The clean energy landscape received a seismic jolt as Denver-based startup Koloma secured a massive $91 million funding round, backed by climate champion Bill Gates and other prominent investors.
The funding will drive Koloma’s ambitious plan to tap into natural hydrogen reserves buried deep beneath the earth’s surface in the U.S. Midwest. This venture has the potential to usher in a new era of clean energy and revolutionize the global hydrogen market.
Natural hydrogen, also known as gold or white hydrogen, has intrigued scientists for centuries, but its true potential remained largely unexplored. Koloma’s breakthrough revelation puts this enigmatic energy source in the spotlight. Unlike conventional hydrogen, natural hydrogen is considered a primary source of energy, comparable to fossil fuels but without the carbon footprint.
Koloma’s pioneering technology leverages a process called serpentinization to extract hydrogen-rich fluids and minerals from iron- and magnesium-based minerals deep underground. This method offers a regenerating supply of hydrogen, promising to deliver a staggering 23 million tonnes of hydrogen annually—equivalent to a quarter of the current global hydrogen demand.
The unique attributes of geologic hydrogen position it as a compelling green energy solution. As a primary energy source, geologic hydrogen requires no external energy inputs, and its production process results in minimal surface disruption. With a lower carbon footprint compared to conventional electrolysis methods, geologic hydrogen presents a promising alternative for the clean energy transition.
Headed by Co-founder and CTO Tom Darrah, a renowned Earth sciences professor with 16 hydrogen extraction patents, Koloma is dedicated to unraveling the vast potential of natural hydrogen. Using advanced technology, including AI-assisted laser imaging and satellite assessments, Koloma analyzes samples from its Midwestern wells to pinpoint optimal hydrogen-rich sites.
Operating in stealth mode since its inception in 2021, Koloma’s breakthrough has catapulted it to become the most-funded company in the clean energy sector. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, alongside Energy Impact Partners, Evōk Innovations, Prelude Ventures, and Piva Capital, collectively invested $91 million in the venture.
The global hydrogen market, currently valued at over $120 billion, is poised for exponential growth. Industry experts predict that natural hydrogen could disrupt fossil fuels, driving the market to reach $250 billion by 2030 and a staggering $1 trillion by 2050. Hydrogen is emerging as a critical element in the race to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, as recognized by the International Energy Agency.
With governments worldwide increasingly prioritizing green energy, subsidies and incentives have become instrumental in accelerating the adoption of hydrogen. In the U.S., clean hydrogen projects are backed by a $9 billion allocation in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act offers a $3/kilo tax credit for zero-carbon fuel—criteria that natural hydrogen meets. Koloma plans to leverage these subsidies to boost its commercial operations.
As the world grapples with the climate crisis, Koloma’s groundbreaking venture could not have come at a more opportune time. With a vision to unlock the potential of geologic hydrogen, the startup sets the stage for a sustainable future, where clean hydrogen extraction becomes as commonplace as fossil fuel drilling. By tapping into nature’s hidden bounty, Koloma paves the way for a cleaner, greener energy revolution.