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HomeStartupPhotoncycle targets low-cost power storage with a intelligent hydrogen answer

Photoncycle targets low-cost power storage with a intelligent hydrogen answer

For years, the photo voltaic power sector has grappled with interseasonal power storage. The power to harness the excess photo voltaic power of summer time months to be used throughout the winter has remained an elusive aim, with current options like batteries falling brief because of prohibitive prices and restricted lifespans. Hydrogen, in the meantime, regardless of its clean-burning properties, has been sidelined because of inefficiency and excessive prices.

Photoncycle — a startup rising from the depths of an accelerator in Oslo Science Park in Oslo, Norway — has been engaged on an answer. With a imaginative and prescient as brilliant because the summer time solar, the startup claims its stable hydrogen-based expertise can retailer power extra effectively in an ammonia synthesis reactor. The declare is that this tech does the storage extra cost-effectively than any battery or liquid hydrogen answer in the marketplace.


A schematic of how Photoncycle envisions its full system when put in at a home. Picture Credit: Photoncycle

“Lithium-ion batteries use pricey metals. Our materials is tremendous low-cost: To retailer 10,000 kilowatt-hours, it prices round $1,500, so it’s nearly nothing. As well as, our storage answer is 20 occasions the density of a lithium-ion battery, and also you don’t lose the present,” founder and CEO Bjørn Brandtzaeg explains in an interview with TechCrunch. “Which means we have now a system the place you’ll be able to include power over time, enabling seasonal storage. It’s a very completely different factor than conventional batteries.” 

Photoncycle employs water and electrical energy to provide hydrogen. That in itself isn’t unusual when you’ve been following gasoline cell car expertise. Nevertheless, the corporate’s method incorporates an revolutionary twist: a reversible high-temperature gasoline cell. This superior gasoline cell can produce hydrogen and generate electrical energy throughout the similar unit. 

The core of Photoncycle’s innovation lies in its therapy of hydrogen. They course of the hydrogen after which make the most of its expertise to transform and retailer it in a stable kind. The corporate claims this storage technique isn’t solely protected, owing to the non-flammable and non-explosive nature of the stable state, but in addition extremely environment friendly. It permits hydrogen storage at densities roughly 50% higher than liquid hydrogen, presenting a major development in hydrogen storage options. These improvements kind the cornerstone of Photoncycle’s system, facilitating protected and dense hydrogen storage, which the corporate says is a large step ahead in power expertise.

Present clear power options similar to rooftop solar energy are restricted by inconsistent provide because of the unpredictable nature of climate circumstances. A strong, reusable power storage answer might bridge these timings, guaranteeing a secure power provide when these renewable sources encounter unavoidable intermittent durations. 

Nice in principle, however not with out its personal challenges.

“The Netherlands is the nation in Europe with the very best density of rooftop photo voltaic. We’re seeing a large ramp now due to excessive power costs; everybody desires photo voltaic on the roof,” Brandtzaeg says. He provides, nevertheless, that this technique can backfire for owners: “In July final 12 months, within the Netherlands, in the midst of the day, you needed to pay €500 a megawatt hour to export your electrical energy.”

Placing the power storage together with the home producing the ability successfully lets homes go off-grid. Photoncycle says it has examined and labored the principle parts of its answer — the following step is to combine it right into a system. If profitable, the corporate says it may well severely problem Powerwall, Tesla’s lithium-ion battery answer.

David Gerez, CTO at Photoncycle, and Ole Laugerud, who’s a Photoncycle chemist, in Photoncycle’s purpose-built lab, which has been operational for shut to 2 years. Picture Credit: Photoncycle

“It is a comparatively complicated system — that’s why we have now so many PhDs in several disciplines engaged on this. The rationale why Elon Musk mentioned that hydrogen is silly, is that while you convert electrical energy to hydrogen and again, you might be dropping fairly a little bit of power,” Brandtzaeg says. He believes his firm can flip this bug right into a characteristic. “In a residential setting the place 70% of power wants are heating, there is a chance to make use of that extra warmth to offer scorching water. We’ll goal markets the place persons are utilizing pure fuel for heating in the intervening time after which exchange the fuel boiler in the home utilizing the present water-based infrastructure.”

Brandtzaeg’s confidence concerning the idea’s operational framework is compelling. He gestured towards a small mock-up of their operations plant inside their labs, scaled all the way down to the dimensions of a automobile battery. Brandtzaeg believes this scaling must be problem-free, citing it as the first cause they felt assured shifting ahead with the venture. 

With regards to energy supply, it takes a short time for the hydrogen to generate electrical energy, so whereas it’s spooling up, the corporate depends on an middleman, extra typical, battery for load balancing. The agency definitely has traders’ consideration: Photoncycle simply raised $5.3 million (€5 million) to construct its first few energy storage units in Denmark, which Photoncycle has chosen as its check market. 

“We might have raised 10 occasions as a lot as we did, given the curiosity. However after this increase, I’m nonetheless a majority proprietor,” Brandtzaeg says. “I wished to maintain management over the enterprise so long as attainable and never increase extra capital than we have to convey this service to market.” 



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