Clean energy company C-Zero announced today it has raised $34 million in a financing round to build its first pilot natural gas decarbonization plant utilizing its technology for producing zero emissions hydrogen from natural gas.

The round was led by SK Gas, a subsidiary of South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate, the SK Group. Other new investors include Engie New Ventures, and commodities company Trafigura, along with participation from existing investors Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Eni Next, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and AP Ventures.

Brian (Byung Suk) Yoon, CEO of SK Gas, said:

We are eager to bring C-Zero’s technology to Korea, where we see great synergies with our plans to build a hydrogen value chain complex in Ulsan. SK Gas strongly believes in the potential of methane pyrolysis and its ability to help countries like Korea in their decarbonization efforts by producing low-cost, clean hydrogen.”

California-based C-Zero uses high temperature to break down methane, which is the primary molecule in natural gas, into hydrogen and solid carbon. The hydrogen can be used to decarbonize different industries, including ammonia production, electricity generation, process heat, and fuel cell vehicles.

 Eric McFarland, CTO of C-Zero, said:

“We are excited to be scaling up our innovative technology with experienced investors and partners who recognize the need to decarbonize natural gas and the opportunity that turquoise hydrogen production represents. Natural gas provides a quarter of the world’s energy, so the scale of the opportunity ahead of us is enormous. But we cannot do it alone.”

Proceeds from the funding will be used to build the company’s first plant, which is expected to be capable of producing up to 400kg of hydrogen per day from natural gas with zero CO2 emissions. The pilot plant is projected to be online in the first quarter of 2023.

Julien Rolland, Head of Power and Renewables for Trafigura, said:

 “Trafigura is backing C-Zero as part of a series of investments in clean energy technologies, including low-carbon fuels needed for the energy transition. C-Zero is reaching a critical stage with the construction of its first pilot plant to successfully demonstrate the production of low-carbon hydrogen from natural gas.”