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UK aluminum recycling plant testing hydrogen burning

An award from the UK government will help establish hydrogen burning demonstration in sustainable aluminum production.

Novelis, a sustainable aluminium solutions provider, has been awarded EUR 4.6m to establish hydrogen burning trials at its Latchford plant in the UK, according to a news release.

As part of the UK Government’s EUR 55m Industrial Fuel Switching Competition, the EUR 1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, and the wider regional HyNet project.

Novelis joined HyNet in 2017 and has been supporting the development of the regional infrastructure project as well as conducting its own technical feasibility studies on the use of hydrogen as a direct replacement for natural gas.

The Latchford plant will test the use of hydrogen on one of its recycling furnaces in a demonstration phase in 2024.

The trial has been set up in collaboration with Progressive Energy, an independent UK energy company, and requires the installation of new burners and regenerators – both capable of operating with hydrogen or a blended hydrogen/gas input – and replacing the furnace lining material with one suitable for hydrogen.

Depending on the final configuration, replacing natural gas with hydrogen to feed the remelting furnace could reduce CO2eq emissions by up to 90% compared to using the same amount of natural gas.

In addition to its contribution to HyNet, Novelis’ research & development teams worldwide are also investigating the ability to use plasma, electricity, and biomass to power its manufacturing operations.

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JERA commences ammonia co-firing tests

JERA and IHI will seek to establish technology for the use of fuel ammonia in thermal power generation with a view toward mainstreaming in society by March 2025.

JERA Co. and IHI Corporation today began a demonstration of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution at a commercial coal-fired thermal power plant.

The testing will be carried out at JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station in Hekinan City through June 2024.

Since October 2022, JERA and IHI have been moving forward in constructing the burners, tank, vaporizer, piping, and other facilities necessary for demonstration testing fuel ammonia substitution at JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station.

IHI has developed a test burner based on the results of small-volume testing of fuel ammonia at the power station’s Unit 5, and JERA has prepared safety measures and an operational framework for the use of fuel ammonia at the power station.

With such preparations in place, the demonstration testing of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution began today at the power station’s Unit 4. The demonstration testing will look at characteristics of the plant overall, investigating nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and confirming factors such as operability and the impact on boilers and ancillary equipment.

JERA and IHI, by addressing issues raised through the demonstration testing, will seek to establish technology for the use of fuel ammonia in thermal power generation with a view toward mainstreaming in society by March 2025, according to a news release.

Based on the current demonstration testing, JERA will begin commercial operation of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution (20% of heating value) at Unit 4 of JERA’s Hekinan Thermal Power Station. By establishing the technology for ammonia substitution, JERA will offer a clean energy supply platform that combines renewable energy with low-carbon thermal power, contributing to the healthy growth and development of Asia and the world.

In addition to steadily carrying out the current demonstration testing, IHI will apply the knowledges gained through the Project to establish technology for high-ratio combustion of 50% ammonia or more at thermal power plants and to develop burners for 100% ammonia combustion, deploying the results of the demonstration testing to other thermal power plants in Japan and overseas will contribute to global decarbonization through fuel ammonia.

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Yara Growth Ventures invests in electrolyzer start-up

Yara Growth Ventures has made an investment in Dynelectro, an electrolyzer start-up aiming to increase the lifetime of solid-oxide electrolysis systems.

Yara Growth Ventures has invested in Dynelectro, a developer of technologies to unlock the potential of solid oxide electrolysis (SOE), according to a news release.

Dynelectro’s approach increases the lifetime of SOE systems dramatically from typically 2 to 10 years, and it also allows for integration of SOE with intermittent renewable electricity – a key requirement for large scale adoption.

“While solid oxide electrolysis has the best potential for low cost, it suffers a niche existence due to system lifetime issues. We believe Dynelectro will overcome these issues and pave the way to make low-cost renewable hydrogen a reality,” said Björn Heinz, Investment Director and part of the Yara Growth Ventures team.

The investment follows the company’s seed investment round, which was led in May 2023 by The Export and Investment Fund of Denmark (EIFO), Denmark’s national promotional bank and export credit agency, with contributions from Vsquared Ventures, a leading European deep-tech fund, and further local venture investors. The funding will be used for demonstration projects and further technology development.

Additional details of the investment were not disclosed.

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SLB acquires majority ownership in carbon capture firm

SLB will pay $380m to purchase 80% of Aker Carbon Capture Holding AS (ACCH), which holds the business of ACC, and will contribute the SLB carbon capture business to the combined entity.

NYSE-listed SLB has agreed to combine its carbon capture business with Aker Carbon Capture (ACC) to support accelerated industrial decarbonization at scale.

The combination will leverage ACC’s commercial carbon capture product offering and SLB’s new technology developments and industrialization capability, according to a news release. It will create a vehicle for accelerating the introduction of disruptive early-stage technology into the global market on a commercial, proven platform. Following the transaction, SLB will own 80% of the combined business and ACC will own 20%.

SLB will pay NOK 4.12 billion ($380m) to purchase 80% of Aker Carbon Capture Holding AS (ACCH), which holds the business of ACC, and will contribute the SLB carbon capture business to the combined entity. SLB may also make additional payments of up to NOK 1.36 billion over the next three years based on the performance of the business.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close by the end of the second quarter, 2024.

“For CCUS to have the expected impact on supporting global net-zero ambitions, it will need to scale up 100-200 times in less than three decades,” said Olivier Le Peuch, chief executive officer, SLB. “Crucial to this scale-up is the ability to lower capture costs, which often represent as much as 50-70% of the total spend of a CCUS project. We are excited to create this business with ACC to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture technologies that will shift the economics of carbon capture across high-emitting industrial sectors.”

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Hydrogen technology firm hires advisor for capital raise

A firm with a technology to produce green hydrogen from sunlight without electrolysis is prepping a capital raise.

BoMax Hydrogen, a Florida-based hydrogen technology firm, is preparing to launch a capital raise later this month, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Boutique advisory firm Taylor DeJongh has been retained to run the process, the sources said. Teasers will likely go out in two weeks.

BoMax is seeking to raise around $15m in a Series A round, the sources added.

The company touts e a novel technology making hydrogen from visible light without the need for solar electrolysis, according to a pre-teaser marketing document seen by ReSource. An alpha prototype has been awarded by the US Department of Energy.

The technology, which does not require rare earth minerals, produces hydrogen at point of need and has been reviewed by scientists at Utah State University.

To date the company has raised about $5m, one of the sources said. That came mostly from friends and family and one Japanese investor.

Funds from the Series A will be used to make a beta prototype, scale operations at the company’s labs in Orlando and prepare for commercial production.

BoMax and Taylor DeJonghe did not respond to requests for comment.

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Biomass technology company launching US projects

Comstock Inc, a biomass technology company, is gearing up to build a fleet of plants that will use yield-enhancing technology to convert woody biomass into clean fuels.

Comstock Inc, a biomass technology company, is gearing up to build a fleet of plants that will use yield-enhancing new technology to process woody biomass into an intermediate product that can be further refined into clean fuels.

The company, traditionally a miner focused on gold and silver mining in Nevada, has been transformed into a technology innovator seeking to build, own, and operate a portfolio of carbon neutral extraction and refining facilities in the US, CEO Corrado De Gasperis said in an interview.

“We’re finalizing all of our documentation on readiness and engineering, and then we’ll be working to select an EPC, and then we’ll be ready to bond and finance,” he said.

Comstock, which trades on the NYSE, is currently engaged in the process of securing access to feedstock, and has mapped out nine regions in the U.S. which, combined, produce between 85 – 100 million tons of woody biomass residuals per year.

In parallel, the company is seeking to incentivize growth of trees like hybrid poplar that can be used as feedstock in the future, De Gasperis said. “We’re going to be building the backend of the supply chain with a feedstock strategy, accessing existing residuals, and then building these facilities,” he added.

