A.P. Moller – Maersk has announced a minority investment in a Dutch start-up focused on developing liquid lignin technology which can be used as a marine fuel.
Maersk’s investment in Vertoro, made through its Maersk Growth division, will help the start-up further develop and commercialize its patented lignin technology and enable it to build a demo plant, which will become operational in 2022. The output of this plant will be used to develop marine fuels in partnership with Maersk, as well as other applications for the materials and chemicals markets.
Vertoro was founded in 2017 and produces liquid lignin exclusively from sustainably sourced forestry and agricultural residues by means of a patented thermochemical process. Like fossil oil, liquid lignin can be used as a platform for fuel, chemical and material applications.
“Our goal is to offer competitive, sustainable products to cost and environmentally conscious customers worldwide; a model inspired by no-frills disrupters in other industries that today are among the most profitable in their sector. This investment will bring us closer to reaching this goal in close cooperation with our committed team, our investors, and our partners,” said Michael Boot, Co-founder & CEO at Vertoro.
Maersk expects several fuel types to exist alongside each other in the future fuels mix and has identified four potential fuel pathways to decarbonization: biodiesel, alcohols, ammonia, and lignin-enhanced alcohols. Lignin is a class of complex organic polymers which form key structural materials in the support tissues of most plants.
The investment marks Maersk Growth’s third investment in alternative marine fuels in less than two months. In September Maersk Growth invested in WasteFuel, a start-up focused on turning waste into sustainable aviation fuel, green bio-methanol, and renewable natural gas. Later followed the investment in Prometheus which is developing a direct air capture-technology to enable cost efficient, carbon neutral electro fuels.
“Lignin fuels have a promising potential when it comes to decarbonising shipping,” said Peter Votkjaer Jorgensen, a Partner at Maersk Growth. “We consider Vertoro to be a leading start-up in the sustainable biomass-to-liquids space and we are excited to invest in the company and become part of the efforts to effectively scale up production of green fuels.”
The investment is the latest development in Maersk’s quest to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The shipping giant recently announced a total of nine vessels capable of running on green methanol.
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