Maersk invests in Vertoro to develop green lignin marine fuels
Maersk’s investment will be used to further develop and commercialise Vertoro’s patented liquid lignin technology. It will enable Vertoro to build a demonstration plant, which will become operational in 2022. The output of this plant will be used to develop marine fuels, in partnership with Maersk, as well as other applications for the materials and chemicals markets.
The minority investment supports A.P. Moller – Maersk’s work to decarbonise marine operations. Maersk expects several fuel types to exist alongside each other in the future and has identified four potential fuel pathways to the decarbonisation of marine fuels: biodiesel, alcohols, ammonia, and lignin-enhanced alcohols. Lignin is a class of complex organic polymers which form key structural materials in the support tissues of most plants.
Promising potential to decarbonise shipping
Lignin fuels have a promising potential when it comes to decarbonising shipping, according to Maersk.
“We consider Vertoro to be a leading start-up in the sustainable biomass-to-liquids space and we are excited to invest in the company and become part of the efforts to effectively scale up production of green fuels. Furthermore, we believe that we can offer value beyond capital through the expertise and scale of the broader Maersk organisation,” said Peter Votkjaer Jorgensen, a partner at Maersk Growth.
Founded in 2017, Vertoro produces liquid lignin exclusively from sustainably sourced forestry and agricultural residues by means of a patented thermochemical process. Like fossil oil, liquid lignin can be used as a platform for fuel, chemical and material applications.
“Our goal is to offer competitive, sustainable products to cost and environmentally conscious customers worldwide; a model inspired by no-frills disrupters in other industries that today are among the most profitable in their sector. This investment will bring us closer to reaching this goal in close cooperation with our committed team, our investors, and our partners,” said Michael Boot, co-founder and CEO, Vertoro.
The investment in Vertoro is the third investment in the fuels of the future from Maersk Growth in less than two months. In September, Maersk Growth invested in WasteFuel, a start-up focused on turning waste into sustainable aviation fuel, green bio-methanol, and renewable natural gas. This investment was followed by Prometheus, which is developing a direct air capture-technology to enable cost efficient, carbon neutral electro fuels.
These investment activities underline how Maersk Growth has added green fuels as an additional sub-investment theme under their overall umbrella of supply chain investments. Furthermore, these investments are part of the A.P. Moller – Maersk journey to become carbon neutral by 2050. Maersk recently announced a total of nine vessels capable of running on green methanol.