In Minnesota, for example, there are around 300 sawmills with no place to send their sawdust and excess woodchips following the closure of several wood-to-energy plants, said David Winsness, a president at Comstock.

“Those are the materials that shouldn’t be sitting there – we should be converting them into fuel,” Winsness said.

Building plants

The company has set an objective to generate “billions” in revenue by 2030 – something it would achieve largely through building and operating the woody biomass plants near where the feedstock is located. Comstock also sells related services and licenses selected technologies to strategic partners.

Using simple math, Comstock could achieve its revenue goal by building and operating 10 facilities that produce approximately 1 million tons of clean fuels per year.

A plant producing 1 million tons per year would require capex of between $600m – $750m to build, and would likely be constructed using a project finance funding model, De Gasperis said. The company has not yet selected a financial advisor.

De Gasperis believes large refiners will want to co-build the facilities along with Comstock – which could also entail a strategic equity investment from the selected refiner and lead to a faster construction process.

“Speed and throughput is the goal,” he said, noting that the company has been engaged with roughly 12 of the large clean fuels refiners on a potential partnership. “The faster we’re producing these carbon-neutral gallons, the faster we’re decarbonizing, and the faster we’re making money.”

The company has private equity funds and infrastructure funds on their radar as potential investors but has not engaged with them yet.

The other half

Comstock’s technological breakthrough comes in its ability to produce a biointermediary – called bioleum – from a part of the woody biomass that is not cellulose, and which can be used to produce drop-in fuels. (Importantly, under new EPA rules implemented in June 2022, biointermediaries such as bioleum can be sold on to refiners, whereas previous rules required co-location with the refineries.)

“Cellulose only counts for 50% of a tree,” said Winsness. “For every gallon of fuel generated from cellulose, we’re getting another gallon from the byproduct. It’s a huge change for the industry to be able to get that much more throughput from the same amount of biomass.”

The Department of Energy recently issued a funding opportunity for projects that can produce more than 60 gallons of ethanol from 1 ton of wood feedstock, De Gasperis said.

“We saw that and we said, ‘We’re already there. We can do much more,’” he added.

Comstock can currently produce about 70 gallons of ethanol from 1 ton of wood, using cellulose. Meanwhile, with the non-cellulose half of the wood in 1 ton of feedstock, the technology can produce an additional 30 – 40 gallons of renewable diesel or aviation fuel.

The company has partnered on a process to convert ethanol to drop-in fuel, with the ultimate goal of producing 100 gallons of drop-in fuels from 1 ton of wood feedstock, according to De Gasperis. “All of our development is to stabilize the breakthrough we had on the bioleum – the heavy cellulose components of the wood is where our technology breaks through and shatters this.”

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See all 79 DOE hydrogen hub applicants

The list, obtained by this publication, shows whether projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ to submit a final application.

The complete list of 79 applicants to the US Department of Energy’s hydrogen hub funding opportunity includes previously unreported projects from oil majors and renewable energy giants.

The list, obtained by this publication via a FOIA request, shows whether or not projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ by the DOE to submit a final application before the April 7, 2023 deadline. The program is expected to offer $8bn in federal funding for six to 10 clean hydrogen hubs, with no single project receiving more than $1.25bn. A decision of funding recipients is expected this fall.

Over nearly nine months, the DOE FOIA office was unwilling to send information about the initial 79 applications that were submitted last year, citing confidential materials in the concept papers. The resulting list is therefore scant in details, showing only the name of the project and the lead entity.

While many of the concepts have been publicly announced by proponents, several major projects that have not been reported previously appear on the list: among others, ExxonMobil was encouraged to apply for funding for a project called “Hydrogen Liftoff Hub”; and NextEra has a “Southeast Hydrogen Network” project, which was also encouraged to apply.

The full list of project names and proponents has been added to The Hydrogen Source’s project database, which now showcases over 370 projects in North America, including hydrogen, ammonia, and sustainable aviation fuel as well as eFuels, carbon capture, direct air capture, and more.

The full database is available only to paid subscribers. Simply click over to the database and select the “DOE applicants” filter for the full list.

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