SoHHytec has just received a CHF 100’000 Tech Seed loan from the FIT to support its sustainable production of hydrogen. With its artificial tree named “Arb”, the company is able to produce hydrogen directly on site thanks to two key resources: water and sunlight. Arb is already installed on the EPFL Campus (partner of SoHHytec) as a pilot project.
The SoHHytec company is initiating, on its own scale, a small revolution in the world of green energy, and more precisely energy produced from hydrogen. This resource, described as a sustainable alternative to the conventional highly polluting fossil fuels, is attracting more and more countries. However, hydrogen, in its current use, raises several issues. In fact, about 96% of the world’s hydrogen comes from centralised installations, requiring major logistical infrastructures to move the resource to the requesting countries. Moreover, hydrogen is mainly produced from fossil sources and CO2-emitting processes. The “Arb” artificial tree developed by the company is emerging as one of the solutions to this dual problem.
Arb is based on SoHHytec’s patented ‘integrated photo-electrochemical’ device. How does it work? Water is pumped into the heart of the Arb, while the sunrays falling on the parabolic reflector are concentrated on the photovoltaic surface of the device. The combined action of heat and light induced electrical charge generation leads to the splitting of water molecule to produce hydrogen in a highly efficient way. Thanks to this process of artificial photosynthesis, there is no need to bring hydrogen from centralized production facilities and no trace of fossil fuels – a major cost saving and an immense positive environmental impact. In addition, the simultaneous production of oxygen, electricity and heat with hydrogen makes the system extremely versatile.
SoHHytec’s team, which is looking to expand, is now based on four complementary profiles. Saurabh Tembhurne (Dr.), CEO and founder, decided to surround himself from the very beginning of the adventure with Sophia Haussener (Prof.), co-founder and chief scientific advisor, and Meng Lin (Dr.), co-founder and responsible for Asia. Daniel Brandenburger, business consultant, completes the team.
A quartet with a clear synergy, as evidenced by the numerous supports obtained (past and present). Among the most important: Venture Kick, BRIDGE PoC and the Swiss Federal Office of Energy for the R&D part and support from the European Space Agency. The project has also been awarded several prizes, including – to name but a few – the Nanshan Entrepreneurship Start Contest prize, the place of Finalist in the AIT camp of Venture Lab, and first place in the Buhler Energy Challenge 2015.
The CHF 100’000 Tech Seed loan granted by the FIT will enable SoHHytec to set up long-term validation and automation tests, develop the pilot product (hardware and software), and acquire customers and partners.