The following was provided while participating in the 2023 Destination Startup® Showcase.
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What We Do
We are developing catalytic reforming technology for the efficient production of H2/NH3 fuels that serve as carbon-free, drop-in replacements for hydrocarbons in combustion applications ranging from process heaters to internal combustion engines to turbines to accelerate deep de-carbonization of these industries.
Affiliated Institution: Colorado School of Mines
Have we formed a company? Yes
Funding: Grant Funding, Direct/Indirect University Support
Our Company and the Problem We Are Trying To Solve
There is an urgent need to de-carbonize heavy industry and commercial transport, which account for ~30% of CO2 emissions and are difficult to address through electrification due to the high temperatures and/or energy densities involved. Significant attention has been paid to green hydrogen, but H2@Scale faces major challenges with respect to its storage, distribution, and safety. Alternatively green H2 can be converted into liquid ammonia (NH3), and transported leveraging a well-established production and distribution infrastructure. Upon combustion ammonia releases just water and inert nitrogen. However, ammonia is difficult to ignite and burn directly (which is good for safety). Our reformer efficiently transforms liquid NH3 into tunable H2/NH3 gas mixtures on-site, and the fuel properties can be dynamically adjusted by controlling the H2/NH3 ratio to provide a drop-in replacement for nearly any hydrocarbon. Our reformer rejects unwanted nitrogen and can be delivered at elevated pressure, which enhances fuel performance and reduces NOx. The technology had been validated at the 1 kW scale demonstrating record productivity and displaying >1500 hours of durability, and we are in the process of scaling up to a 10 kW prototype. The use of H2/NH3 fuels has been shown in demonstration projects, but lack of a carbon tax precludes widespread adoption. Mines holds patents on the catalytic membrane reformer geometry and its use for generation of these H2 -enriched fuel mixtures including ammonia but also including other fuels such as natural gas. Blaze holds the exclusive option to this suite of IP.
Our Go-to-Market Strategy
Industrial processes currently emit >15 GT/year of CO2 could all be potentially adopt this technology. Applications range in size from commercial generators and microtubines (~100 kW), to large diesel engines and process heaters (~1 MW), to turbines for electricity generation (10MW and up). The benefits of our technology over existing ammonia reformers are the following: • High throughput (>10X more productive) • Energy Efficient (operating as low at 350 C) • Dynamic control over H2/NH3 composition (0-100%) • High pressure delivery without expensive gas compression • Rejection of N2 which enhances fuel quality and reduces NOx Our strategy is to build this technology up to pilot scale level, which will involve joint development agreements with the end users of the fuel (engines/combustors/turbines) and license the technology or sell the company outright.
How We Will Generate Revenue
We are in the process of developing business plans /financial models, but our intention is to pursue a subscription model where companies would rent or lease our reformer in the conjunction with their end user application. This reduces the up front commitment required and we expect will will expand adoption. In addition, this allows us to develop long term relationships with customers and upgrade the technology as it evolves, providing a flexible tech forward platform.
How We Will Benefit From Destination Startup®
We are aggressively pursuing non-dilutive funding sources at the present while we further refine the technology to strengthen our position prior to external investment. We have a number of relationships with all the above - corporate capital, CV and angels. In particular we are looking for companies who would utilize this technology to enter joint development agreements.
Our team at present includes myself as Founder & CEO, a senior PHD candidate who will assume COO responsibilities upon graduation, a partial CFO from the oil and gas industry, and an senior technical advisor. The technical team has developed this technology and are the world experts. As noted above we are in discussions with several potential end users who we would ideally engage in joint development agreements to tailor the technology for the particular application. On th technical side we would like to add expertise in combustion and engine applications as well as industrial design and heat transfer integration. We also are looking to expand our business and marketing team.