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Maersk invests in electrofuels start-up

INTEGRATED container logistics company A P. Moller – Maersk has invested in Silicon Valley-based start-up company Prometheus Fuels, hoping to use its direct air capture technology — which produces cost-efficient and carbon-neutral electrofuels — in its operations.

The minority investment in Prometheus Fuels will support Maersk’s work to execute on the strategy to decarbonise its fleets.

With electrofuels being produced from renewable energy, water and ambient carbon dioxide (CO2) from direct air capture, the investment is set to support Maersk’s work in decarbonising its fleets as it has the potential to offer infinite availability regardless of geographic scope.

The company indicated that it expects several fuels to exist alongside in the future fuel mix and has identified 4 potential fuel pathways to decarbonisation — biodiesel, alcohols, lignin-enhanced alcohols, and ammonia.

“Electrofuels are expected to play a key role for the decarbonisation of shipping and, if scaled successfully, Prometheus Fuels’ technology will address a key constraint for carbon-based electrofuels — namely the cost-competitiveness of direct air capture,” reveals Maersk Head of Decarbonisation Morten Bo Christiansen.

Maersk Head of Decarbonisation Morten Bo Christiansen (Photo: Shipping Watch

Prometheus’s fuel production process starts with direct air capture of CO2, which is then moved to an electrochemical stack where the carbon is combined with hydrogen molecules from water to create long-chain alcohols. The alcohols are filtered out from the processed water and then a final catalyst step combines the alcohols and recovers the water. This step can be customised to produce a variety of hydrocarbon electrofuels.

Founder and CEO of Prometheus Fuels, Rob McGinnis added, “Our zero net carbon, zero sulphur electrofuels doesn’t compete with food production — it comes from renewable electricity and air, so its feedstock is limitless. Our electrofuel offers a truly visible solution to decarbonise shipping — one that can scale and be implemented in time to avoid catastrophic global warming.”

In August, Maersk ordered eight green methanol-fueled ocean-going vessels to be delivered in the first quarter of 2024, and earlier this month it invested in WasteFuel, a California-based start-up producing green bio-methanol from waste.

There is growing pressure for the shipping industry to become more environmentally friendly and to reduce its ecological footprint overall. With about 90 per cent of world trade transported by sea, global shipping accounts for nearly three per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions.