Gonzalo Abellán, distinguished researcher of the Institute of Molecular Science (ICMol), and investor Iker Marcaide, executive chairman of Zubi Group, have partnered to found Matteco, a spin-off of the University of Valencia (UV), the result of a decade of work by a team of multidisciplinary researchers, which aims to revolutionise the global production of green hydrogen with nanotechnology and accelerate the energy transition towards a more sustainable economy through a pioneering technology that focuses on alkaline electrolysis (AWE) and the novel anion exchange membrane electrolysis (AEM).
The new research and development company for advanced materials for decarbonisation has launched its first innovation, made public during the European Hydrogen Week in Brussels: new generation catalysts and electrodes, key elements for the production of green hydrogen through the process of water electrolysis. Iker Marcaide takes on the CEO role at Matteco. Gonzalo Abellán, principal investigator and leader of ICMol's 2D-Chem materials research group, is co-inventor of the patent and serves as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the new company.
Next generation materials
Green hydrogen has become a critical energy vector for eliminating carbon emissions from large industries such as steel and chemicals, or from the mobility and long-haul transportation sectors. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that hydrogen could contribute up to 20% of the total global emissions reductions needed to achieve the so-called ‘net zero’ scenario by 2050.
The company's next-generation materials are designed to significantly improve the efficiency of electrolyzers -the devices that produce hydrogen- by reducing energy consumption by up to 30 %, and increasing production by operating at higher current densities and with longer lifetimes, helping to accelerate the transition to this clean and versatile energy.
Such breakthrough capabilities will be key to achieving the ambitious goal of installing electrolysis capacity in an economically viable manner. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 550 gigawatts (GW) will be needed by 2030 to meet the net-zero scenario, while the global installed capacity today is only 0.7 GW.
Investment and facilities in Valencia, Spain
To conduct its industrial operations, which the company has until now developed at the UV Science Park, Matteco has acquired a 10,000 m2 site in Paterna, Valencia (Spain). The new factory, dedicated to producing catalyst powder and electrodes with an initial installed capacity of 1 GW, will open its doors in the second quarter of 2024.
The company, which will invest 15 million euros through 2025, already has a team of 25 and plans to reach 100 employees in the next two years.
Matteco will also contribute to the development of public-private cooperation projects that promote joint research and technological progress in the hydrogen sector and the production of clean energy.
In the same direction, Zubi Group is one of the anchor members of Cleantech for Iberia, the European alliance promoted by Cleantech Group and Breakthrough Energy - Bill Gates' initiative to decarbonize the planet - to consolidate the Iberian Peninsula as Europe’s cleantech industrial hub, which was presented last week in Lisbon during Web Summit.
Iker Marcaide, Co-founder and CEO of Matteco and Executive Chairman of Zubi Group adds: “Big challenges like climate change are what we work on at Zubi. Hydrogen is a great opportunity to help provide a solution for sectors and applications that are difficult to decarbonize and where electrification does not provide a solution. Matteco aims to be a key player in the value chain, helping to reduce the cost and accelerate the adoption of hydrogen.”
“We already have customers in Europe and Asia and our goal is to have our technology quickly incorporated by the main international electrolyzer manufacturers and thus contribute to hydrogen production projects in every corner of the planet.”
Gonzalo Abellán, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Matteco, comments:
“Our technology is the result of years of research in which we have been able to synthesize and scale up a catalyst that, without having PGMs like iridium or platinum, outperforms them. It is also a very flexible technology that allows us to produce large electrodes. We are focusing on solutions for high current densities with low energy consumption for the electrolysis process”.