Dealflow | November 2, 2021

Breakthrough Energy Ventures backs ClearFlame’s zero-carbon fuel for diesel engines

Roodgally Senatus
ImpactAlpha Editor

Roodgally Senatus

ImpactAlpha, November 2 — Billionaire-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures raised $1 billion early this year to invest in game-changing climate solutions.

Its latest: Geneva, Illinois-based ClearFlame Engine Technologies, which aims to replace petroleum-based fuel in diesel engines with zero-carbon liquid fuel, such as ethanol. ClearFlame says it can decarbonize diesel engines at low cost without compromising performance.

Other Breakthrough investments include low-carbon lithium extraction company Lilac Solutions, biotech startup Pivot Bio, electric aircraft developer Heart Aerospace and electric motor maker Turntide Technologies.


The $17 million round will help ClearFlame get demonstration trucks on the road by the end of this year and agricultural equipment and generator sets deployed in 2022, said CEO BJ Johnson. The company is targeting heavy-duty industries such as long-haul trucking and agriculture that rely on diesel fuel.

Other investors in the deal included Clean Energy Ventures, John Deere and commodities trader Mercuria

Catalytic climate capital

Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, a new unit of Breakthrough Energy, launched in July to catalyze investment capital for early-stage climate solutions on the edge of commercialization.

The blended finance fund raised about $1.5 billion from BlackRock Foundation, Microsoft, General Motors, American Airlines and other corporate backers (for context, see “Call No. 33: Using catalytic capital to fill climate finance gaps from the bottom up).