H2SITE to scale Membrane Reactor Breakthrough Technology

Hydrogen is a promising pathway to decarbonise many parts of the economy but transporting it remains one of the biggest challenges.

H2SITE, a deep-tech pioneer in on-site hydrogen (H2) production, announced today that it has raised 12,5 M€ in a Series A funding round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), with participation from Equinor Ventures, ENGIE New Ventures, TECNALIA and institutional investors from the Basque Country (Capital Riesgo País Vasco (EZTEN FCR) and Seed Capital Bizkaia (SCB)).

The funding will accelerate the scale up of H2SITE’s integrated membrane reactor and membrane separation technologies to obtain fuel cell purity hydrogen from ammonia or methanol cracking, or enable hydrogen transportation in existing natural gas infrastructure. H2SITE will also increase its membrane manufacturing capabilities, operating a world-unique membrane manufacturing plant in the North of Spain.

“While much focus is given to hydrogen generation cost reduction, less attention is given to the reduction of hydrogen transport cost. Transporting hydrogen is a complex task, it being a small molecule that is difficult to contain. The current compression, storage, decompression, and transport solutions are both economically and environmentally inefficient”, says Andrés Galnares, H2SITE’s CEO.

TECNALIA, Spain’s largest private research center, and the Technical University of Eindhoven realised that 13 years ago and developed the advanced membrane reactors. They combine special membranes with one-process-step reactors to produce onsite, low-cost renewable hydrogen. ENGIE’s R&D entity CRIGEN contributed to the development of the commercial version of the reactor. Intellectual Property was transferred into the newly created H2SITE to commercialise the technology.

H2SITE has since developed these onsite hydrogen generation units. Double skin inorganic membranes with long lifespan, integrated into process units can both crack hydrogen carriers and separate the hydrogen from blends in natural gas infrastructure or purify it in dedicated hydrogen infrastructure.

“H2SITE has developed a solution that solves the transportation issue and will change the game for how quickly hydrogen can be deployed in already established pipelines which in turn could save billions of dollars in infrastructure costs,” said Carmichael Roberts of Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

H2SITE has shown strong commercial traction in 2022 and has recently been awarded projects to transform ammonia into H2 for the bus fleet in Birmingham, England, biogas into H2 for hydrogen refuelling stations in Spain and in France, as well as several separation projects from H2 / natural gas blends in the gas transport infrastructure that are under construction.

“As an early investor from the very beginning of H2SITE journey, ENGIE New Ventures showed its commitment to the development of a promising and versatile technology to scale up sustainable and efficient solutions for industry and mobility needs; this support materialised also through ENGIE developing some commercial projects in H2 refueling stations using H2SITE technology,” said Johann Boukhors, Managing Director of ENGIE New Ventures.

Gareth Burns, head of Equinor Ventures, said, “H2Site has developed innovative technologies enabling the use of existing natural gas infrastructure to bring clean hydrogen to end users. These solutions have a potential for direct application within Equinor’s future hydrogen projects and I look forward to seeing the technology further developed and deployed.”

“H2SITE is a unique combination of: excellent research, mostly funded by European Commission framework programs resulting in state-of-the-art membrane reactor technology developed by Tecnalia and TUe; a purposeful entrepreneurial “A-Team”; some of the best smart capital in the realm of decarbonisation in the World, topped with strong public support from with the participation of the sovereign funds of the Basque region, EZTEN FCR and Biscay region, SCB in the funding round; resulting in a gazelle massively incorporating top talent and anchoring a regional supply chain. This is the type of deep tech venture building endeavour that Tecnalia Ventures fosters, aimed at unfolding potential Europe has to lead the global decarbonisation challenge,” said Asier Rufino, CEO Tecnalia Ventures and H2SITE Chairman.

“This investment by BEV-E is much needed. The hydrogen economy needs to take off and I believe investments such as the current one may indeed be one of the triggers we’re waiting for,” said Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. “Facilitating hydrogen transport will be important to scale it up. This shows that public funds can be married with private funds successfully, as happened with BEV-E.”

European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix, said, “Together with our partners at the European Commission, we are supporting Breakthrough Energy Ventures Europe which is investing in European companies such as H2SITE to find innovative solutions that will put the world on track to net-zero emissions. Transporting green hydrogen from geographies with strong renewable energy resources to demand centres is an important part of the EU Hydrogen and decarbonisation strategy.”

Zohaib Ali

Zohaib is the editor of H2 Bulletin. Please click on the email icon to contact me if you want to talk about a news.
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