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Sumitomo in group to study California biofuels from forest thinning

The project will use feedstock based on local forest thinning materials and agricultural residues, with plans to expand beyond California.

Allotrope Partners LLC, Axens North America, and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas have signed an agreement to develop a joint study for a commercial plant producing cellulosic bioethanol, utilizing the Axens Futurol™ process, produced from woody biomass through Allotrope Cellulosic Development Company LLC (ACDC), a project development company based in the State of California.

The project will use feedstock based on local Californian forest thinning materials and agricultural residues. These feedstocks in part come from the waste generated in large forest fire prevention activities to reduce risk of wildfires that have become a critical challenge in California in recent years.  This project will produce a commercial grade bioethanol, while at the same time contributing to the reduction of carbon released into the atmosphere from the massive wildfires that have severely impacted the environment and residents in California.

The parties said in a news release that they are committed to develop a first project then continue to expand their cellulosic ethanol footprint within California and to other locations all around North America, utilizing local woody biomass materials to supply low-carbon biofuels into the North American market.

“Allotrope is excited to continue its efforts to develop a series of advanced biofuels projects in California in partnership with Sumitomo and Axens,” noted Marc Stuart, CEO of Allotrope Partners LLC.  “Axen’s Futurol™  technology is ready for commercial scale roll out and Sumitomo will be a valuable partner across the entire project development process, from feedstock sourcing to the sale of final products into the markets.”

Bioethanol is currently attracting attention in countries worldwide striving for carbon-neutral societies as a renewable energy source and as a feedstock for biofuels such as SAF*1 and bio-chemicals. Cellulosic bioethanol made from woody biomass is classified as “Advanced Bioethanol*2” by the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) program and “Cellulosic Fuel” by the US EPA Renewable Fuel Standard, which has the potential to scale sustainably, and with low Carbon Intensity when compared to other fuels and blending components available on the market today.

“The commitment from the Allotrope and Sumitomo teams to deploy Axens Futurol™  technology at multiple US plants and to utilize a wide variety of woody biomass feedstocks is another great example that the low carbon marketplace values both the flexibility of the Futurol™ technology and Axens’ significant technology de-risking achievements. We believe each organization brings complementary strengths to this relationship, and, together, we can make meaningful contributions to reduce the Carbon Intensity of the transportation sector, utilizing ethanol as a renewable energy carrier for gasoline blending and potentially SAF and bio-chemicals production,” said Frédéric Balligand, vice president, Axens Renewables Product Line.

Accordingly, the three companies will be studying the possibility of an initial plant to produce about 60,000 tons of bioethanol derived from local feedstocks. The project shall consider carbon recycling initiatives that contribute to the realization of a decarbonized society, such as CCU*2 using carbon-neutral, biogenic CO2 generated naturally during bioethanol production, internal energy production, and effective utilization of residues from the fermentation process including Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) production.

“SCOA is pleased to partner with Axens and Allotrope in this landmark project and will contribute to this study by consolidating and applying the knowledge and skills of the Sumitomo Corporation Group acquired through various businesses. This includes the development and deployment of carbon-free energy using hydrogen, ammonia, and next-generation biomass, raw fuel gas, and by promoting the use of green chemicals to construct a circular economy,” said Sandro Hasegawa, general manager, SCOA EIIA.

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Aurora Hydrogen raises $10m Series A for zero-emission gray hydrogen

The hydrogen production technology developer has raised $10m in Series A funding led by Energy Innovation Capital.

Aurora Hydrogen, a company developing emission-free, hydrogen production technology, has raised $10m in Series A funding led by Energy Innovation Capital. Participating investors include Williams, Shell Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures and the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

The funding adds to additional funding by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) that the team received earlier this year.

Aurora Hydrogen is scaling their proprietary and highly efficient microwave pyrolysis technology to produce hydrogen and solid carbon without generating CO2 emissions or consuming water, according to a press release. Aurora’s technology is highly scalable, with units that can supply a broad range of applications from distributed fueling to hydrogen injection and industrial processes.

