Hydrogen is recognized as a sustainable alternative to conventional fossil fuels. Hydrogen is already widely used as a feedstock and processing component in a multitude of industrial processes (e.g., metalworking, fertilizer, electronics, etc.) and its adoption as a fuel for mobility and energy storage is growing. However, there exists no effective on-site clean-hydrogen production system: ~96% of the world’s hydrogen demand is met by transporting fossil-fuel-based hydrogen from centralized steam-reforming facilities. This causes pollution and additional expenses.
SoHHytec SA, together with LRESE at EPFL, has developed the Arb an artificial tree offering a versatile solution to these problems. We use our innovative patented technology based on an integrated photo-electrochemical device. The Arb uses sustainable resources (sunlight and water) to produce highly pure hydrogen, and also co-generates oxygen, electricity, and heat all at the same time and on the same site; with efficiencies of ~70% requiring minimal ground/roof space.
We aim at providing onsite fuel and power generation systems for industrial (energy, chemical, mobility, oil & gas, steel industries, etc.), residential (rural and urban), and agricultural/farming sectors. Arb saves 15 tonnes of CO2 emissions for each tonne of hydrogen produced and has a potential to reduce emissions by more than 500 million tones/year in the near future
We have designed, built and operated a first version of our Arb pilot at EPFL, Lausanne campus. During the first half of the Innobooster proejct, we optimized various components and started the first phase of our long-term testing compaign. This testing will continue for multiple months. Additionally, the control software of the pilot was extended and optimized to allow for this automated operation. The pilot’s flexiblisation i.e. the ability to produce hydrogen, oxygen, electricity and heat in varying ratios as well as ability to produce fuel even during night will be tested for industry-relevant scenarios.
We also secured our first industrial customer which is a steel processing factory in Switzerland, where we are deploying an ‘Arbs Garden‘ comprising of 5 Arbs. To support this, a system level model for a multi-Arb farm will be developed and used to design the commercial pilot. The first phase of development i.e. model for single Arb, has already been completed in the first half of the proejct. This virtual multi-Arb pilot will serve as a key design and implementation tool for our future projects.
SoHHytec SA, spin-off from LRESE EPFL, is in the process of concluding collaborations with additional steel manufacturing companies, energy and gas utilities, fueling station developers, oil and gas companies in order to broaden and expedite the introduction of the technology to market. SoHHytec recently closed its seed fundraising round of 2 M USD led by Singapore based VC, in addition to already secured financial support from FIT SEED, Venture Kick and ESA-BIC CH.
Our commercial pilot in Switzerland i.e. the Arb Garden is planned to be followed by commercial pilots around the world—noticeably in the EU, US, and India—targeting the growing market for clean hydrogen generation worldwide, which is estimated at EUR 120 billion.
Persons involved in the project
Last update to this project presentation 07.04.2022