The hunt for natural hydrogen is on
Startups, investors and governments are all searching for ways to tap into natural hydrogen.
Why it matters: The "green hydrogen" category is emerging as a massive clean energy market, and unlocking so-called geologic hydrogen could provide a key new source for the matter.
Yes, but: The abundance and concentration levels of these types of hydrogen wells remain unclear.
Driving the news: On Friday, Denver-based startup Koloma told Axios exclusively about its $245 million round led by Khosla Ventures and including funds from the investing arms of Amazon and United Airlines.
- The company is developing tools like analytics, AI and sensors, and is deploying tools for hydrogen deposits in the U.S.
- The funding will help Koloma open up a lab at Ohio State University's Energy Advancement Innovation Center and deploy its technology through exploration projects.
State of play: Koloma may be the most well-funded startup searching for geologic hydrogen, but it isn't the only one.
- Calgary-based consultant Chapman Hydrogen and Petroleum Engineering is reportedly planning to begin testing and drilling for geologic hydrogen in northern Ontario this summer.
- Denver-based Natural Hydrogen Energy says it drilled an initial exploratory well in 2019 and is working to start commercial production. Australia-based HyTerra is working with Natural Hydrogen Energy.
- Montreal-based Hydroma developed the first natural hydrogen-to-electricity plant in the village of Bourakébougou in Mali and is focused on finding the gas in West Africa and Canada.
Of note: Some researchers and companies are focused on trying to stimulate natural hydrogen wells by adding water to them.
- Last week the Department of Energy's ARPA-E program announced $20 million grants for 16 projects looking at how to stimulate and manage geologic hydrogen reservoirs.
Big picture: Figuring out where the most economic geologic hydrogen reserves are is the key to unlocking the natural hydrogen market.
- It's expensive to move hydrogen long distances, so profitable wells would ideally have a key customer close by.
- Incentives, like those in the Inflation Reduction Act, are flowing toward all kinds of green hydrogen production, including geologic hydrogen.
What's next: Companies will soon be moving into the drilling and production phase across the U.S., Canada, France, and Australia.