Hydrogen production from the Aurora technology has the potential to significantly reduce global CO2 emissions by over 900 million tonnes per year. Additionally, Aurora uses 80% less electricity than electrolysis, the conventional method of producing clean hydrogen, requiring far less electrical generation capacity per kg of hydrogen. And, unlike electrolysis, the process does not require water as a feedstock, preserving another critical and scarce resource.

“At Aurora, we are producing low-cost hydrogen at the point of use, at the exact scale required, and without generating any CO2,” said Andrew Gillis, CEO, Aurora Hydrogen. “We use existing energy pipelines and distribution systems to move the energy, then produce hydrogen where it’s needed, eliminating the need for any new costly hydrogen transportation infrastructure.”

The recent funding will be used to build and operate a 200 kg-H2/day demonstration plant for field trials in Edmonton, Canada. Current hydrogen production is either expensive and distributed or low-cost and centralized, requiring additional costs to transport. Aurora’s technology has the potential to unlock many new hydrogen markets and applications by providing low-cost hydrogen at the point of use, fast-tracking the path to decarbonization in heavy transportation, residential and commercial heating, and many industrial processes.

“Energy Innovation Capital invests in innovative companies commercializing technology for clean, abundant and affordable energy for all,” said Christopher Smith, managing director, Energy Innovation Capital. “Aurora’s novel and thermodynamically sound approach has the opportunity to decarbonize the current carbon intensive hydrogen industry and lead the commercialization of new low-carbon hydrogen applications.”

Aurora Hydrogen’s founding team is made up of Andrew Gillis, PhD, MBA, P.Eng, Erin Bobicki, PhD, P.Eng, and Murray Thomson, PhD, P.Eng.

Williams made its investment through its Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) program, which is intended to support efforts to commercialize emerging technologies including clean hydrogen, solar, carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) and next generation natural gas, according to a separate release.

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Aviation manufacturers issue statement in support of SAF industry

The statement outlines a series of measures the manufacturers are promoting to advance decarbonization of the aviation industry.

Statement by the Chief Technology Officers of seven of the world’s major aviation manufacturers reads as follows:

Over a decade ago the aviation industry was the first global sector to set ambitious emission reduction goals. Today, we come together again to support the industry’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions for civil aviation by 2050 and to highlight the importance of the production, distribution, and availability of qualified Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) needed to achieve this goal. The development of fuel-efficient aircraft technologies has been a priority for the aviation industry for over 50 years and remains a priority. Greater uptake of SAF would mitigate the projected growth in aviation COemissions as the customer demand for global air travel increases.

Our companies are steadfast in delivering the technical solutions required to reduce the carbon emissions of the air transportation sector through our work in three key areas:

  • Developing advanced aircraft and propulsion technologies that enable net-zero carbon emissions while maintaining the safety and quality standards of our industry
  • Implementing improvements in aircraft operations and infrastructure
  • Supporting policies and measures that accelerate the availability and adoption of qualified SAF.

Increasing the production and utilization of SAF is a critical step for achieving the air transportation sector’s net zero CO2 emissions goal by 2050. However, the production of SAF is currently estimated at less than 0.1% of the global demand for jet fuel today. Moreover, SAF prices are typically two to five times higher than the price of conventional jet fuel. The supply is further constrained by competition for renewable fuels from other sectors that have alternative decarbonization options, such as with surface transportation and heating.

We support government policies and initiatives that stimulate investment in production capacity, reduce costs, and encourage greater industry uptake. This includes the US Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), which provides a blender’s tax credit. The IRA also authorizes funding to support advanced technologies and infrastructure that enable expanded SAF production and distribution capacity in the US, as well as projects to develop fuel efficient aircraft or otherwise reduce emissions from flying. Public-Private Partnerships, such as the FAA FAST Tech Program, would enhance OEM adoption, testing, and technical clearance of new emerging SAF pathways to ensure seamless insertion into the commercial fleet.

Similarly, the CTOs welcome the political agreement found on ReFuelEU Aviation which will provide a strong signal for the deployment of SAF in air transport, and look forward to the legislation being adopted as soon as possible. The EU needs to implement the right industrial support policies, within the Net Zero Industry Act, to accelerate the availability of SAF and synthetic kerosene at commercial scale, building on the work of the Industrial Alliance for Renewable and Low Carbon Fuels (RLCF). In addition, qualification efforts that support the development of co-processing technologies that can harness the existing capital infrastructure will accelerate the availability of  SAF at commercial scale.

Public-Private Partnerships can play a key role in increasing the development and use of SAF through policy definition and alignment, along with financial incentives.  Policymakers have the chance to accelerate these processes by providing sustained and predictable support to the multi-year development of novel technologies, and by stimulating the ramp-up of capacity. Recognizing the technical challenges associated with decarbonizing aviation, greater public policy and financial support to accelerate SAF production and distribution over fuels used for surface transportation is essential.  Additionally, close collaboration with the aviation industry and fuel suppliers is required in the development of infrastructure and investment in SAF production capacity to accelerate availability in support of demand. Lastly, establishing standards for qualification of 100% SAF pathways that ensure full compatibility with engines and aircraft for civil and appropriate defence applications as they become available is essential.

We, as CTOs, are committed to supporting policies that increase the supply of SAF while ensuring a consistent and predictable demand through harmonised global measures. The aviation industry plays a pivotal role in modern life connecting people, economies, and nations. We are unified in the proposition that our industry has a prosperous and more sustainable future, and that we can make it happen through the near-term implementation of lasting industry-wide and globalized harmonized policies.

[SIGNATORIES LISTED ALPHABETICALLY BY COMPANY]

Sabine Klauke
Chief Technology Officer
Airbus

 

Todd Citron
Chief Technology Officer
Boeing

 

Bruno Stoufflet
Chief Technology Officer
Dassault Aviation

 

Christopher Lorence
Chief Engineer
GE Aerospace

 

Geoff Hunt
Senior Vice President, Engineering
Pratt & Whitney

 

Grazia Vittadini
Chief Technology Officer
Rolls-Royce

 

Eric Dalbiès
Strategy & Chief Technology Officer
Safran

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Woodside Energy invests in US CO2-to-protein technology company

Woodside will invest $3m into California-based NovoNutrients under a technology development agreement.

NovoNutrients has announced the signing of a technology development agreement under which Woodside Energy would contribute up to $3m to NovoNutrients, subject to the completion of certain milestones by NovoNutrients, according to a news release.

NovoNutrients’ technology converts industrial CO2 emissions into high-quality protein, with the potential to abate greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the world’s food and feed supply. The collaboration with NovoNutrients is aligned with Woodside’s view of carbon capture and utilization (CCU) as an emerging field offering alternative lower-carbon solutions.

NovoNutrients’ technology has been operating at a lab-scale. This agreement supports the construction and operation of a larger pilot-scale system. The pilot-scale system will seek to both advance the design of commercial-scale plants and deliver increased sample product volume for further validation by NovoNutrients’ strategic partners, including Woodside.

“Our agreement with Woodside means, together, we can deliver meaningful carbon benefits sooner, while also tackling the world’s need for protein,” said David Tze, CEO of NovoNutrients.

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AGDC seeks $150m in development capital for Alaska LNG project

The Alaska corporation is raising capital to reach FID on a $44bn LNG project that includes the construction of a natural gas pipeline and carbon capture infrastructure.

The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) is actively working to raise $150m in development capital for the Alaska LNG project, with Goldman Sachs providing advisory services.

This capital will cover third-party Front End Engineering Design (FEED) costs, project management, legal and commercial expenses, and overhead for 8 Star Alaska, the entity overseeing the project. Investors will receive a majority interest in both 8 Star Alaska and Alaska LNG as part of the fundraising efforts, according to a presentation​​.

AGDC, a public corporation of the state of Alaska, is hoping to finalize a deal for development capital in the next 12 months, but has not set a definitive timeline for the fundraise, AGDC’s Tim Fitzpatrick said.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $44bn, according to Fitzpatrick, and consists of three principal infrastructural components:

  1. Arctic Carbon Capture (ACC) Plant: Located in Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope, this plant is designed to remove carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide before natural gas enters the pipeline.
  2. Natural Gas Pipeline: This 807-mile pipeline, with a 42-inch diameter, connects the ACC plant to the LNG facility and is capable of transporting 3.7 billion ft³/d of natural gas. It includes multiple offtake points for in-state residential, commercial, and industrial use.
  3. Alaska LNG Facility: Situated at tidewater in Nikiski, Alaska, this facility features three liquefaction trains, two loading berths, two 240,000 m³ LNG tanks, and a jetty. It is designed to produce 20 million tons per year of LNG​​.

Strategies to raise the necessary funds include collaborating with established LNG developers, strategic and financial investors, and possibly forming a consortium, according to the presentation. All project equity will flow through 8 Star Alaska, keeping the legal and commercial structure of the project consistent​​.

As of last year, the corporation was negotiating sales agreements for a significant portion of the Alaska LNG project’s capacity. Discussions include contracts covering 8 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) at fixed prices and market-linked charges, and equity offtake talks for up to 12 MTPA. Additionally, three traditional Asian utility customers have shown interest in a minimum of 3 MTPA, potentially increasing to 5 MTPA.

These negotiations involve traditional Asian utility buyers, LNG traders, and oil and gas companies, all credit-worthy and large-scale market participants, the company said. Some buyers are contemplating equity offtake, investing at the Final Investment Decision (FID) in exchange for LNG supplied at cost​​.

A key component of the project’s advancement is securing gas supply agreement terms, identified as a prerequisite by multiple investors. AGDC has held meetings with executives from two major producers to emphasize the need for Gas Supply Precedent Agreements to attract further investment. These discussions, highlighting the project’s importance to Alaska, were joined by key figures including the DOR Commissioner Crum, the DNR Commissioner Boyle, and representatives from Goldman Sachs​​.

The Japan Energy Summit, sponsored by AGDC, focused on the need for new LNG capacity in Asia. Japan’s Ministry of Economy Trade & Industry (METI) expressed strong support for new LNG investments and offtake, emphasizing the replacement of coal with gas in developing Asian markets​​.

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Exclusive: Hydrogen adoption and production firm prepping capital raise

A decarbonization services provider is in development on multiple utility-owned hydrogen adoption projects in the Northeast, Texas and Georgia and is preparing to launch a capital raise in 3Q24.

Celadyne, a Chicago-based decarbonization and hydrogen solutions company, will launch a Series A this year as it continues its role in the development of several utility-owned hydrogen adoption projects in the US, founder and CEO Gary Ong told ReSource.

A $20m to $30m capital raise will likely launch in 3Q24, Ong said. The company is relying on existing investors from its recent seed round to advise, and the amount could change based on grants.

While the $4.5m seed round allowed the company to focus on transportation mobility, the Series A will be used to do more work on hydrogen production, so the company will be looking for strategics in oil and gas, renewable energy, and utilities.

DLA Piper is the company’s legal advisor, Ong said.

Celadyne has a contract signed with a utility in the Northeast for a small electrolysis demonstration and, following that, a multimillion-dollar project. Discussions on how to finance that latter project are underway.

Additional electrolysis projects in Texas and Georgia are in later discussions, while less mature deals are taking shape with a nuclear customer in Illinois and another project in Southern California, Ong said.

Fuel cell customers (typically OEMs that use hydrogen) to which Celadyne ships equipment are clustered mostly in Vancouver, Michigan and California.

Meanwhile, Celadyne has generated revenues from military contracts of about $1m, Ong said, a source of non-recurring revenue that has prodded the company to look for a fuel cell integration partner specific to the defense application.

‘Blocking hydrogen’

The company, founded in 2019, is focused on solving for the demand and supply issues for which the fledgling US hydrogen market is notorious. Thus, it is split-focused between hydrogen adoption and production.

Celadyne has developed a nanoparticle coating that can be applied to existing fuel cell and electrolyzer membranes.

On the heavy-duty side, such as diesel generators or back-up power, the company improves durability of engines between 3X and 5X, Ong said.

On the electrolysis side, the technology improves rote efficiency by 15%. In production, Celadyne is looking for pilot projects and verification studies.

“We’re very good at blocking hydrogen,” he said. “In a fuel cell or electrolyzer, when you have hydrogen on one side and oxygen on the other side, you need something to make sure the hydrogen never sees the oxygen,” noting that it improves safety, reduces side reaction chemistry and improves efficiency.

Hydrogen adoption now will lead to green proliferation later should the economics prove out, according to Ong. If not, blue hydrogen and other decarbonized sources will still pave the way to climate stability.

The only negative for that is the apparent cost-floor for blue hydrogen in fuel cell technologies, Ong said, as carbon capture can only be so cost efficient.

“So, if the price floor is say, $3.25 or $3.50 per kg, it doesn’t mean that you cannot use it for things like transportation, it just means that it might be hard to use it for things like shipping, where the fuel just has to be cheaper,” Ong said.

Three companies

Celadyne is split into three focus applications: defense, materials, and production. If only one of those wings works, Ong said he could see selling to a strategic at some point.

“If any of those things work out, we ought to become a billion-dollar company,” he said.

If all three work out, Ong will likely seek to do an IPO.

An acquisition could be driven by an acquiror that can help Celadyne commercialize its products faster, he said.

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exclusive

Carbon credit project developer planning equity raise

A Texas-based carbon credit firm is preparing to sell credits from its first project in the US southeast and planning its first equity raise in 2024.

Sky Harvest Carbon, the Dallas-based carbon credit project developer, is preparing to sell credits from its first project, roughly 30,000 acres of forest in the southeastern US, while looking toward its first equity raise in 2024, CEO and founder Will Clayton said in an interview.

In late 2024 the company will seek to raise between $5m and $10m in topco equity, depending on the outcome of grant applications, Clayton said. The company is represented by Scott Douglass & McConnico in Austin, Texas and does not have a relationship with a financial advisor.

Sky Harvest considers itself a project developer, using existing liquidity to pay landowners on the backend for timber rights, then selling credits based on the volume and age of the trees for $20 to $50 per credit (standardized as 1 mtpy of carbon).

The company will sell some 45,000 credits from its pilot project — comprised of acreage across Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi – in 2024, Clayton said. The project involves 20 landowners.

Clayton, formerly chief of staff at North Carolina-based renewables and P2X developer Strata Clean Energy, owns a controlling stake in Sky Harvest Carbon. He said he’s self-funded operations to date, in part with private debt. The company is also applying for a multi-million-dollar grant based on working with small and underrepresented landowners.

“There’s a wall of demand… that’s coming against a supply constraint,” Clayton said of companies wanting to buy credits to meet carbon reduction goals.

Sky Harvest would be interested in working with companies wanting to secure supply or credits before price spikes, or investors wanting to acquire the credits as an asset prior to price spikes, Clayton said.

“Anybody who wants to go long on carbon, either as an investment thesis or for the climate benefits to offset operational footprint, it’s a great way to do it by locking supply at a low cost,” he said.

A novel approach to credit definition

Carbon credits on the open market vary widely in verifications standards and price; they can cost anywhere from $1 to $2,000.

“There’s a long process for all the measurements and verifications,” Clayton said.

There are many forestry carbon developers paying landowners for environmental benefits and selling those credits. Where Sky Harvest is unique is its attempt to redefine the carbon credit, Clayton said.

The typical definition of 1 mtpy of CO2 is problematic, as it does not gauge for duration of storage, he said. Carbon emitted into the atmosphere can stay there indefinitely.

“If you’re storing carbon for 10, 20, 30 years, the scales don’t balance,” Clayton said. “That equation breaks and it’s not truly an offset.”

Sky Harvest is quantifying the value of carbon over time by equating volume with duration, Clayton said.

“If you have one ton of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere forever on one side of the scale, you need multiple tons of carbon dioxide stored on the other side of the scale if it’s for any time period other than forever,” he said, noting that credit providers often cannot guarantee that the protected trees will never be harvested. Sky Harvest inputs more than 1 ton per credit, measured in periods of five years guaranteed storage at a time. “We compensate for the fact that it’s not going to be stored there forever.”

Monitoring protected land is expensive and often difficult to sustain. Carbon markets work much like conservation easements, but those easements often lose effect over time as oversight diminishes (typically because of staffing or funding shortages at the often nonprofit groups charged with monitoring).

“That doesn’t work in any other industry with real physical commodities,” Clayton said. “The way every other industry works is you pay a fund delivery. That’s our measure-as-you-go approach.”

A similar methodology has been put forward by the United Nations and has been adopted in Quebec, Clayton said.

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