Queen’s spin-out gets funding for green hydrogen and e-fuel projects

8 Jun 2022

From left: Siya Yadav, Michael Sloan, Tom Morris, Calvin Thompson, Andrew Pedlow, Matthew Boyd and Andrew Shannon. Image: Brian Thompson Photography

Catagen said the funding awards are a ‘potential gamechanger’ and could help Northern Ireland create a new green industry.

Belfast-based Catagen has received four funding awards to develop new net zero technologies in green hydrogen and e-fuel production, to help decarbonise difficult sectors such as transport and industry.

The company announced two new funding awards from the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of the Red Diesel Replacement Competition.

This follows two separate funding awards received by Catagen last month through BEIS’s Net Zero Innovation Portfolio Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply 2 Competition.

A spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast, Catagen sells patented emissions testing services to global automotive manufacturers. The BEIS funding will enable the company to significantly scale in Belfast while it develops its new technology.

The company doubled its workforce in the past year to a team of 35 and hopes to double again over the next year.

The Red Diesel funding from BEIS aims to help industry move away from using the fossil fuel commonly used for off-road vehicles and machinery, specifically in the quarrying, mining and construction sectors.

One of the Catagen projects receiving this funding is investigating the feasibility of e-fuel as a replacement for red diesel. The other project will look at ways to improve current methods of delivering high pressure hydrogen for storage, transportation and dispensing at fuelling stations.

“E-fuels are needed to provide an alternative solution to electrification for sectors such as aviation, marine, heavy-duty diesel and heating systems that use liquid fuels,” said Catagen co-founder and CTO Prof Roy Douglas.

He said that a “blended solution of technologies” is needed to meet net zero emissions targets by 2050.

“Some of our existing business partners have already expressed interest in piloting Catagen’s e-fuel as it can be used in a conventional internal combustion engine and utilises existing infrastructure,” he added.

Hydrogen production

The two funding awards Catagen received last month are supporting projects in the production of hydrogen fuel.

One aims to combine Catagen’s recirculating gas reactor technology to create a production machine for high-efficiency green hydrogen production. The process uses water as the net feedstock and renewable electricity, enabling zero-carbon hydrogen production.

The other project aims to create a low-cost production method of liquid hydrogen fuel using recirculating gas reactor technology.

Catagen described the funding awards as a “potential gamechanger” for both the company and Northern Ireland. In the case of the latter, it could help create a new green industry in the production of green hydrogen and e-fuels, which could lead to a massive export opportunity for the country.

In April, Clean Hydrogen Partnership director Bart Biebuyck spoke to SiliconRepublic.com about the opportunity for Ireland to become a “hydrogen valley” in the EU and the fuel’s potential when it comes to energy storage to “balance the grid”.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic