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Valero SAF JV makes final investment decision

The JV between Valero and Darling Ingredients will advance the $315m DGD Port Arthur sustainable aviation fuel project.

Darling Ingredients Inc. and Valero Energy Corporation have made the final investment decision on a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) project at the Diamond Green Diesel (DGD) Port Arthur plant, which is owned and operated by Diamond Green Diesel Holdings LLC, a 50/50 joint venture between Valero and Darling, according to a news release.

Upon completion of the project, which is expected in 2025, the DGD Port Arthur plant will have the capability to upgrade approximately 50% of its current 470 million gallon annual production capacity to SAF. The project’s estimated cost is approximately $315m, with half of that attributable to Darling Ingredients. With the completion of this project, DGD is expected to be one of the largest SAF manufacturers in the world.

“As one of the largest and most-successful producers of renewable diesel for nearly a decade, it’s exciting to enter the next phase of our growth in the aviation market,” said Darling Indredients Chairman and CEO Randall C. Stuewe. “Darling Ingredients’ global supply chain of waste fats and oils, combined with our partner’s operational and technical expertise, position us as a leader in decarbonization solutions.”

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Air Liquide Finance announces cash tender offers for two series of USD Notes

The tender offers to purchase for cash up to $350m of its outstanding 2.500% notes due 2026 and $100m of its outstanding 3.500% notes will enable the company to optimize its funding structure.

Air Liquide Finance has announced offers to purchase for cash up to $350m of its outstanding 2.500% notes due 2026 and $100m of its outstanding 3.500% notes due 2046, according to a press release.

“The Offeror intends, but is not obligated, to increase either or both of the applicable Maximum Tender Amounts to the extent necessary to allow for a combined acceptance of Notes validly tendered and not validly withdrawn at or prior to the Early Tender Time up to an aggregate maximum principal amount for both series of up to [$500m],” the release states.

Air Liquide has retained BofA Securities Europe SA, Citigroup Global Markets Limited and Natixis Securities Americas to act as the dealer managers for the tender offers, and Global Bondholder Services Corporation to act as the information and tender agent.

The Tender Offers will expire at 11:59 p.m., New York City time, on April 11, 2023.

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Brookfield Renewable-backed LanzaTech gets UK grant for waste gas-to-SAF facility

Illinois-based LanzaTech has received a £25m UK grant for a plant that will convert waste gases into synthetic kerosene for use in sustainable aviation fuel.

LanzaTech has announced that its DRAGON facility project has received a £25m grant from the UK Department for Transport’s Advanced Fuels Fund Competition, according to a news release.

LanzaTech’s Project DRAGON, which stands for Decarbonizing and Reimagining Aviation for the Goal Of Netzero, will convert waste gases into synthetic kerosene for use in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

With the funding, Project DRAGON will complete engineering and the project development in collaboration with Fluor Corporation and Technip Energies, required to reach a final investment decision (FID) for the entire waste gas to SAF project. The proposed plant, which will be sited in Port Talbot, South Wales, is expected to produce 102 million liters per year of ATJ Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (ATJ-SPK) to be blended with kerosene to make SAF, representing ~1% of annual UK jet fuel demand and making a significant contribution towards the UK Mandate for supplying 10% of total annual jet fuel demand in the U.K. with SAF by 2030.

LanzaTech recently reached a funding partnership with Brookfield Renewable, under which Brookfield committed to invest an initial $500m in constructing and operating new carbon capture and transformation projects that have achieved certain pre-agreed milestones. Brookfield will be LanzaTech’s preferred capital partner for LanzaTech CCT opportunities in Europe and North America and following initial investments totaling $500m, Brookfield could commit to making an additional $500m available for investments in the strategic partnership if sufficient projects are available at the agreed milestones. Brookfield will also invest $50 million in LanzaTech to support further corporate development.

The company went public earlier this year in a SPAC acquisition that valued LanzaTech at an implied $1.8bn pro forma enterprise value.

