Hydrogen panel maker Solhyd is raising growth money

Last modified: 20 February 2024 13:43
Up to 6 million euros in seed capital for golden hydrogen from Solhyd, a spin-off of KU Leuven.

Solhyd, known for its hydrogen panels that produce renewable hydrogen directly from air and solar energy, is raising seed capital from a number of leading entrepreneurs.

The consortium of investors is committed to pumping up to 6 million euros into the company in the coming years. A first tranche of 2 million euros in starting capital will be put on the table on February 7, 2024. The money will be used to further optimize the basic technology in this phase of the company and roll it out to pilot applications. There is a lot of potential for this technology, which produces renewable hydrogen without the need for a power grid or liquid water, and without the use of rare materials.

The investors are Vansan Investments (the family office around the brickmaker Vandersanden), the Limburg entrepreneur Luc Thijs (ex-Alro), Keiretsu Ventures (ex-Key Technology) and Lieven Danneels (co-CEO Televic Group). In addition, the university’s own Gemma Frisius seed capital fund is also getting involved.

“As investors, we are very pleased to have been selected by the Solhyd team to invest and provide our knowledge and skills to take the company to the next level”, adds Frank Zwerts (Keiretsu Ventures). “We are pleased that research of this scale of deep tech can also be given opportunities in Flanders. If we succeed in making Solhyd technology scalable, we will have been able to support a major latent player in the rapidly growing green energy market.”

Potential of technology for production of renewable hydrogen
Hydrogen will play an important role in the future energy mix in the transition to a CO2-neutral society. If made from green energy, it is a renewable source of energy (‘green hydrogen’), which you can also easily store and transport. However, green electricity is scarce and still expensive, which is why hydrogen production is currently mainly based on natural gas (‘grey hydrogen’).

That is why Solhyd offers an alternative: ‘golden hydrogen’. “That is hydrogen made directly from what is available everywhere, light and air”, says Jan Rongé, CEO of the company.

As a spin-off from KU Leuven, Solhyd builds on the technology developed at the university. The Solhyd core technology was developed by Jan Rongé and Tom Bosserez, who completed a PhD under Professor Johan Martens. Together with their team, they have been working on the science behind this product for more than 10 years.

The intellectual property, knowledge and patents surrounding the core technology have now been contributed to the spin-off with the aim of further developing them within Solhyd.

“The Solhyd technology consists of cylinders that contain materials to remove moisture from the air and split it into hydrogen and oxygen by means of a membrane. Both the materials and the device were developed from the start to be robust and affordable, without the use of rare materials”, said Tom Bosserez, CTO of the company.

The technology has been demonstrated in hydrogen panels in recent years, demonstrating that the technology works well, even in a fickle climate like ours. The hydrogen panels can be used almost anywhere in the world.

Internationally, there is a lot of attention for Solhyd’s technology and its applications in a climate-neutral economy. Green hydrogen is an essential element in making sectors such as steel production and chemicals independent of oil and natural gas. But certain decentralized applications at SMEs can also benefit from this green fuel. The latest climate report and the recent climate summit have once again shown that things need to happen much faster.

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