Hydrogen Solar was born of a vision by its founder, Julian Keable, for a clean renewable source of energy. He met Prof. Michael Graetzel, head of PhotoChemistry at the Swiss Federal University of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, a world renowned expert in the application of nanotechnology to photovoltaic devices and coinventor of the Tandem Cell™, which uses sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
The Tandem Cell™ concept was invented jointly by the EPFL and the University of Geneva (UoG), having been made possible thanks to a joint R&D project that was supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy over a considerable period of time. The Tandem Cell™ concept is the subject of a joint patent by Prof. Graetzel (EPFL) and Ian Augustynski (UoG).
Julian purchased an exclusive world-wide license from the EPFL for the application of the Tandem Cell™ technology. Further patents have been filed by Hydrogen Solar for the core components and coating technologies. The key objective is to industrialise and commercialise the technology, developing low cost and reliable volume production methods for the Tandem Cell™ so that it can generate hydrogen in a cost-effective way. In parallel we will improve the conversion efficiency of the tandem cell from the 3% previously demonstrated in the EPFL/UoG laboratories to 10% or 15%. We plan to lead and participate in engineering demonstration projects to prove the advantages of the Tandem Cell™ for industrial processes, vehicle refueling and subsequently applications in domestic and commercial buildings.
The Hydrogen Solar portfolio also includes various intellectual property rights for the production of hydrogen from biomass waste from industrial food processing.
Seed capital investment and management support was provided by E-Synergy during 2002, and they recruited the Chief Executive, who joined in October that year. An industrial version of the spray pyrolysis coating technology needed for the key component of efficient Tandem Cells™ has been developed, under a DTI SMART award. The company has since won further awards, including a $1.2m grant over three years from the University of Nevada Las Vegas Research Foundation.