Carbon capture and storage

Chevron Acquires Stake in Liquid Carbon Capture Developer ION Clean Energy

The US supermajor aims to speed the commercialization of a new liquid solvent that strips carbon dioxide from industrial flue gas.

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Chevron announced today that it is among the newest equity holders in carbon capture firm ION Clean Energy.

The US supermajor led the $45-million Series A financing round in the Boulder, Colorado-based company through its New Energies Division. Chevron did not specify the amount of its investment.

Founded in 2008, ION develops amine-based carbon capture technology targeting hard-to-abate industrial emissions, which are characterized by sites with high volumes but low concentrations of CO2.

Chevron said the investment will enable it to partner with ION’s clients and accelerate the commercialization of the post-combustion capturing technology.

ION’s technology works by funneling flue gas into an absorption tower where proprietary liquid solvents contact the gas and absorb up to 99% of the CO2. The remaining flue gas is then vented into the atmosphere.

The CO2 and solvent mixture flows through a heat exchanger, releasing the CO2, which is then compressed and can be piped to a storage site or a reuse system. ION claims that its solvent has the highest capture efficiency in the industry, and its stability allows the chemistry to be reused over many cycles.

In addition to its most recent fundraising effort, ION has also received more than $80 million in grants from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

Last year, ION announced a federally funded demonstration test with Houston-based electric provider Calpine at a natural gas-fired power plant outside of San Francisco, California. The companies aim to capture up to 95% of the power plant’s CO2 emissions, which could amount to as much as 10 tons per day. The 18-month pilot is dedicated to validating the capture technology, during which the CO2 will be released into the atmosphere. However, a successful demonstration is expected to pave the way for the eventual sequestration of the greenhouse gas in nearby underground formations.

In addition, the DOE has selected a commercial-scale project by Calpine for cost-sharing that will utilize ION’s technology to capture 1.75 mtpa of CO2 from a different natural gas-fired plant in California.

This project intends to be the world’s first to rely on an air-cooling system at the capture facility to minimize the use of local freshwater resources. The project will also include a collaboration with Occidental Petroleum’s carbon storage subsidiary, 1PointFive.

With the infusion of new funding, ION has undergone an immediate change in leadership.

Assuming the role of CEO is Timothy Vail who previously led a Houston-based renewable gas company and also works with the investment arm of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, which Chevron has sponsored since 2018. Buz Brown, the founder of ION, has stepped down as CEO but will continue as the executive chairman of the company.