“We must accelerate deployment of SAF plants in the UK,” said Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech, in this week’s news release. “We’re excited that Project DRAGON has been recognized for its potential to deliver results and create new jobs while producing the volumes of SAF greatly needed by a sector that has limited options today. I thank the UK Department for Transport for its continued support and for showing leadership in validating new technologies that can have a real impact in the UK and beyond.”

Jonathon Counsell, International Airline Group’s head of sustainability, said: “Investing in Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) is one of the best opportunities our industry has to decarbonise. We’re delighted that Project Dragon has received crucial financial support in the UK from the Department for Transport Advanced Fuels Fund.”

“IAG has committed $865m in SAF purchases and investments to date, including supporting the first of its kind LanzaJet ethanol-to-jet plant being built in the US. With the right policy support to incentivise further investment, the UK could see many SAF plants built over the next decade, creating 6,500 jobs and saving over three million tonnes of CO2 per year as well as improving the UK’s energy security.”

The feedstock for the planned facility would be waste gases, including potentially from Tata Steel’s adjacent steelworks in Port Talbot. These would be transformed via LanzaTech’s gas fermentation platform to make ethanol as a feedstock for the ATJ facility. LanzaTech have selected Fluor Corporation, a leading global engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firm, to provide Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) services for this part of the project. “With more than 110 years in the industry, Fluor brings world class front-end engineering and EPC firm experience to assist LanzaTech in deploying its technology,” said Jason Kraynek, president, Production & Fuels, Fluor Corporation.

In a second step the ethanol would be turned into SAF using the LanzaJet™ Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) process, which incorporates Technip Energies ‘ethanol to ethylene’ Hummingbird™ technology. This would be the world’s first commercial scale integration of Gas Fermentation (GF) and ATJ to produce SAF with GHG reductions expected to be greater than 70% relative to conventional jet fuel.

A spokesperson for Tata Steel in the UK said: “Achieving our ambition of making CO2 neutral steel involves looking at all ways to reduce our emissions, or in this case, potentially transforming some of our waste gases into useful products such as jet fuel.”

Bhaskar Patel, Technip Energies – SVP Sustainable Fuels, Chemicals and Circularity stated “We are excited to be partnering with LanzaTech™ through our teams in the UK on this journey to help decarbonize the UK aviation industry. The implementation of T.EN’s Hummingbird™ technology integrated within the LanzaJet™ ATJ process provides a ‘best in class’ technology pathway for conversion of ethanol to SAF”.

Jimmy Samartzis, CEO, LanzaJet said: “Project DRAGON will contribute roughly 10% of the entire UK Mandate for SAF by 2030. That’s significant, and government leadership like this is paving the way for emerging industries like SAF to achieve these ambitious and necessary goals. LanzaJet’s alcohol-to-jet technology paired with LanzaTech’s gas fermentation process is changing how we think about the circular economy across the world and driving decarbonization for aviation. We’re thrilled to be partnering with LanzaTech on this work and we’re grateful for this support from the UK Department for Transport.”

The Department for Transport’s Advanced Fuels Fund (AFF) Competition was established to support the UK advanced fuels sector in development and commercial deployment of innovative fuel production technologies that are capable of significantly reducing near-term UK aviation emissions, strengthening the UK project pipeline, and broadening technology options.

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Swiss firm reaches financial close on $1.5bn ammonia plant in Mexico

KfW IPEX was lead arranger of project financing, putting together a banking consortium of seven lenders and ECA coverage with Euler Hermes.

Proman, a global leader in natural gas derived products, has reached financial close on a $1.5bn investment for the financing of its 2,220 MT/day anhydrous ammonia plant in Topolobampo, Mexico, the company said earlier this month.

KfW IPEX was lead arranger of project financing, putting together a banking consortium of seven lenders and ECA coverage with Euler Hermes.

A 2020 announcement from KfW noted a total investment volume of $1.25bn, with the bank consortium contributing a total of $860m in debt capital. A considerable portion of the financing was secured by an export credit guarantee from the German government (Hermes cover).

