Another piece of Maersk’s future fuel jigsaw is coming into place. Maersk Growth, the corporate venture arm of A.P. Moller – Maersk, has invested in Vertoro – a Dutch start-up focused on developing liquid lignin technology which can be used as a marine fuel. Lignin is a class of complex organic polymers which form key structural materials in the support tissues of most plants.
A demo plant for Vertoro’s patented liquid lignin technology will become operational next year. 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.
Maersk expects several fuel types to exist alongside each other in the future and has identified four potential fuel pathways to decarbonisation: biodiesel, alcohols, ammonia, and lignin-enhanced alcohols.
“We believe that we can offer value beyond capital through the expertise and scale of the broader Maersk organisation,” commented Peter Votkjaer Jorgensen, a partner at Maersk Growth.
Vertoro, founded in 2017, 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.
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. Later followed the investment in Prometheus which is developing a direct air capture-technology to enable cost efficient, carbon neutral electro fuels.
Maersk recently announced a total of nine vessels capable of running on green methanol.