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Southwest Airlines launches venture initiative, invests in LanzaJet

As part of its agreement with Southwest, LanzaJet intends to build an ethanol-to-SAF facility to produce SAF primarily for the airline.

Southwest Airlines Co. has launched Southwest Airlines Renewable Ventures (SARV), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines dedicated to creating more opportunities for Southwest to obtain scalable sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), a critical component in the success of the carrier’s goal to replace 10% of its total jet fuel consumption with SAF by 2030.

The carrier also made a $30 million investment in LanzaJet, Inc., a SAF technology provider and producer with a patented ethanol-to-SAF technology and the world’s first ethanol-to-SAF commercial plant, as part of the SARV investment portfolio, according to a news release.

“Our launch of SARV and our investment in LanzaJet demonstrate that we are not sitting on the sidelines. Rather, we’re in the game by taking proactive, disciplined steps toward securing affordable SAF for Southwest, as we continue to march toward our goal of net zero by 2050,” said Bob Jordan, President & CEO of Southwest Airlines. “We look forward to working with companies and organizations developing important technology, like LanzaJet, which could help us meet our SAF goals.”

Southwest will continue to work with SAF producers to enter into SAF offtake agreements, while SARV will focus on managing Southwest’s SAF-related investments, including the carrier’s previously announced equity investment in SAFFiRE Renewables (SAFFiRE). SAFFiRE has been working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and has a license agreement and certain exclusivity rights to this technology for the production of cellulosic ethanol. This technology is an important component in converting corn stover, a widely available agricultural residue feedstock in the U.S., to cellulosic ethanol that can then be converted to SAF using LanzaJet’s technology.

Additionally, as part of its agreement with Southwest, LanzaJet intends to build an ethanol-to-SAF facility to produce SAF primarily for Southwest. The planned facility includes capabilities to convert SAFFiRE’s cellulosic ethanol into SAF, which can produce greater quantities of SAF from SAFFiRE ethanol over time.

“SARV’s goal is to help scale SAF through strategic investments, better positioning Southwest to have access to high quality, affordable SAF in accordance with the robust standards of Southwest’s SAF policy,” said Tom Nealon, President of SARV and CEO of SAFFiRE. “Through SARV’s investment in LanzaJet, we’re also entering the next phase in the commercialization of SAFFiRE technology, which is designed to support the production of cellulosic ethanol that can be converted to SAF.”

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Methane-to-value firm raises $28m

Windfall Bio, a provider of methane-to-value solutions, has raised $28m led by Prelude Ventures with participation from Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund and others.

Windfall Bio, a provider of methane-to-value solutions, announced its $28m Series A funding round led by Prelude Ventures with participation from Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Global Brain (through its Norinchukin Innovation Fund L.P.), Incite Ventures, and Positive Ventures.

Existing investors also participated in the round, including B37 Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Mayfield, and UNTITLED (a fund backed by the Tetra Laval family), according to a news release.

Supporting its commercial pipeline, the new capital will enable Windfall to expand pilot deployments across methane intensive industries including agriculture, oil and gas, and waste management. Windfall will also invest resources to continue building out its team, manufacturing capacity and supply chain to meet growing global customer demand for methane mitigation solutions.

Windfall’s solution addresses methane emissions by capturing methane for a low, all-in cost while producing on-site, high quality fertilizer for customers to use or sell.

“While addressing methane emissions is the most impactful strategy available today to tackle near-term climate change, it has remained a critically underappreciated and underfunded problem for global warming, only recently gaining significant attention in climate discussions,” said Josh Silverman, co-founder and CEO of Windfall Bio. “However, methane represents an important resource that can create significant value for customers if they are given the right tools. We’ve seen early commercial traction and with the support of our strategic investors, Windfall will empower customers across industries to eliminate harmful methane emissions and create valuable outputs in return.”

Windfall’s nature-based solution harnesses methane-eating microbes—referred to as mems—that capture methane from any source while also capturing nitrogen from the air to produce organic fertilizer on customers’ sites. For agriculture and industrial customers, mems create value by improving soil health, enabling emissions tracking and reporting, improving resource efficiency, and generating new revenue streams from the sale of organic fertilizer.

