Twelve’s Transformational Mission: Obsoleting Fossil Fuels

Twelve’s tagline, “a world made from air,” seems quite incredible at face value.  The average person may not realize that gaseous components of air, like CO2 and H2O molecules, contain the ingredients required for hydrocarbons, namely carbon and hydrogen. Twelve, however, has managed to develop some special technology that finally makes it possible to take CO2 and H2O, run them through an efficient electrolysis process, and get CO and H, which can be blended to create synthetic hydrocarbons that are exact substitutes for kerosene and naptha, which until now, have been produced from oil that has been extracted from the ground.

We all know that burning oil, coal or gas and releasing CO2 emissions is what is causing our atmosphere to warm. With every gallon of gasoline burned, we’re releasing 2.7 times that volumetric amount in pollution, most of which converts to gas that is invisible to the eye but which traps solar radiation and warms up in the atmosphere.

Twelve’s technology, however, utilizes CO2 that is “captured” rather than released into the atmosphere, and it blends that with hydrogen extracted from water using an electrochemical process powered by clean energy, to create a carbon-neutral high-octane fuel that is chemical identical to kerosene, also called Jet A.  Twelve’s sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which it calls E-Jet, can be substituted as a way to enable the aviation industry to achieve carbon-neutrality between now and 2050.

The key for Twelve, which uses a “power-to-liquid” pathway to create its carbon-neutral E-Jet, is to be able to power this production without releasing more carbon dioxide in the process. To do so, Twelve needs to have access to abundant, always-on, affordable and clean energy. Which explains why Twelve opted to build its first production plant not in California, where the power mix is primarily natural gas, but in Washington State, where Twelve can get access to hydropower. 

With that source of energy, Twelve’s fuel, once deliveries begin later this year, can help reduce aviation emissions by as much as 90%. In the future, Twelve’s growing E-Jet production business will benefit from being able to cost-reduce by being sited near sources of supply for its E-Jet, captured CO2 and airports where its customers refuel. We suspect that, in the future, being able to site a small advanced nuclear power plant near where Twelve’s factories want to be, could give them yet another competitive advantage.

Meanwhile, the airline industry’s projected demand for SAF far exceeds all known production from all sources, so in the short term, Twelve is able to sell its E-Jet fuel at a premium, while also qualifying for a myriad of local, state and federal incentives aimed at helping businesses like Twelve scale up production capabilities in combination with non-dilutive grants and sales of Scope 3 carbon credits.

Twelve’s current Series C financing is providing it with the capital it needs to finish manufacturing its initial stock of reactors and complete the construction of its first commercial-scale fuel production plant in Washington State, where Twelve has a firm contract for hydropower sufficient to meet its production needs for now. Twelve is on track to begin this production and begin delivering initial quantities of E-Jet to Alaska Airlines for use on its flights later this year.

Nucleation is thrilled to have co-invested in Twelve’s Series C round together with DCVC, Capricorn (Jeff Skoll), TPG (private equity), Pulse Fund and join many other investors, which include Microsoft, Shopify, Alaska Airlines and the US Air Force. In 2023, Twelve was name one of the Climate Tech Companies to Watch by the MIT Technology Review and was featured in this Bloomberg Green article, Microsoft-Backed Clean Jet Fuel Startup Fires Up New CO2 Converter, a Bloomberg Originals Episode: Dusk or Dawn and other press.

In addition to SAFs, Twelve’s reactors can produce a range of carbon-neutral synthetic hydrocarbons, especially e-naphtha, that can be sold into other markets as clean ingredients to enable consumer product companies to make a wide array of carbon-neutral manufactured plastics items, reducing their carbon footprint by over 90%. Twelve has already successfully tested their use through partnerships with Mercedes-Benz (for use in car parts), Procter and Gamble (ingredients for Tide) and Pangaia (for the world’s first CO2-made sunglass lenses, in a production run that sold out in under two hours).

Soon after we invested, Twelve was in London to jointly announce a 10+ year, 1 billion liter off-take agreement with the International Airlines Group (IAG), the world’s largest publicly traded airline group, which was immediately recognized as the “SAF deal of the year.” Twelve’s deliveries under that contract will help decarbonize five European airlines, which include British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, potentially as soon as 2025. This delivery contract is a testament both to the level of demand and to customer confidence in Twelve and its final product. It also signals that funding development of future decarbonization technologies can fundamentally transform our energy future and begin to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Leave a Reply