ClearFlame Engine Technologies, a startup developing net-zero engine technology (earlier post), has secured $17 million in Series A financing, which will enable commercialization of the company’s innovative engine technology for the long-haul trucking, agriculture and power generation sectors.
The financing was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures with participation from Mercuria, John Deere and Clean Energy Ventures.
The company’s engine technology enables low-carbon, renewable fuels such as ethanol to be integrated easily into existing diesel engine platforms, offering a lower-emission, lower-cost solution than diesel fuel. ClearFlame’s solution, grounded in technology developed during doctoral studies at Stanford University and validated using more than $3 million in grant funding, elevates combustion temperatures in order to enable use of non-traditional fuels without sacrificing performance.
Without soot from diesel fuels, compression ignition engines are no longer limited to lean operation and can instead use the chemically correct (i.e., stoichiometric) air-fuel ratio, the company explains. ClearFlame uses soot-free “Clear” Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) to maintain this ratio under varying load conditions.
Stoichiometric operation substantially increases power density and leaves an exhaust composition suitable for three-way catalysis (TWC) instead of Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) using urea/ammonia (DEF). Simplifying the engine’s aftertreatment system improves its reliability and reduces its cost by about 75%. It also improves its NOx reduction capability to near-zero levels. Using soot-free fuels also eliminates the need for a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF).
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.
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.—BJ Johnson, ClearFlame CEO and co-founder
Previously, ClearFlame has received $4 million in non-dilutive and grant funding from the Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas and Illinois Corn Growers Associations, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and others. The company completed its $3 million Series Seed financing in early 2020, led by Clean Energy Ventures.