Source: Mining Technology

Based in Denver and backed by Billionaire Bill Gates, Koloma has developed methods to drill Hydrogen from geological fossils similar to how we do oil and gas. This supply of Hydrogen which has been rumored to be nearly endless and available all over the world could be the key to a fossil-fuel-free world.

Hydrogen – The Future of Clean Energy

Fossil fuels, which include coal, oil, and natural gas, have been powering economies for over 150 years. In fact, over 80% of the world’s supply of energy is still derived from fossil fuels.

Despite supporting the industrial revolution and enabling the world to run, fossil fuels have done more harm than good to the world and its sustainability. First, upon combustion, these sources of energy release carbon dioxide which has led to the greenhouse effect resulting in environmental issues such as global warming.

Some of these energy sources also produce toxic gases which lead to respiratory problems in the long run. Regardless, fossil fuels have been found to be more affordable making it difficult for people to stop using them.

Unfortunately, this energy source is non-renewable and its supply is limited. As such, governments and organizations have been looking for renewable energy sources with less adverse effects on the environment.

Hydrogen has been found to be the best energy source since it is the most abundant element in the world and it is carbon-free. Additionally, it contains the highest energy content for any fuel by weight making it a perfect alternative.

The gas can be used as a gaseous or liquid zero-carbon fuel for aircraft, trucks, buses, cars, and even ships and trains, as well as stationary power generators.

Countries have begun transitioning hydrogen fuel and currently, about 100 million metric tonnes of H2 are used around the world annually. This creates a market worth over $120 billion which according to Goldman Sachs, is predicted to double to $250 billion by 2030 and top $1 trillion annually by 2050.

Presently, the world still derives hydrogen from natural gas which is a limited source and produces carbon, putting governments on a quest to find cleaner sources. To support this cause, the US government invested $9.5 billion in 2021 in addition to a tax credit of $3 per kg of Hydrogen last year.

Koloma’s Secretive Hydrogen Breakthrough

Tom Darrah, co-founder of Koloma and a world-class geochemist, believes he has found how to tap a nearly infinite supply of Hydrogen underneath the ground. “It’s on every continent,” he said in an interview with Forbes. H”The scale of how much there is is profound.”

The startup says that it has found out exactly how to drill this Hydrogen treasure and is planning on how to begin the extraction operations. Darrah, who has been listed on 16 filed patents for finding and efficiently extracting hydrogen, and his company have been working quietly on this project for two years now.

After a long period of research, the company has finally begun drilling its first wells in the Midwest and is testing rock and gas samples in Darrah’s lab. Through these tests, the company is looking to determine which sites have the best hydrogen volume and purity.

To fund its operations, Koloma has quietly raised $91 million from Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Energy Impact Partners, Evōk Innovations, Prelude Ventures, and Piva Capital. This makes it the most well-funded startup in the space.

So far, the company has not revealed when its mining operations will officially begin. However, once drilling operations start, Koloma could generate billions of dollars in revenue in just a decade. An energy expert, Michael Webber, has supported Darrah’s theory saying there could be trillions of kilograms of hydrogen trapped underground.

“A kilogram of hydrogen is worth $1. So if it’s a trillion kilograms, there’s like $1 trillion of hydrogen out there, some fraction of which can be produced successfully,” he said. “It’s big enough to be like, ‘Okay, this is exciting.’”

AI in Mining Geological Hydrogen

Koloma has never spoken to any media company about its operations and has been operating secretly until now. This could possibly be Koloma not wanting its competitors to know where it’s looking and drilling.

Koloma has two competitors, Natural Hydrogen Energy and HyTerra, who are preparing their own test wells in Nebraska and Kansas. Koloma won’t confirm if it’s also operating in that region.

The company, through its co-founder and CEO, Pete Johnson, revealed that “We’re focusing on the places where we not only think that there’s the right kind of gas, the right kind of rock, but places that can become commercial producers.”

Interestingly, Koloma has integrated Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning into its mining operations. For instance, Darrah in one of his filings has patented the use of satellites and laser lidar imaging with machine learning to do a highly detailed analysis of promising sites.

While it might seem like the idea is still far from reality, Koloma is confident that it is just a matter of years before the company begins mining and commercializing geological hydrogen. “We’re talking years, not decades,” said Webber.

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