With the mission of implementing a decarbonised future, our Startup of the Week EH Group Engineering AG is working on Hydrogen Fuel Cells. A Fuel Cell is a device that converts the chemical energy of a fuel (usually hydrogen) into electricity with an electrochemical reaction. We wanted to know more, so we interviewed their Co-Founder, Christopher Brandon for our weekly interview series.
Hello Christopher! Thank you for doing this interview with us today. Let’s dive right in: How would you describe EH Group Engineering’s mission in one sentence?
Compact, low-cost fuel cells for a decarbonised future.
You do that with your own fuel cell technology, what are the characteristics of your fuel cells?
EH Group’s uniquely redesigned fuel cells offer a market leading power density of 1.5-2 times that of leading competitors. In addition, our innovative production and assembly process reduces their cost significantly at scale. Finally, our fuel cell technology coperates with minimal effects of gravity and in any orientation. This is making it a great candidate in the automotive, maritime and aviation sectors as a power generator.
You already mentioned the leading power density, as something that makes your solution different from your competitors. Is there anything else that makes your product stand out from the rest?
We offer two things, the Fuel Cell Stack (FC Stack) and the Fuel Cell System (FC System). The first one, has greater power density characteristics. It is also able to operate with minimal effects of gravity and in any orientation. This allows it to work more effectively in mobile applications and opens up the avenue for aviation related applications.
Our innovatively designed FC stack means that we are consequently able to eliminate and/or simplify some of the auxiliary components of a complete fuel cell system. This leads to higher overall system efficiencies, simplified system architecture with fewer overall components and lower costs.
Also there is a great cost advantage: The marketplace for fuel cells is currently around 1,000-1,200 EUR/kW. Our first-gen production implementation should see us drop to below 200 EUR/kW, dropping to below 100 EUR/kW at larger volumes.
Our FC stack has inherent design scalability which allows it to be deployed from small 1kW applications, through to 100kW mobile applications and up to multi MW microgrids using the same underlying technology platform.
How did you build a successful business model out of it?
Our revenue model is primarily focusing on manufacture and direct sales. In addition to that, we focus on joint development projects where our FCs are integrated into customer products. Our pricing model is focusing on getting costs as low as possible. This is to accelerate the widespread deployment of FC technology, emphasise its operational benefits and safety, so as to scale up rapidly.
When speaking about your technology, you talked about the automotive, maritime, and aviation sectors as a good fit for your FC’s. Could you elaborate on your target groups and the situation in your market?
In the face of fast-approaching decarbonisation targets, in many cases (such as heavy vehicles) there is no practical alternative technological solution. We believe we can significantly influence the market by achieving significant cost reductions. And hence a more rapid industrialisation of the technology.
Our product offering can be used in stationary applications such as commercial and residential buildings, data centres, telecom towers, hospitals, etc.
Furthermore, due to its compactness, our technology will be a front-running candidate for commercial mobile/automotive applications (buses, trucks, vans, forklifts, trains, ferries, aviation etc.) where weight and volume reduction are two key criteria. The key is to focus on applications which require range, extensive use and payload and are better suited to FC technology.
The market is accelerating rapidly, given the increased emphasis on hydrogen in the EU’s Green Deal. Deployments should grow from 1GW in 2019 to over 3GW in 2021.
Where do you stand at the moment?
We are currently at TRL6-7, and have deployed our fuel cell solution across a variety of pilot projects in both stationary and mobile applications. For example in microgrid projects, range-extender for electric vehicles, etc. We currently have three stack platforms from 1-100kW, with a larger one soon launching soon.
Christopher, thank you so much for this fascinating interview. We wish EH Group Engineering a successful 2021!
If you want to know more about EH Group Engineering AG, check out their profile in our B2B Network.