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Maersk invests in liquid lignin start up in search for future fuels

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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. Maersk’s investment will be used to further develop and commercialise Vertoro’s patented liquid lignin technology, and it will enable Vertoro to build a demo 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 decarbonisation: 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.

Maersk said lignin fuels have a promising potential when it comes to decarbonising shipping. “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, 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.

“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 & CEO at 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 it 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.

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