Speaking on the announcement, David Cassidy, Chief Executive of Proman, said of the company’s presence in Mexico, “We are already a significant producer of ammonia, and this new plant will increase our annual production capacity to 2.8 million tonnes at a time when fertilizers have a critical role to play in the agricultural sector in Mexico and for global food security. We have built strong relationships with local stakeholders and communities and look forward to a long-term future in Mexico.”

Construction of the petrochemical complex will begin immediately.

Local news reports note that the project, which was initiated in 2018, faced several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the revocation of its environmental authorization due to a failure by the federal Environment Ministry to consult with local indigenous communities.

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Green hydrogen developer in exclusivity with new investor

New York-based green hydrogen developer Ambient Fuels is in exclusivity with a new investor, with proceeds from the capital raise slated to fund project development and acquisitions.

Ambient Fuels, the New York-based green hydrogen developer, is in exclusivity with a new investor for a bilateral capital raise, CEO Jacob Susman said in an interview.

Susman declined to name the private equity provider but said the backing will allow Ambient to develop several projects, as well as acquire projects from other developers. The deal is proceeding without the help of a financial advisor.

Once the company reaches its run rate, Ambient plans to complete three to four projects per year costing $50m and up, Susman said, with the first expected to reach operation in 2025.

The company’s initial geographic focus is on the Gulf Coast, centered on the Port of Corpus Christi, Susman said. New York, California, the Pacific Northwest and traditional wind energy states in the Midwest and West are areas of additional work.

Hydrogen hubs

Ambient is closely following the DOE hydrogen hub applications process, Susman said. Which regions are awarded funding could make a difference for where the company locates new projects.

According to ReSource‘s project tracker, Ambient is involved in at least two of the hubs that were encouraged by the DOE to submit a final application: California’s Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES), and the Port of Corpus Christi Green Hydrogen Hub.

In 2021 Ambient completed a funding round led by SJF Ventures. Several other VC funds and angel investors also participated.

Open for offtake business  

Ambient is looking for offtakers in industries that use the molecules for feedstock and energy but need to meet decarbonization targets.

The company is working to provide hydrogen as an industrial feedstock and energy source to sectors including transportation, oil and gas, mining, glass and steel production and automobile manufacturing. Supplying hydrogen for ammonia fertilizer is another target market.

Advisors with clients in those industries should reach out to Ambient, Susman said.

M&A strategy

Ambient strives to be a fully integrated devco with the resources, capital and expertise to take a project to fruition, Susman said. Projects developed by smaller companies can look to Ambient as a buyer for their projects.

“We want to be a home for those great projects that are being developed independently,” Susman said. “Absolutely we will be acquiring projects.”

Smaller developers with good projects could also be targets for takeover with the backing from the new investor, Susman said. The firm could also make a technology buy in software for project development, operations, or possibly the equipment side, though Susman said there’s a low probability of that.

Financial advisors that have leads on good projects Ambient can acquire are welcome to pitch, Susman said.

Susman said he is not in a hurry to exit Ambient and can see the company being independently financed for years to come.

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Exclusive: Seattle biomass-to-chemical firm planning equity round

A firm with plans for a biorefinery in Washington state will raise its first large equity round early next year.

Planted Materials, a Seattle-based biomass-to-chemicals company, is in early design stages for its first biorefinery in eastern Washington state and planning to raise an equity round in early 2025, co-founders Noah Belkhous and Greg Jenson said in an interview.

The company will seek to raise between $10m and $20m ahead of FID on the biorefinery, Belkhous said. The four-year-old company has raised $500k from angel investors to date and is currently raising another $1m from high net worth individuals in the Seattle region.

Planted Materials does not have a relationship with a financial advisor but is open to one, Belkhous said.

The company’s recycling model takes municipal landfill waste and converts it to chemical materials for pharmaceutical, paper, plastic and other manufacturing industries.

