Baker Hughes invests in biomethane technology company

By Keefe Borden29 June 2021

Electrochaea biomethanation process A schematic of Electrochaea’s biomethanation process.

Baker Hughes announced plans to buy a 15% stake in Electrochaea, a growth stage company that develops proprietary biomethane technology.

Baker Hughes will use the investment to enhance its broader carbon capture and utilization (CCU) portfolio and to provide  integrated technologies for customers across the CO2 value chain to produce of low carbon synthetic natural gas (SNG) from captured CO2 and green hydrogen.

The Electrochaea biomethanation process is a highly-efficient, scalable and complementary technology to the Baker Hughes CCU portfolio. The two companies will join efforts to accelerate and scale up the industrialization of the technology. The company plans to develop technologies that will enable customers to transform CO2 emissions into synthetic natural gas.

“The combination of these technologies provides an integrated method to decarbonize hard to abate sectors such as road transportation and heating”, said Rod Christie, executive vice president of Turbomachinery & Process Solutions at Baker Hughes. “This agreement is another deliberate step in our strategy to position Baker Hughes for new energy frontiers like CCU by investing in emerging technologies and combining them with our own proven capabilities. Together, we can develop and scale faster, providing integrated solutions that can effectively decarbonize a range of industries.”

“Delivering synthetic natural gas at grid scale would be a remarkable development for energy consumers,” added Mich Hein, CEO of Electrochaea. “By combining Baker Hughes’ carbon capture technology process with biomethanation, customers could potentially deploy large scale plants to reduce the carbon impact of existing gas infrastructure. We look forward to working with Baker Hughes to scale up this promising new solution.”

SNG is methane that originates from a synthesis process that starts from carbon and hydrogen feedstock. Compared to renewable natural gas (RNG) and biomethane - which have biological origin - or fossil based natural gas, SNG re-utilizes CO2 that would be otherwise emitted into the atmosphere, thus contributing to significantly mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

Electrochaea’s technology produces SNG from green hydrogen and CO2 that can come from a variety of sources, such as biogas, fermentation off-gas or captured from single point emitters such as power and industrial plants. SNG can be used for low-carbon heating, transport and industrial applications. In addition, once SNG is injected into existing natural gas pipelines, it can be used as a form of energy storage.

Along with the lead investor Baker Hughes, the existing investors MVP, Storengy (an ENGIE subsidiary), KfW, Caliza, Focus First, Energie 360°, and btov also participated in Electrocheaea’s latest financing round. Baker Hughes will take an approximately 15% stake in Electrochaea to help advance new project development and commercialization. Baker Hughes will also assume a seat on Electrochaea’s Board of Directors.

Electrochaea delivers a technology to produce renewable methane, a drop-in fuel for natural gas, that can be stored and transported in the existing gas grid. Electrochaea’s patented process addresses the climate challenge by utilizing CO2, producing a renewable fuel, and providing a solution for long-term storage of intermittent renewable energy.

The company is planning to deploy its technology with partners to produce more than 15 billion cubic feet per year of renewable SNG by 2025. Industrial-scale pilot plants have operated in the U.S., Switzerland and Denmark. Electrochaea is headquartered in Munich, Germany, with subsidiaries in Denmark and the U.S.

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