Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has invested in C-Zero, a hard tech start-up located in Santa Barbara, Calif., to accelerate the first commercial-scale deployment of C-Zero’s drop-in decarbonization technology, which will allow industrial natural gas consumers to avoid producing CO2 in applications like electrical generation, process heating and the production of commodity chemicals like hydrogen and ammonia. The investment has been executed through Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc.
C-Zeros technology uses innovative thermocatalysis to split methane the primary molecule in natural gas into hydrogen and solid carbon in a process known as methane pyrolysis. The hydrogen can be used to help decarbonize a wide array of existing applications, including hydrogen production for fuel cell vehicles, while the carbon can be permanently sequestered. When renewable natural gas is used as the feedstock, C-Zero’s technology can even be carbon negative, effectively extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and permanently storing it in the form of high-density solid carbon.
With the investment, MHI continues to strengthen and diversify the hydrogen value chain, advancing both strategic initiatives for its energy transition business and its commitment to making continued progress toward global carbon neutrality goals. MHI joins a consortium of investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Eni Next and AP Ventures.
“MHI is committed to expanding the hydrogen value chain from production to utilization by developing technologies such as the hydrogen gas turbine, and by partnering with innovative technology and solution providers,” said Yoshihiro Shiraiwa, MHIA President. “We believe C-Zeros technology will lead to more solutions that help us and our customers achieve our decarbonization goals.”
“We are excited to enter the next stage of the company’s growth with support from investors who share our desire to scale up a technology with the potential to decarbonize over a quarter of the world’s energy consumption,” said Zach Jones, C-Zero CEO. “By converting natural gas to clean hydrogen, a molecule with enormous potential, we hope to be the bridge between existing natural gas infrastructure and a low carbon future.”
The investment signals cooperation around accelerating the use of “turquoise hydrogen,” which could further strengthen the hydrogen value chain. Hydrogen produced via methane pyrolysis processes like C-Zero’s is increasingly being referred to as “turquoise hydrogen,” as it combines the benefits of both “blue hydrogen,” (SMR with CO2 sequestration) and “green hydrogen” (produced by splitting water via electrolysis) by being low cost and low emissions, respectively.
As part of the investment, MHI will examine the potential of using the company’s technology for the production and supply of hydrogen that could then be utilized for power generation systems and the decarbonization of industry.