C-Zero aims to use methane pyrolysis to launch its first gas-derived hydrogen plant next year.

By Callum Cyrus

SK Gas, Eni Next and Engie's New Ventures unit have all backed a financing round for C-Zero, a blue hydrogen developer that expects to produce 400 kg of zero-carbon hydrogen/day from early next year, C-Zero said June 16.

The IOCs were joined in the $34mn financing round by physical commodities trading company Trafigura, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, AP Ventures and Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

The money will help C-Zero develop and build its inaugural pilot facility, ready for the start of operations in Q1 2023. C-Zero claims the plant will be capable of producing 400kg of hydrogen/day with no COemissions.

Natural gas contains zero-emission hydrogen molecules. These molecules can be catalysed using high-powered combustion to securely remove carbon from the gas mix. C-Zero's design would use a form of methane pyrolysis, a process technology that breaks natural gas down into hydrogen and solid carbon. This will be achieved through thermocatalysis, which uses heat to spur the required chemical reaction.

C-Zero's aim is to deliver treatment plants that "drop in" to industry decarbonisation systems, on the one end absorbing natural gas from existing pipelines, and delivering no-carbon hydrogen to industrial gas consumers on the other.

Eni Next, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, AP Ventures and Breakthrough Energy Ventures are all familiar with C-Zero, having backed its $11.5mn series A financing last year. But this is the first time SK Gas and Engie have been involved, demonstrating the broad appeal of C-Zero's business to energy sector investors.

SK Gas CEO Brian Yoon believes his company can offer a big opportunity for C-Zero's treatment plants in Korea, by working with one of its regional hydrogen complexes: "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 abiltiy to help countries like Korea in their decarbonisation efforts by producing low-cost, clean hydrogen."