribe Ventures, Alumni Ventures, and several other venture investors. Funds will be used to further technology development and to field early installations of CarbonCapture’s modular DAC systems.

“To realize our ambitious mission to decarbonize the atmosphere, it’s imperative that we marshal the capabilities of the global industrial community,” said Adrian Corless, CEO of CarbonCapture Inc. “That’s why I’m so excited to welcome our new strategic investors—the unparalleled logistics and supply chain prowess of Amazon, the world-class capabilities of Aramco Ventures, and the digital transformation and energy transition expertise of Siemens will be pivotal to helping us scale DAC in the coming years. We also want to thank our existing investors for their continued belief and support. Together, we’re stepping closer to a cleaner, healthier planet for future generations.”

CarbonCapture develops, manufactures, and deploys highly scalable solid sorbent DAC systems based on its patented modular open systems architecture. To date, the company has pre-sold over $26m in carbon removal credits to many of the world’s leading companies, including Microsoft, Boston Consulting Group, Alphabet, Meta, Stripe, Shopify, McKinsey & Company, and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Aemetis closes $25m USDA loan to fund eight additional projects

When completed, the biogas digesters for the combined 15 dairies are designed to produce more than 400,000 MMBtus per year of carbon negative renewable natural gas.

Aemetis, Inc., a renewable natural gas and renewable fuels company focused on negative carbon intensity products, has closed its second $25m, 20-year term loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a total of $50m of Aemetis Biogas project financing arranged by Greater Commercial Lending (GCL) in the past nine months.

The Aemetis Biogas Central Dairy RNG Project is now fully funded to build biogas digesters and related assets for eight additional dairies using the $9.4m of equity financing already provided by Aemetis and the $25m of new debt financing guaranteed by the USDA. Magnolia Bank of Elizabethtown, Kentucky provided the primary funding for the $25 million loan to Aemetis Biogas 2, LLC (AB-2), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aemetis, Inc, according to a news release.

“The USDA Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) provides long term, 20-year financing that enables the construction of projects that improve air quality and reduce carbon pollution such as the Aemetis Biogas Central Dairy Digester Project,” stated Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis. “We appreciate the good working relationship that has been developed with the team at Greater Commercial Lending and we are pleased to have Magnolia Bank as the new primary lender for the AB-2 phase of the project.”

Aemetis Biogas has built and is fully operating dairy biogas digesters for seven dairies, a 40-mile biogas pipeline, the central biogas-to-RNG production facility and the PG&E gas utility interconnection unit. When completed, the biogas digesters for the combined 15 dairies are designed to produce more than 400,000 MMBtus per year of carbon negative renewable natural gas.

The long-term, 20-year project financing was guaranteed by the USDA through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and carries approximately an 8.75% fixed interest rate for the first five years. With two REAP loans closed and three more REAP loans in process, Aemetis Biogas is currently arranging $125 million of 20-year debt funding for the development, construction and operation of the Aemetis Central Dairy Digester project which has already signed 37 dairies and plans to build digesters for 65 dairies within the next 60 months.

Aemetis Biogas is building passive solar anaerobic digesters at dairies to capture biomethane from animal waste. After removal of key contaminants and gas pressurization at the dairy, a biogas pipeline connects the dairies to a central facility located at the Keyes ethanol plant where the biogas is converted into below zero carbon intensity RNG. The RNG is tested and odorized in an interconnection unit, then injected into the Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) gas pipeline for delivery to transportation fuel customers throughout California. In addition to delivery of RNG through third parties, Aemetis is building an onsite RNG fueling station to fuel local trucks.

About 25% of the methane emissions in California are emitted from dairy waste lagoons. When fully built, the Aemetis biogas project plans to connect dairy digesters spanning more than 65 dairy farms, producing more than 1,650,000 MMBtu of renewable natural gas from captured dairy methane each year. The project is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to an estimated 6.8 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide over ten years, equal to removing the emissions from approximately 150,000 cars per year.

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Amazon invests in green hydrogen companies

Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund is accelerating efforts to decarbonize global operations through green hydrogen.

Amazon’s USD 2bn Climate Pledge Fund is accelerating efforts to decarbonize global operations through green hydrogen.

The Climate Pledge Fund announced new investments in Electric Hydrogen and Sunfire, two U.S. and European-based developers of electrolyzers, a key technology that makes emissions-free green hydrogen using water and renewable electricity, according to a 13 July press release.

“To curb the climate crisis, we need to continually develop innovative solutions that can scale, whether it’s through the electrification of electric vehicles, investments in nature-based solutions, a decarbonized electric grid, or increased production of green hydrogen,” said Kara Hurst, vice president of Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon. “We are proud to be investing in visionary companies like Electric Hydrogen and Sunfire that are developing vital technology for the deployment of green hydrogen to help decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors.”

“Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund is a model for corporate investment in pragmatic climate solutions. We are thrilled to have Amazon as a partner in decarbonizing industries like long-haul freight transport and aviation,” said Raffi Garabedian, CEO of Electric Hydrogen. “Amazon and The Climate Pledge Fund have a clear and expansive vision of the role that green hydrogen will play in decarbonizing their operations. We look forward to collaborating on fossil-free hydrogen projects as we advance toward commercialization.”

