Safran continues its purchases from promising start-ups. After entering the capital of the French company Greenerwave (antennas for the spatial internet) last week, the French engine and equipment manufacturer is taking, via Safran Corporate Ventures, a minority stake in the capital of the Californian nugget Avnos, alongside other investors .
The young company based in Los Angeles announced that it had raised $36 million, during an operation led by Nextera Energy Ressources, presented as the “largest global producer of renewable energy (wind, solar )”. Safran Corporate Ventures therefore participated in this round alongside Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners and Rusheen Capital Management. The transaction comes after Avnos signed strategic commercial agreements with Shell Ventures, ConocoPhillips, JetBlue Ventures and the Grantham Foundation, as well as the launch of pilot projects in cooperation with the US Department of Energy and the Office of Naval American Research. The funds raised will be used to “deploy CO2 capture units in North America and Europe but also to open a new R center
Avnos was identified by the technology monitoring teams at Safran Corporate Ventures during the establishment of a thematic monograph on carbon capture technologies developed around the world. Combined with hydrogen, CO2 makes it possible to produce synthetic fuels or e-fuels. These are of interest to aircraft manufacturers and airlines, as part of the decarbonization of air transport. Given the volumes required for aviation, e-fuels provide a complementary solution to other sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) such as liquid hydrogen and biofuels. Especially since e-fuels are transportable and storable in existing networks and can be used to power aircraft engines already in service.
Created in 2020, Avnos, which is a spin-off from the US Department of Energy, has developed a breakthrough CO2 capture technology in ambient air, called Hybrid Direct Air Capture (HDAC). “This process is very efficient and more economical than competing processes (liquids in particular) because it is three times less expensive in energy and does not consume water. In addition, the capture units can be anywhere and do not need to be close to another industrial site,” explains Éric Dalbiès, Director of Research, Technology and Innovation at Safran. Another method of capturing CO2 consists of extracting CO2 directly from factory waste such as cement factories, for example.
In addition, Avnos is entering the large-scale industrialization phase of its process. “In 2024, the start-up plans to commission a pilot CO2 capture unit with a capacity of 30 tonnes. Then increase this capacity tenfold with a 300-ton unit. Its objective is then to install ten modules with a capacity of 300 tonnes on a partner site,” explains Éric Dalbiès.
By investing in Avnos, Safran does not intend to diversify into the production of e-fuels. “Our participation is not intended to carry out a financial transaction but to identify technologies external to Safran and to enter into cooperation agreements by offering the support of our R teams.
In January 2022, Safran Corporate Ventures invested alongside Engie New Ventures, the energy company's venture capital fund, in the German start-up Ineratec, which has developed technologies for the development and production of neutral synthetic fuels. in carbon. This with modular industrial units, which transform green hydrogen from renewable electricity and CO2 from biomass or captured, into carbon-neutral fuels, such as e-methane, e-diesel, or 'e-kerosene. Created in 2015, the Safran Corporate Ventures fund, with 80 million euros, has since invested in 23 start-ups.