Meet Battolyser Systems: The Company that Created their own Technology towards Sustainable Energy
We sat down with Mattijs Slee for an insightful interview regarding clean energy, and his company “Battolyser Systems”, that strives to improve society through sustainably sourced hydrogen.
The Battolyser Technology: From Concept to Reality
The Battolyser Technology was founded at Delft University of Technology around 2013 - 2014, by Professor Dr. Fokko Mulder, who still is a professor at the Advanced Material Science Department of Delft's University of Technology, and studies energy storage and conversion technologies.
At that time, he was trying to improve a nickel-iron battery chemistry that has a special feature - it produces hydrogen and oxygen whilst being charged, which is a well-known phenomenon of nickel-iron batteries. He was trying to suppress that with different chemistries. However, when doing so, he realized that the actual production of hydrogen and oxygen could not be seen as a waste, but actually a very valuable product. Therefore, he has developed a technology to not only use the nickel-iron battery for energy storage like a normal battery, but also to produce hydrogen and oxygen. Now this dual function of a nickel iron chemistry is the Battolyser concept and technology.
In 2017 extensive experimental testing was done that was published. After that, it was ready to be industrialized, and later on commercialized. So in 2018, Battolyser B.V. was incorporated to scale-up and industrialized the technology.
In 2020, Koolen Industries recapitalized the company started a search a CEO (also the first employee) to build a team – which was Mattijs. Since then, the company has been growing and commercializing the technology.
The Hydrogen Market: About Green and Blue Hydrogen
When the Battolyser technology was getting started in 2014, the hydrogen market was not developed yet. Nowadays, we see a lot of news articles and announcements around hydrogen and clean hydrogen. But still, there is very little actually achieved. Things like the Corona pandemic (which led to the Recovery Resilience Fund), but also the war in Ukraine, have put an enormous pressure on energy prices, have all accelerated the rollout and the need for clean hydrogen, in Europe green hydrogen in particular.
While blue hydrogen is made from natural gas, which you convert to hydrogen and then sequester the CO2; green hydrogen is produced from green electricity that is used to“split” water into hydrogen and oxygen. Due to recent developments in the energy sector, Europe is going with the green hydrogen route (the water electrolysis route) which is where the Battolyser technology is of service.
The Company’s Purpose
The purpose behind the company, as Mattijs describes, is to try to make the biggest possible positive impact on the energy transition. That is something that is not only important for them as a purpose-driven company, but they see this as a long term, shared goal, of companies helping society altogether.
What Makes this Business Unique?
Today, there is no other technology that integrates a battery and electrolyser. Technology wise, that is absolutely unique. In the Netherlands, there are no other electrolyser company like Battolyser Systems with ten years of experience, developing their own bespoke technology.
“We advocate that the Netherlands should see energy transition not as a cost, but really as a way to build a new industry, similar to the development of the offshore industry during the Deltaworks.” , says Mattijs.
Therefore, by developing a Battolyser production capacity in the Netherlands, there is a chance of building a better, larger supply chain in the country and not only address our own energy transition needs, but actually create an export industry to help other countries overcome their energy transition as well.
The Benefits of Being Situated in Rotterdam-The Hague Metropolitan Area
Mattijs believes Rotterdam is the absolute epicenter of hydrogen in the world today. That is because Europe is the frontrunner in hydrogen as a continent. Within Europe, Germany is the largest hydrogen consumer, therefore the most industrialized market in this field. The top second largest hydrogen consumer is the Netherlands. Most of the hydrogen or most of the energy that comes, is imported to Germany through the port of Rotterdam. So it's fair to say that Rotterdam is actually the hydrogen capital of the world today. In addition, Battolyser Systems are very close to Delft University of Technology, in terms of location, so that helps significantly.
Advice to Other Entrepreneurs in the Field
Mattijs believes it’s important for entrepreneurs to help each other with navigating their issues around talent acquisition, fundraising, company building and overall support, especially entrepreneurs within the same field. This ecosystem benefits everybody in terms of networking and having a possibility of testing their products with real customers that understand the concept and technology behind it.
In order to successfully acquire talent in the company, there is a need of building the right company culture, making it a very exciting place to work and treating those employees as entrepreneurs as well.