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U.S. Steel to capture carbon from Gary, IN blast furnaces

The partnership with CarbonFree will likely enable U. S. Steel to offer steel used in the automotive, appliance, and packaging industries with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.

United States Steel Corporation and CarbonFree, a provider of carbon capture technology, have signed a definitive agreement to capture carbon emissions generated from U. S. Steel’s Gary Works Blast Furnaces in a first-of-its-kind project.

The project will use CarbonFree’s SkyCycle™ technology to capture and mineralize up to 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to emissions produced by nearly 12,000 passenger cars annually, and will have the opportunity to be expanded in the years to come, according to a news release.

U. S. Steel’s involvement aligns with its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions intensity 20% by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. In addition, the initial SkyCycle project responds to the increasing demand for low emissions products, such as verdeX™ advanced sustainable steel, from customers. The project is the first step in exploring the scalability of this technology for potential future implementation across the enterprise.

Construction on the SkyCycle plant in the U. S. Steel Gary Works facility is expected to commence as early as summer 2024 with operations projected to begin in 2026. The definitive agreement has a term of 20 years following its in-service date.

CarbonFree’s patented SkyCycle solution captures carbon emissions from hard-to-abate industrial sources before they enter the atmosphere and converts them into a carbon-neutral version of calcium carbonate, which is essential to the creation of paper and plastics, as well as personal care, paint, and building products. CarbonFree-produced calcium carbonate made from captured carbon dioxide can help decarbonize global supply chains by enabling manufacturers to reduce Scope 3 emissions, or it can be stored in an environmentally conscious way without the need for pipelines or disposal wells.

“U. S. Steel is setting a precedent for how manufacturers can and must proactively manage their carbon emissions, and CarbonFree is honored to play a role in this legacy,” said Martin Keighley, CEO of CarbonFree. “At CarbonFree, we are pioneering profitable carbon capture utilization through disruptive specialty chemical manufacturing using waste carbon dioxide as a primary feedstock. As carbon capture continues to be recognized as an indispensable solution on the path to carbon neutrality for carbon-intensive industries, we look forward to helping U. S. Steel achieve its decarbonization goals while providing economic and environmental benefits to the city of Gary and state of Indiana.”

By leveraging cutting-edge carbon capture technologies, U. S. Steel and CarbonFree aim to revolutionize the steel manufacturing industry, reducing carbon emissions and environmental impact. The partnership will likely enable U. S. Steel to offer steel used in the automotive, appliance, and packaging industries with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.

In addition to capturing carbon dioxide, CarbonFree will use slag produced by the blast furnace operation as part of the calcium carbonate production process.

“Innovating to capture carbon at an integrated mill is the latest example of how steel is enabling a more sustainable future,” said Scott Buckiso, Senior Vice President & Chief Manufacturing Officer, U. S. Steel. “Moreover, U. S. Steel has a history of ‘firsts’ that we’re confidently building on. Using SkyCycle technology for the first project of its kind in North America should benefit the community for generations to come.”

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Hydrogen tech start-up commissions onsite H2 production unit

Calgary-based Azolla Hydrogen has commissioned technology that produces fuel-cell spec hydrogen onsite.

Azolla Hydrogen has commissioned technology that produces fuel-cell spec hydrogen onsite.

The AZ225 Biodrome unit will be capable of producing 225kg of hydrogen per day utilizing a footprint of 424sq.ft, according to a news release.

The unit combines Azolla Hydrogen’s Biodrome technology with a 400 Bar Neuman & Esser compressor creating a seamless and efficient system, the release says.

“This is in alignment with our 2023 commercialization plan to offer additional production capacity and pressures to meet customer demand,” said Jared Sayers, CEO of Azolla Hydrogen. “The AZ225 Biodrome unit represents a major step forward in producing and delivering low-carbon hydrogen fuel. We look forward to working with our customers to bring this innovative solution to their businesses.”

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HTEC to receive B.C. funding for hydrogen trucking pilot

HTEC will buy, test and demonstrate hydrogen-powered trucks for fleet operators throughout B.C.

