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BP invests $10M in methanol startup WasteFuel

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Jul 6, 2023
Illustration of a giant freight ship leaving a wake in the shape of a dollar sign.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Energy giant BP this morning announced a $10 million investment in WasteFuel, a California startup that is raising a $45 million Series B to produce methanol for the shipping industry, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: As the industry shifts from heavily polluting fuel, shipping companies like Maersk are buying every drop of methanol they can find .

Driving the news: BP Ventures is leading the Series B, joined by Maersk, i(x) Net Zero, and philanthropist Aileen Getty.

  • WasteFuel began fundraising in June. It expects the round to close by the end of the year.

Context: Roughly 90% of the world's goods are moved by ships that generate about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

How it works: WasteFuel, based in Pacific Palisades, Calif., plans to make methanol by capturing gas from landfills and farms.

  • The startup is developing its first plant in Dubai, and it's in talks to develop another plant, either in the U.S. or other locations.
  • The company for now plans to produce and transport the fuels itself rather than license the technology.
  • BP is one of its offtakers.

Zoom out: The funding announcement comes as diplomats and shipping execs meet in London to hammer out a potential new goal for reducing shipping emissions.

  • The UN's International Maritime Organization has slowly pushed countries and shipping conglomerates to transition their ships to cleaner fuels.

The big picture: Methanol, which is basically liquid methane, and liquefied natural gas have emerged as the two leading alternative fuels.

  • They're relatively easy to make and move, and while they require different engines, the tech is well-established.
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