“We are proud to welcome Amazon as our investor and look forward to working with a company that has such ambitious climate targets”, said Nils Aldag, CEO of Sunfire. “Green hydrogen is urgently needed to decarbonize and to secure energy supply without fossil fuels. Since 2010, Sunfire has been leading the way in this field. With a unique electrolyzer portfolio and a team of 400 specialists, Sunfire today is one of the few companies capable of providing hydrogen-producing systems on an industrial scale. With Amazon’s help, we want to further scale up our production capacity.”

The Climate Pledge Fund is investing in visionary companies across industries, including transportation and logistics, energy generation, storage and utilization, manufacturing and materials, circular economy, and food and agriculture.

Amazon has now invested in 18 companies, including Rivian, Redwood Materials, Turntide, CarbonCure, Pachama, Infinium, ZeroAvia, BETA Technologies, ION Energy, CMC, Resilient Power, Hippo Harvest, Amogy, Ambient Photonics, Brimstone, Verne, and now Electric Hydrogen and Sunfire. These companies are advancing technologies and business solutions that can help Amazon and others reach net-zero carbon by 2040.

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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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Pharma and fuels tech provider could be ready for public listing

International biotechnology firm Insilico Medicine is applying the algorithms that produce novel drugs to synthesizing more sustainable petrochemical fuels and materials.

Insilico Medicine, a global biotechnology firm serving the pharmaceutical and carbon-based energy industries, could be ready for a public listing in the next phase of its corporate evolution.

Insilico, founded in Baltimore and now based in Hong Kong, has raised about $400m in private capital to date and is in the position of a company that would be exploring a public listing in the US and Hong Kong, CEO Alex Zhavoronkov said in an interview. He declined to say if he has hired a financial advisor to run such a process but said a similar company in his position would have.

The generative AI platform that the company uses to produce novel drugs can be applied to produce more sustainable carbon-based fuels, Zhavoronkov said. The objective is to maximize btu and minimize CO2, making the fuels burn longer and cleaner.

Saudi Arabia’s state oil company Aramco is a user of the technology and participated in Insilico’s $95m Series D (oversubscribed and split between two sub-rounds) last year through its investment arm Prosperity7.

Petrochemistry is going to be needed well into the future, Zhavoronkov said. In addition to renewable energy and other ESG efforts, the efficiency of petrochemicals should be a top priority.

“If you burn certain petrochemicals in certain combinations, you can achieve a reasonably clean burn and an energy efficient burn,” he said. For specific tasks like space travel or Formula 1 racing, combined fuels produce the necessary torque, and generative chemistry can achieve those objectives in a more sustainable way. “I think that we can make the world significantly cleaner just by modifying petrochemical products.”

The technology can also be used to make organic matter in petrochemical products degrade more quickly, which is useful in the case of plastics, Zhavoronkov said.

The company’s AI is primarily based in Montreal and in the drug discovery business in China, but fuel research takes place in Abu Dhabi. Zhavoronkov said he has hired a lot of “AI refugees” from Russia and Ukraine to work at the latter location. The company has 40 employees in the UAE and will likely scale to 70.

Insilico is capitalized for the next two years or so, he said. That doesn’t account for revenue, which closed at just under $30m in 2022. The petrochemical and materials business is under the AI research arm of the business, which is covered by funds raised to date.

“Our board would probably not allow me to reinvent myself as an energy play,” Zhavoronkov said. But the board does not object to applying resources to petrochemical products.

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Avangrid touting green hydrogen opportunity in onshore renewables sale

Advisors selling up to 50% of the company’s US onshore renewables platform are pitching the value-enhancing potential of green hydrogen development in the process.

Avangrid is touting the opportunity to develop a major pipeline of green hydrogen projects as it prepares to collect initial bids for a stake in its US onshore renewables platform, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The Portland, Oregon-based clean energy firm, which is owned by Spain-based Iberdrola, is running a process to sell up to a 50% stake in roughly 9.6 GW of operational projects and an 18 GW development pipeline, the sources said. The process launched in March with Lazard and Rothschild on the sellside.

As part of the platform’s opportunities for value enhancement, the company is promoting the potential for green hydrogen, with a sale teaser noting that parent Iberdrola is a global leader in green hydrogen development with two operational projects and 60 in development.

“[Avangrid] Onshore Renewables intends to leverage this experience to become an early leader in hydrogen project development in the US,” the teaser reads, stating a goal of building out some 900 MW of green hydrogen projects by 2035.

The company is also involved in seven “hydrogen hub” regions in the US: regions participating in the Department of Energy’s grant process for funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.

Avangrid last year signed an MoU with Sempra Infrastructure to develop large-scale green hydrogen and ammonia projects powered by renewable sources. The teaser notes that the company is advancing a flagship joint development project and initiating conversations with offtakers.

The operating renewables portfolio for sale includes 8.7 GW of wind power and some 300 MW of solar in Pennsylvania, Colorado, California, New York, Iowa, and North Carolina, along with the 536 MW Klamath cogeneration plant in Oregon. The development pipeline has roughly 14.2 GW of solar and solar-plus-storage capacity and 3.8 GW of wind.

Avangrid declined to comment. Rothschild and Lazard did not respond to requests for comment.

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