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Saudi Aramco Invests in U.S. NatGas-to-Fuels Company

A unit of Saudi Aramco has joined existing investors to lead a $30 million round of financing in Siluria Technologies, a San Francisco-based company that has developed technology to produce liquid fuels from natural gas.

Siluria has a catalytic process for transforming natural gas into transportation fuels and commodity chemicals "in an efficient, cost-effective, scalable manner using processes that can be seamlessly integrated into existing industry infrastructure," the company said. It has a portfolio of process configurations with applications in upstream, midstream gas processing, downstream chemicals production and refining operations.

Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) led the Series D financing round, which brought total funding for Siluria to nearly $100 million since its inception. The company is working on securing another $50 million of Series D financing.

At commercial scale, Siluria's process would enable refiners and fuel manufacturers to produce transportation fuels that cost "considerably less" than current petroleum-based fuels, while reducing overall emissions, nitrogen oxides, sulfur and particulate matter, according to the company. Fuels made with Siluria's processes are also compatible with existing vehicles, pipelines and other infrastructure and could be integrated into global supply chains.

In March Siluria unveiled a development unit for producing liquid fuels from natural gas, based on proprietary oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) and ethylene-to-liquid (ETL) technologies. The announcement was made at Siluria's facility in Hayward, CA, which began operations last November.

"The successful scale-up of a commercially ready process for producing fuels from natural gas represents another key milestone in our strategy," said Siluria CEO Ed Dineen at the time. "We have already demonstrated how our technology can be employed to produce gasoline, an achievement that paves the way for first commercial facilities producing liquid fuels in the 2017 time frame."

Siluria's OCM and ETL technologies are said to form a "unique and efficient process" for transforming methane into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other liquid fuels. Unlike the high-temperature, high-pressure cracking processes now employed to produce fuels and chemicals, Siluria uses catalytic processes to create longer-chain, higher-value materials, thereby reducing operating costs and capital, the company said.

Siluria recently announced a partnership with The Linde Group, a gases and engineering company, to offer a package combining Siluria technology with Linde's separations and recovery systems for licensing to the petrochemical industry at existing or new ethylene plants.

Earlier this year, Siluria said it would build an OCM demonstration plant at Braskem's petrochemical plant site in La Porte, TX. Braskem produces ethylene and plastics in the Americas. Siluria and Braskem have also agreed to explore commercializing the technology. The OCM demonstration plant is expected to begin operations later this year.

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