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Exclusive: Ammobia raises $4.2M for green ammonia

Illustration of a large gas tank and ammonia molecules made from quarters.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Green ammonia startup Ammobia has closed a $4.2 million seed round to build a demonstration project at its headquarters in San Francisco, the company tells Axios.

Why it matters: There's growing interest in making a cleaner ammonia, a key ingredient in fertilizer and chemicals.

  • Green ammonia can also be an important fuel and carrier of hydrogen

Zoom in: Ammobia's round was led by Starlight Ventures and included Collaborative Fund, Chevron Technology Ventures, Plug & Play and others.

  • Karen Baert, co-founder and CEO, says the company plans to raise a Series A round next year to build a commercial pilot plant.
  • Baert and co-founder and CTO Tristan Gilbert met while both were graduate students at Stanford.

Catch up quick: Most ammonia is made using the century-old Haber-Bosch process, which combines nitrogen from the air with hydrogen under high pressure and temperature.

  • This process is done at a very large scale and mostly uses natural gas and coal, making it carbon intensive.

How it works: Ammobia is building a more efficient and cleaner system that produces ammonia using electricity, at a lower heat, with lower pressure and with lower capex compared with the traditional process.

  • The design will make green ammonia production more cost-effective and flexible, enabling it to run off of clean energy, says Baert. "We basically do everything in one single reactor."
  • Ammobia dubs its process "Haber-Bosch 2.0."

The big picture: Energy giants and investors are buzzing over the potential of green ammonia.

  • Because ammonia contains hydrogen atoms, it can be a carrier for hydrogen and enable the storing of hydrogen for transporting it. It also has its own promising properties as a net-zero fuel.
  • An increasing number of shipping giants like Maersk are buying ammonia-powered carriers.
  • Some countries like Japan are using ammonia to co-combust with coal, lowering the carbon intensity.

💬 Katie's thought bubble: Reinventing such an established technology as the Haber-Bosch process is a daunting task.

What's next: Ammobia will be using its upcoming demonstration project to try to derisk the technology and move from the lab phase into the engineering phase.

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