The stack of a Maersk ship showing the company's star logo. Photo via Maersk

Maersk Invests in Silicon Valley Electrofuels Start-Up to Help Decarbonize Fleet

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1224
September 23, 2021

A.P. Moller – Maersk has bought into a Silicon Valley-based electrofuels startup as the world’s leading ocean liner works to decarbonize its marine operations.

The minority investment in Prometheus Fuels is an important component of Maersk’s development of methanol-powered containerships. At lab level, Prometheus Fuels can produce alcohol using renewable energy, ambient air and water. The alcohol can then be used as carbon neutral eFuel to propel the vessels.

Electrofuels include alcohols produced from renewable energy, including green methanol, and are fuel technologies already feasible today. Maersk sees alcohols as one of several fuels in the future fuel mix and one of four potential fuel pathways the company has identified to help decarbonize its operations, alongside biodiesel, lignin-enhanced alcohols and ammonia.

“Prometheus Fuels is developing a very exciting and innovative technology to produce carbon based electrofuels from direct air capture of CO2,” explains Morten Bo Christiansen, Head of Decarbonisation, A.P. Moller – Maersk. “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.”

Maersk expects synthetic alcohols and other electrofuels to play a big role in the decarbonisation of shipping, due to its long-term scalability advantages compared to biobased fuels. Produced from renewable energy and water and ambient CO2 from direct air capture, it has the potential to offer infinite availability regardless of geographic scope.

maersk electrofuels cycle
Credit: Maersk

“Our zero net carbon, zero sulphur electrofuel doesn’t compete with food production – it comes from renewable electricity and air so its feedstock is limitless,” said Rob McGinnis, Founder and CEO of Prometheus Fuels. “Our electrofuel offers a truly viable solution to decarbonise shipping – one that can scale and be implemented in time to avoid catastrophic global warming. We’re excited to partner with Maersk, a global leader in decarbonisation in the transportation and shipping industries, to accelerate this transition.”

American Airlines has already signed up to buy 10 million gallons of jet fuel from Prometheus Fuels. With a valuation at over $1 billion, Maersk will join a team of investors in the startup which includes BMW i Ventures and Metaplanet. Peter Votkjaer Jorgensen, Partner at Maersk Growth, will also join the board of the company.

“Decarbonization is a strategic imperative of Maersk, so investing in this space is a natural focus point for Maersk Growth and one where we can offer value beyond capital through the expertise and scale of the Maersk organization,” said Peter Votkjaer Jorgensen, Venture Partner in Maersk Growth, the Corporate Venture arm of A.P. Moller – Maersk. “Prometheus’ technology has disruptive potential for the green fuel market, and we look forward to contributing as well as learning from this partnership in the years to come.”

In August, Maersk ordered eight green methanol fueled ocean-going vessels to be delivered from Q1 2024. Earlier this month Maersk invested in WasteFuel, a California-based startup producing green bio-methanol from waste.

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