Windfall exited stealth in March 2023 with a $9m seed raise. The Series A funding brings the company’s total fundraising amount to $37m and further validates the need and promise for its methane mitigation solution across multiple industries. The Series A builds on several milestones the company achieved in the last year, including building out its executive team and Board of Advisors to support Windfall’s go-to-market strategy

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Texas ethylene-to-alkylate facility comes online

ECP-backed Next Wave Energy Partners brought the facility online in the Houston Ship Channel, and has plans for a second facility that will convert renewable feedstocks into building blocks for plastics and SAF.

Next Wave Energy Partners, LP, a portfolio company of Energy Capital Partners (ECP), today announced that its alkylate production facility, known as Project Traveler and located adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel in Pasadena, Texas, has achieved commercial operations.

“We are extremely pleased that this innovative facility is now producing what we believe to be the world’s highest quality alkylate product,” said Next Wave Executive Chairman Patrick Diamond in a news release. “Although the composition of global energy supplies will evolve over many years, Next Wave is firmly positioned to deliver drop-in solutions that improve energy efficiency and reliability and contribute to the decarbonization of our planet both now and into the future.”

Alkylate is a valuable gasoline blending component that typically comprises 10% to 15% of the overall gasoline pool in the United States. Alkylate is prized for its clean properties – high octane, low vapor pressure and low sulfur content. Next Wave’s alkylate product, marketed under the trade name Optimate, offers qualities superior to traditional refinery alkylate because it can be produced with 96.0 road octane (98.0+ Research Octane Number), a low 3.5 Reid vapor pressure and five parts per million or less of sulfur. Importantly, Optimate, produced without using crude oil, has a lower carbon intensity than traditional refinery alkylate.

“The performance of our Project Traveler facility has exceeded our expectations and there is strong market demand for our lower carbon intensity Optimate product,” said Next Wave President and CEO Michael Bloesch. “The Next Wave platform – anchored by Project Traveler – is well positioned for cost-effective expansions of Optimate production capacity, while also retaining the optionality to vertically integrate into upstream renewable feedstocks and downstream renewable chemical and fuels products.”

In addition to commencing engineering work for debottlenecks of and capacity additions to the Project Traveler facility, Next Wave is also in the development stage for a second project. The project, known as Project Lightning, would leverage the existing assets and enhance the optionality of the Next Wave platform by converting renewable feedstocks into chemical building blocks for use in the manufacturing of a variety of specialty products, from net zero carbon plastics to sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Specifically, Project Lightning would utilize ethanol as a feedstock and have the capability to produce bio-ethylene, renewable Optimate (alkylate), and sustainable aviation fuel. The inclusion of a metathesis unit in the project would add optionality to convert ethylene and bio-ethylene into propylene and bio-propylene, respectively.

“I would like to thank the entire Next Wave team for their unwavering commitment to developing a world-class facility,” said Pete Labbat, Managing Partner at ECP. “ECP is proud to have partnered with Next Wave, a company that has been at the forefront of the U.S. energy revolution. Next Wave remains committed to producing a product that enhances transportation fuel efficiency and doing so with adherence to safe and reliable operations.”

“Next Wave was an early mover in identifying the secondary and downstream effects of the shale revolution,” added Matt Delaney, Partner at ECP. “By converting natural gas liquids and their derivatives into higher-value, fuel-efficient products, Next Wave has created a win-win scenario for feedstock suppliers and alkylate customers.”

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Developer inks supply agreement for Kansas CO2 utilization facility

The facility will produce green syngas from CO2 to be used for making products such as hydrogen, synthetic base oils, low-carbon jet fuels, green methanol, and others.

HYCO1, Inc.  announces that it has entered into a 20-year carbon dioxide supply agreement with Kansas Ethanol, located in Lyons, Kansas for the planned construction of the world’s largest biogenic carbon dioxide utilization facility, Green Carbon Synthetics Kansas, LLC.

HYCO1 is a Houston, Texas (USA) based technology company that has created a disruptive CO2 conversion catalyst and related low-cost CO2 process technology. HYCO1 CUBE™ Technology (Carbon Utilization, Best Efficiency) cost-effectively utilizes carbon dioxide and various methane source feedstocks to create low-cost, low-carbon chemical grade syngas in a single pass.

The syngas produced is used to produce low carbon intensity (CI) downstream products.   HYCO1 technology not only lowers the resultant carbon score of the downstream products by 50% to 100% but does so at a competitive cost compared to fossil feedstock derived products and without the requirement of incentives like many other technologies.  HYCO1 technology enables green syngas to be used for making products such as hydrogen, synthetic base oils, low-carbon jet fuels, green methanol, and many others.

The new HYCO1 project to be co-located with Kansas Ethanol will utilize all of their 800 tons per day of CO2 to produce approximately 60 million gallons per year of low-carbon and zero-carbon products.

Kurt Dieker, chief development officer and co-founder of HYCO1, stated, “While there are many paths that an ethanol facility can take to improve sustainability and margins, ranging from additional energy efficiencies to protein separation, in my opinion CO2 utilization represents the leading value-added step for an ethanol production facility.”

The Lyons HYCO1 project is in the engineering stage with plans to complete the pre-construction engineering in 2024. The facility will produce approximately 4,000 barrels per day of first-of-a-kind synthetic Base Lubricating Oils and Low-Carbon Jet Fuel made from CO2. High-performance products include four centistoke base oil for use in the highest grade synthetic motor oils; and a two centistoke base oil currently being tested by EV manufacturers for its ideal battery and drive-train heat transfer and lubrication properties.

The projects’ products are produced with more than 80% reductions in carbon footprints versus traditional fossil-derived products.   Approximately half of the weight of these new sustainable products will consist of biogenic CO2 that would have previously been emitted into the atmosphere.

Mike Chisam, CEO of Kansas Ethanol, said of the project, “Although most ethanol producers are considering or pursuing underground carbon sequestration in our industry to decarbonize, we believe that carbon utilization, which supports a circular carbon economy, represents the best use of our CO2, and positions us more competitively in the market. Value added products made from CO2 that displace fossil derived products represents a win for us at Kansas Ethanol, a win for the U.S. Ethanol Sector, and a win for the global environment. We are looking forward to the construction of the HYCO1-based Green Carbon Synthetics Kansas, LLC facility next to ours. The co-location benefits: carbon dioxide utilization, natural gas offset through waste heat steam production, and additional electricity offsets will position our facility as a world leader of low-carbon ethanol resulting in significant shared savings.” Chisam also noted “HYCO1’s carbon utilization technology enables us to sustainably produce all products, even if, or when, government support incentives are no longer available. That is incredibly important to us.”

HYCO1 is currently evaluating additional project sites and partners to mirror the Green Carbon Synthetics Kansas, LLC project, while also collaborating with downstream technology providers to produce other low-carbon products.

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Low-carbon tech company targeting hydrogen at 35 cents per kilogram

A North Carolina net-zero solutions company has plans to raise capital and is scouting for a location in the US Gulf Coast for its first clean hydrogen production facility.

8 Rivers Capital, the North Carolina net zero solutions company and technology commercialization platform, will need to raise capital and is scouting for a location in the US Gulf Coast for its first clean hydrogen production facility, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder Bill Brown said on the sidelines of CERAWeek in Houston.

Brown declined to elaborate on the capital raise, but said he is well connected to finance from previous roles he held at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. The company received a $100m investment from South Korea-based SK Group last March.

8 Rivers has technology for power generation, hydrogen production, gas processing, and direct air capture. Through its involvement with affiliate Net Power, 8 Rivers has developed the Allam-Fetvedt Cycle, a power cycle that uses the oxy-combustion of carbon-based fuels and a high-pressure CO2 fluid in a highly recuperated cycle that captures emissions. Net Power was recently acquired in a SPAC deal with Rice Acquisition Corp. II, which valued the company at $1.459bn.

In hydrogen, 8 Rivers has developed 8RH2, a process to make hydrogen from natural gas that produces lower emissions and higher efficiencies, according to its website.

8 Rivers announced in November that it signed an MoU with Japan-based JX Nippon to evaluate the US Gulf Coast for “commercial-scale deployment of 8 Rivers technologies across ammonia and other net-zero projects, including potential projects using CO2-rich natural gas.”

Hydrogen at 35 cents?

Brown isn’t too concerned with the source, or color, of hydrogen. He’s much more concerned with the price per kilo, and says his goal is to make low or zero-carbon-intensity hydrogen without concern for its provenance.

“If we can get hydrogen at 35 cents, you would never build a new power plant, because you’ve got hydrogen cheap enough to use a traditional hydrogen turbine,” Brown said. “I can make the cheapest hydrogen from methane, or coal for that matter. I can’t make it from electricity without subsidy.”

