Two projects from the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ), a BIST centre, have been selected for the final round of the Ingenia Energy Challenge: Orchestra Scientific and CATSOL-AEM.
ICIQ’s first spin-off, Orchestra Scientific, and Lloret-Fillol group’s CATSOL-AEM project have been selected for the final round of the Ingenia Energy Challenge, which will be held in September 2020. In this first year, the challenge is open to projects outside Enagás, Spain’s leading natural gas transmission company and Technical Manager of the national gas system, in order to foster the innovative spirit within the company as well as the university, scientific, and start-up environments. The goal of the Ingenia Energy Challenge is to further the progress of a sustainable energetical landscape. Five challenges make up the initiative: sustainable mobility, biogas/biomethane, renewable hydrogen, energy efficiency, and digitalization for new models and technologies to transition to a low carbon economy.
Both ICIQ projects have a clear commitment to a sustainable future and address more than one challenge. For instance, Orchestra Scientific is testing a new material, a metal-organic framework, selective to CO₂ molecules, that allows them to separate from a mixture of gases.
“Orchestra’s membranes can be a great asset to reduce CO2 emissions and foster a circular economy. They also have direct applications in biomethane production, reducing its cost and promoting the use of this renewable source of energy,” explains Cristina Saénz de Pipaón, Orchestra Scientific’s CEO.
The Lloret-Fillols group’s project focuses on developing and commercializing catalytic solutions related to the development of anion exchange membrane technologies for sustainable production of hydrogen. Still in its initial stages, the project takes advantage of highly active materials that operate under mild conditions, thus promoting a new class of electrolyzers at a small scale.
“We are developing electrolyzers that you can plug into the electric socket at home which split water and produce hydrogen. It’s quite focused on domestic applications like homes or stores, so it can reach many people, just like cell phones,” explains Alberto Bucci, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Lloret-Fillol group who is leading the project.
The technology’s potential to improve energy efficiency, stability, and durability of the electrolyzers has encouraged the researchers to submit a patent application to the European Patent Office on April 15th, 2020.
“I’m excited about this project because it engages basic science to work on something with the potential to reach the market soon. The team is looking forward to working on this and making the technology a reality,” states Bucci.
In competition with over 115 projects, the two ICIQ proposals have successfully passed to the final round of the challenge organized by Enagás Emprende, Enagás’ Corporate Venturing. Now, the 11 finalists will work with the company for two months (from May to July) to co-create and develop the proposals that will compete in the final round.
“What I appreciate is that aside from the Enagás economical support to the winning project, they are also committed to accompanying the development through mentoring, training, input, etc.” states the postdoctoral researcher.
More information can be found on the ICIQ website.