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. Our next steps are to perform long-term testing and to optimize various components. We plan to perform automated testing of multiple months with the pilot. Additionally, the control software of the pilot is planned to be further developed 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 are already actively working towards our next major milestone which is to realize a commercial-scale pilot with steel processing factory in Switzerland. To support this, a system level model for a multi-Arb farm will be developed and used to design the commercial pilot. 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 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 has already secured further financial support from FIT SEED and Venture Kick, and is in the process of securing additional 0.5 M CHF in non-dilutive funding and ~1.5 M CHF via its seed fund raising round.
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 03.01.2022