Hydrogen at 35 cents is USD 3 per MMBtu, making it competitive with gas.

“One-dollar hydrogen, to me, is worthless,” he said. “Let’s face it, right now, we have one-dollar hydrogen in the world, not clean, but we have seen the full demand already.”

“8 Rivers does not want to be the company that says ‘here, take my technology,’” Brown said. “8 Rivers wants to be the company that says ‘come to us and we will give you the cheapest hydrogen and we’re agnostic as to where it came from, but we can tell you it’s green.’”

Target markets include customers that are blending hydrogen, Brown said. With USD 50bn of hydrogen assets already deployed in the US, he’s not concerned about offtake.

“It’s the system,” Brown said. “The system is the offtake.”

For ammonia, island nations in transition, commercial shipping and coal replacement all present large potential markets, Brown said. If ammonia can be produced at USD 100 per ton, it will be more competitive than coal as an export fuel.

But Brown is adamant that hydrogen blending in existing infrastructure presents the best and most immediate use for hydrogen.

“All it takes is offtake,” Brown said. “The easiest thing to do with hydrogen is not converting it to ammonia to ship it overseas with some supply contract, the easiest thing to do is put it in a pipeline.”

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Hydrogen firm launches equity raise

A US hydrogen infrastructure and project development outfit has mandated a banker to conduct a raise for equity and project capital.

Lifte H2, the Boston-based hydrogen infrastructure and project developer, has mandated a banker to conduct a Series A capital raise, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Energy & Industrial Advisory Partners is running the process, which launched recently, the sources said. Lifte H2 is seeking equity in the topco and development capital for its first project.

Talks with strategic and financial investors are being conducted now.

Lifte H2, which also has offices in Berlin, is led by Co-founder and CEO Matthew Blieske, who served as global hydrogen product manager for Shell before starting Lifte H2 in 2021. The founding team also includes Jeremy Manaus, Angela Akroyd, Richard Zhang, Paul Karzel, and Richard Wiens, all of whom previously worked at Shell.

In January, the company launched two hydrogen transport and dispensing products, the MACH₂ Mobile Refueler, which is a combination dispenser and high-capacity trailer; and the MACH2 High-Capacity Hydrogen Trailer, which has a capacity of 1,330 kg at approximately 550 bar and, according to the company, enables the lowest cost per kilogram for over-the-road transport.

The company signed an MOU last year with Swiss compressor manufacturer Burckhardt Compression to develop a joint offering of hydrogen solutions.

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Siemens Energy planning new US electrolyzer capacity

The company is targeting expansion in the U.S. given the favorable policy environment following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Siemens Energy North America is laying the groundwork for new electrolyzer manufacturing capacity in the United States, President Richard Voorberg said during a panel discussion recently.

Siemens Energy, a global energy technology company, makes an 18 MW PEM electrolyzer, one of the largest in the world, and is targeting expansion in the U.S. given the favorable policy environment following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Voorberg said.

The company is building its first gigawatt factory in Berlin, Germany via a joint venture with France’s Air Liquide. The Berlin factory is expected to produce 1 GW of PEM electrolyzers per year starting in mid-2023.

“As soon as we get that first one up and running… I’ve got a plan already to put a 1,000 MW line in the US,” Voorberg said, speaking during an event at the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Washington D.C. last month.

Siemens’ existing manufacturing capacity in the US could expand to accommodate that new line, or the company could look to build an entirely new facility, Voorberg said. He added that the recently passed IRA helps makes the business case to do so.

Following the IRA, customers went from asking for fractions of a megawatt to seeking 2 GW in a single order, Voorberg said. His 18 MW line is now insufficient.

“We’ve got to scale up,” he said. “Scale is everything.”

Voorberg said his company sees hydrogen being used in electricity production around 2035, but mobility can use it now.

The planned move by Siemens underscores the extent to which the IRA legislation has trained the hydrogen industry’s focus on the U.S. Norway-based electrolyzer producer Nel is speeding efforts to expand electrolyzer capacity in the U.S. And Cummins announced last month that it would add electrolyzer production space at its existing facility in Fridley, Minnesota.

Siemens Energy is independent of Siemens AG, having spun off in 2020. The company has about 10,000 employees in the US and roughly 2,000 in Canada.

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