The proprietary recycling process is something the company would like to license to municipalities in the US and abroad, in addition to building biorefineries in the Pacific Northwest, Belkhous said. The company’s lab is currently based in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.

Early design work on the first biorefinery is underway. The duo expects CapEx to cap at $50m, reaching FID in 2026 and beginning construction that year.

While the majority of the company’s feedstock will likely come from the major metropolitan regions in the western PNW, refining capacity is more attractive in the east for reasons of space and existing waste management infrastructure. Jenson noted the presence of the relevant research campus of Washington State University in Pullman, as well as the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland.

Recently, the team accompanied Washington Governor Jay Inslee and members of the Washington State Department of Commerce on a trip to Sydney and Melbourne in Australia. The company has applied to a pair of $350k grants from the state.
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Exclusive: Methanol electrolyzer start-up gearing up for seed capital raise

An early-stage technology company seeking to commercialize an electrolyzer that produces methanol from CO2 at ambient temperature and pressure is preparing its first capital raise.

Oxylus Energy, a methanol technology and project development start-up, is preparing to kick off its first capital raise later this month.

The Yale-based firm is seeking to raise $4m in seed funding, with proceeds funding the advancement of a production-scale CO2-to-methanol electrolyzer cell and its first commercial agreements for offtake, CEO Perry Bakas said in an interview.

Oxylus aims to commercialize an electrolyzer that creates methanol from CO2 at room temperature and pressure, and also plans to develop and operate its own methanol production plants, he said.

The technology, which will scale to larger versions in coming years, recently hit a key milestone with the validation of a 5cm2 platform.

The seed capital raise would provide approximately 26 months of runway, according to Bakas. The company would then raise between $20 – $30m in a follow-on Series A in late 2026.

“What we’re gonna do with the Series A is put that first electrolyzer into the ground,” he said. “It’ll be our first revenue-producing methanol.”

Oxylus is currently owned by Bakas and his fellow co-founders. The company has been entirely grant funded to this point. DLA Piper is advising as the law firm on the seed capital raise.

“I think the most important thing about the technology is it’s the most energy-efficient pathway to making renewable methanol,” he said. “At the right energy prices, you’re below cost parity with fossil-derived methanol. When that happens, I think it’ll become a very interesting development scenario.”

Oxylus is focused on bringing the so-called green premium down to zero, Bakas said, noting that it requires achieving scale in electrolyzer production or partnering with established electrolyzer manufacturers.

Methanol for shipping

Oxylus will seek to introduce its technology into target markets that are already using methanol as a feedstock, like high-value petrochemicals. In the longer term, shipping and aviation are likely to become attractive markets. Taken together, the company believes methanol has the potential to decarbonize 11% of global emissions.

Methanol will compete with ammonia for primacy as a shipping fuel in the future, but Bakas believes methanol is the better option.

“These are massive markets – they need a lot of solutions, and quickly,” he said. “But ammonia is not energy dense, and it doesn’t integrate with existing infrastructure.”

The International Energy Agency recently projected that while ammonia will be cheaper to make, methanol is easier to handle, resulting in roughly similar cost profiles for e-methanol and green ammonia. The added cost for methanol production, the report found, is likely to come from a scarcity of biogenic CO2.

On that topic, Bakas acknowledged that the methanol pathway still requires combustion of carbon, but emphasized his technology’s ability to displace existing fossil fuel-based methanol production.

“The distinction we need to make is: are these virgin hydrocarbons or are they recycled hydrocarbons? If you’re just continuously pumping new CO2 out of the ground into the atmosphere, you’re gonna continue to cause climate change,” he said.

“The technologies that we are building in this suite of technologies that cover direct air capture, point source capture, carbon conversion, that whole CCUS world,” he added, “are really working to monitor and create a homeostasis in the atmospheric balance of CO2.”

Oxylus recently completed a lifecycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions, Bakas said, finding that its fuels are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 95% at optimal voltage compared to natural gas steam methane reforming.

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