HTEC is set to receive $16.5m in funding from British Columbia for a pilot program that uses hydrogen to power commercial trucking.

Under the pilot, B.C.-based hydrogen-energy company HTEC will procure six different heavy-duty fuel-cell trucks and complete upgrades to a hydrogen-fuelling station in Tsawwassen and a maintenance facility in Abbotsford.

The B.C. Pilot Hydrogen Truck Project aims to start the use of hydrogen in the commercial transportation sector, according to a news release.

Colin Armstrong, president and CEO of HTEC, said: “Through the Province’s significant investment in zero-emission trucks in B.C., and the simultaneous development of robust infrastructure to enhance their operations, this pilot project symbolizes a remarkable leap toward a sustainable future. It marks the first-ever deployment of heavy-duty hydrogen fuel-cell electric trucks for a diverse range of fleet operators in the province, a historic moment for the trucking industry. We applaud the provincial government for their vision and support, and we are delighted to be the wheels on the ground and driving force behind this groundbreaking project.”

HTEC designs, builds and operates hydrogen production facilities, infrastructure and supply.

HTEC will buy, test and demonstrate the hydrogen-powered trucks for fleet operators throughout B.C. The project also brings together Canada’s world-leading hydrogen and vehicle-technology companies. The Province’s funding for the pilot is being administered by the Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund.

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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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CO2-to-SAF firm in $100m capital raise

A New York-based CO2-to-SAF firm is raising about $100m in equity and debt.

Dimensional Energy, the CO2-to-SAF startup based in Ithaca, New York, is in the late stages of a roughly $100m equity and debt round led internally, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The company is down to a shortlist of potential investors with two or three weeks until targeted close, the source said.

Dimensional did not respond to a request for comment.

Proprietary reactor technology powered by renewables is the core of Dimension’s regenerative process. According to its website, the company can make 15 barrels of fuel from every 10 tons of carbon sources form the atmosphere and hydrogen derived form electrolysis.

In May, the company signed an offtake agreement for 5 million gallons per year with Boom Supersonic, which is seeking to build a supersonic airliner that will travel at speeds twice as fast as today’s commercial jets.

Dimensional started production at a pilot-scale COutilization plant in Tucson, Arizona last year.

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AIMCo-backed midstream infrastructure firm in refi

The company, whose asset footprint includes Gulf Coast hydrogen production, today priced a debt refinancing transaction with an 8.875% coupon.

Howard Energy Partners today priced $550m of senior unsecured notes to refinance amounts outstanding on its revolving credit facility.

The company, which is majority owned by the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), will pay 8.875% on the notes, inside of price talk of between 8.75% – 9%, according to sources familiar with the matter.

RBC Capital Markets and TD Securities are joint active bookrunners on the deal, the sources said.

Howard in 2021 closed on the acquisition of the Javelina Facility in Corpus Christi, Texas — a treating and fractionation plant that extracts olefins, hydrogen, and natural gas liquids from the gas streams produced by local refineries.

Starting in Jan of 2023, a strategic technology partner began producing a low-carbon diesel substitute using Javelina’s hydrogen and CO2 as feedstocks, making it one of the first merchant “clean” hydrogen facilities on the US Gulf Coast, according to the company. HEP is also pursuing carbon capture and sequestration opportunities with its Javelina assets through a joint venture with TALOS Energy and the Port of Corpus Christi.

AIMCo acquired an initial 28% stake in HEP in 2017, and brought its ownership stake to 87% last year following the purchase of Astatine Investment Partners’ stake in the company.

Howard operates in two key segments in the US and Mexico: natural gas and liquids. The natural gas segment includes 1,175 miles of pipelines and approximately 4.3 Bcf/d of throughput capacity and 600 MMCf/d of cryogenic processing capacity.

The liquids segment includes terminalling and logistics services for refined products as well as refinery-focused off-gas handling, treating, processing, fractionation and hydrogen supply services.

Spokespersons for the company, RBC, and TD did not respond to emails seeking comment.

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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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