Carbon capture start-up Carbon Ridge has sealed $6m in funding from a group of investors including shipowners Crowley and Berge Bulk.

The California-based company said the investor group headed by the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment is providing capital that will allow it to develop its onboard carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology with an eye to an onboard trial in 2023.

The company announced a memorandum of understanding in March with New York-listed Scorpio Tankers with an aim of exploring testing on board one of the shipowner’s vessels.

“We believe onboard CCS will be the lowest-cost, efficient pathway to achieve large-scale and near-term decarbonisation in the maritime industry,” said Chase Dwyer, founder and chief executive of Carbon Ridge.

The company touts a modular and relatively streamlined onboard system for CCS and removal that would enable vessels to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gasses by up to 95%.

It has been working with a land-based system already and the new capital will enable it to design and transfer the technology to shipping, Dwyer told TradeWinds.

“The money is to go take that land-based system and build it out so that it’s maritime-ready,” he said. “It will allow a proof of concept for the entire process, not just the capture. It’s going to give us good learning and a good package to bring to investors in the shipping world.”

Both shipowners in the new investment said the venture could be a key piece of their decarbonisation goals.

“Carbon Ridge’s novel approach to significantly lessen the impact of maritime emissions aligns with our target sustainability goals and we are pleased to support the scale-up of their technology,” said Crowley chief executive Tom Crowley.

The investment by the Florida company — whose fleet includes tugs, tank barges, container vessels and ro-ros that are owned, chartered or managed — emerges shortly after it backed another green shipping technology company by joining Chevron in a Series A funding round for hydrogen power systems maker Zero Emissions Industries.

Singapore-based Berge Bulk sees the Carbon Ridge effort as part of its broader sustainability mission.

“We believe in the potential of onboard CCS as an effective solution to enable Berge Bulk’s commitment toward sea zero emissions,” said chief executive James Marshall.

Dwyer told TradeWinds he met another investor in the capital raise, Jim McDermott of Rusheen Capital Management, about four years ago and decided that carbon capture was a superior solution to various alternative fuels for shipping in the near term. Plug and Play Ventures also participated in the investment.

Crowley chairman and chief executive Tom Crowley is a supporter of the Carbon Ridge efforts towards onboard CCS and disposal. Photo: Crowley Maritime

Carbon Ridge began grappling with one of the pitfalls of the technology: the large size of the installed equipment on board a vessel.

“It’s basically a modular solution that reduces the size. There’s a 65% to 75% reduction in overall volume. Once we have a system at scale, we think the economics will work,” Dwyer said.

Sea trials may be possible by mid to late 2023, he said.

“Crowley and Berge Bulk run their ships on routes that are predictable, Crowley more short-haul and Berge Bulk more long-haul,” he said.

“The technology is really twofold. Can you get it to work onboard? And can you manage the carbon dioxide that’s the byproduct and get it somewhere where it can be used or sequestered permanently?”

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Dwyer is hesitant to offer an estimate for the installed cost of onboard capture technology at this early stage. The cost, which will depend on the size of the vessel and its main engine, could be between $100 and $150 per tonne of CO2 initially, he said.

Kevin Tidwell, managing director of Grantham Foundation, said: “Shipping will be one of the most difficult industries to decarbonise. We believe that Carbon Ridge’s maritime carbon capture systems will be cost-effective, ubiquitous and ultimately bend down the curve of shipping emissions.”

The Carbon Ridge management team includes Jasneet Manaise as vice president of operations and development, and Jorge Plaza as vice president of technology.