ClearFlame Engine Technologies announces it has secured $17 million in Series A financing to help further advance and commercialize its technology. The startup is developing a solution which enables the use of low-carbon, renewable fuels such as ethanol in existing diesel engine platforms. Doing so will help to bring lower cost, low-emissions options to the heavy-duty on- and off-highway equipment industries.
This new financing was lead by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and included participation from Mercuria, John Deere and Clean Energy Ventures.
Per the company's press release announcing the new financing, A ClearFlame-enabled engine meets the performance and efficiency requirements for diesel engines while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter, helping to improve air quality and mitigate climate change. In October 2020, the company announced testing of its engine technology had successfully matched the torque and power of a commercial diesel engine using ethanol instead of diesel fuel.
Listen to our podcast interview with ClearFlame's founders BJ Johnson and Julie Blumreiter to learn more about the technology and the benefits it can provide to help reduce emissions.
“Our technology will enable the rapid decarbonization of diesel-dominated sectors, and this funding advances our path to commercialization with demonstration trucks on the road by the end of this year, in parallel with agricultural equipment and generator set deployments in 2022,” says BJ Johnson, ClearFlame CEO and cofounder, in the company's press release. “Our investors share a common mission to support solutions that drive rapid carbon mitigation and ClearFlame’s technology is achieving that through a platform that can be deployed globally this decade.”
“While we’re excited about greater adoption of EVs and hydrogen-fueled mobility, we need different types of innovation to address hard to decarbonize industries,” says Carmichael Roberts, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, in ClearFlame's press release. “ClearFlame’s engine modification technology makes it easy and economical to move away from fossil fuels, while keeping the efficiency and durability of the diesel engine - it’s a win-win.”
“As one of the world’s largest commodities traders, Mercuria was an early adopter of bringing environmental products, including ethanol, into its trading portfolio. Biofuel refining enables Mercuria to directly manage quality, supply and price risk. Mercuria’s strategic investment in ClearFlame’s technology complements its continued commitment to biofuels as part of the energy transition,” says Boris Bystrov of Mercuria, in ClearFlame's press release. “We strongly believe ClearFlame is positioned to make decarbonization in heavy-duty industry cost-effective by using existing liquid fueling infrastructure as the catalyst, which can drive more rapid market adoption.”
Investment will accelerate new powertrain technology
John Deere says in its press release announcing the company's investment in ClearFlame that doing so is in line with its strategic vision to accelerate and lead the industry in low- and zero-carbon powertrain technology. Like many companies in the heavy-equipment industries, John Deere has been researching and developing various powertrain technologies, including electric and alternative fuel powered options.
As part of its investment in ClearFlame, John Deere will supply an engine for use in conceptual testing to help ClearFlame further validate its technology.
“We made this investment to stay on the leading edge of developments in renewable fuel technology,” says Pierre Guyot, Senior Vice President, John Deere Power Systems, in the company's press release announcing its investment in ClearFlame. “ClearFlame’s compression ignition engine technology has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions while continuing to provide the performance and durability our customers expect from John Deere engines.”
“ClearFlame’s mission is to decarbonize the hardest-to-electrify sectors in a rapid and cost-effective way. Expanding our solution from heavy-duty trucking to agriculture and other off-highway markets delivers on that promise, offering significant sustainability and economic benefits that won't compromise engine performance,” says ClearFlame's Johnson in John Deere's press release. “We look forward to working together with John Deere and supporting its commitment to reducing net CO2 emissions through providing renewable energy solutions.”
John Deere says in its press release that using ethanol in place of petroleum diesel fuel in diesel engines significantly reduces carbon emissions and air quality emissions. In addition, ethanol is widely available and can offer a high-efficiency, liquid alternative fuel option.
The company also says it understands the importance for renewable fuel options and is committed to exploring new solutions. “Compression ignition engines have a long life ahead — in terms of both the current source of diesel and a wide variety of alternative fuel types,” says Guyot. “John Deere already offers biomass-based diesel compatibility on our engines. These investments are the right thing to do for environmental, economic and rural-development benefits.”