Clhynn reinvents the fuel cell to produce “truly” green energy

In 2022, in the mobility sector, only 400 light fuel cell vehicles and around thirty buses are circulating in France, according to the leading association France Hydrogène. The goal for 2030 is to reach around 300,000 light vehicles and 5,000 heavy vehicles. If public authorities want to equip themselves with the means to achieve their ambitions, there is still a long way to go. Because today, several constraints are holding back the development of this sector. Yet enough to inspire entrepreneurs like startup Clhynn to rise above them.

First problem, hydrogen is today produced 95% from fossil fuels in France (gas, coal, hydrocarbons). Hydrogen production is thus responsible for the emission of 11.5 million tonnes of CO2 in France, or about 3% of national emissions.

So, the lack of infrastructure slows down usage. Thus, in 2021, the planet had 685 hydrogen filling stations, covering 33 countries, which are in service, according to a survey carried out by H2stations.org. Europe had 228 hydrogen stations at the end of 2021, 101 of them in Germany, 41 in France, 19 in the UK, 12 in Switzerland and 11 in the Netherlands. And the third hurdle is the use of platinum in the electrolysis that makes the battery work, which is as rare and expensive as it is not very durable and critical to questions of sovereignty. In fact, for now, platinum is the only resource used to catalyze the reaction at the fuel cell terminals to generate electricity. However, platinum is found in small quantities in the world, mainly extracted from mines in South Africa and Russia.

A battery that supplies its own hydrogen

Is the fuel cell the miracle solution for these brakes? Discovered in 1839 by the German Christian Schönbein, later implemented in the 1930s by Francis T. Bacon, the fuel cell already powered the Apollo space missions. But this very expensive technology was sidelined for several decades, until environmental concerns brought it back to the fore as a low-impact solution. The fuel cell is an energy generator. In other words, it converts fuel into energy. The most common is the hydrogen fuel cell, using hydrogen and oxygen as fuels to generate electricity. It can be used in various sectors: medical, industrial, transport, aeronautics, etc.

In this state-led leadership race to produce carbon-free hydrogen, France does not hide its desire to reach the podium through its France Relance 2030 plan, which allocates almost 9 billion euros to the hydrogen sector over ten years. A political will motivated Jean Patrick Corso, founder and founder of Clhynne, after having worked for almost 15 years at Areva. To raise the young shoot in Besançon (Doubs), he joined the work of professor Bernard Gauthier Manuel. Initially developed to respond to a medical device, with three registered patents, this fuel cell is now aimed at the mobility market.

Professor Bernard Gauthier Manuel has developed a new type of autonomous fuel cell🇧🇷 “Our technology supplies its own carbon-free hydrogen and therefore does not need infrastructure to recharge. », explains Jean-Patrick Corso. In other words, vehicles using this fuel cell will not need a hydrogen station to refuel.

The device makes it possible to supply hydrogen during the operation of the fuel cell. “That is, hydrogen is not previously stored in gaseous form in a pressurized tank like today’s fuel cells, but generated when we need it, by a chemical reaction between the water rejected by the cell and our active substance “says the entrepreneur. Hence the production of “truly” green energy. Another great innovation: the catalyst in this fuel cell is nickel and not platinum. A resource 1,000 times cheaper, 10,000 times more durable and much more widespread in Europe and the world. Hence the production of greener energy in many respects.

Mobility: strong development potential

The startup Clhynn was officially created in March 2022. Called Deeptech by BPI, the technology it has been developing is in the POC, “proof of concept” phase. 🇧🇷 At the moment, we have obtained a mini-pile with a surface area of ​​about one cm2, we need to develop it to reach a surface of around 500 cm2 and be able to “stack”, (Editor’s note: operation that consists of superimposing several layers like a millefeuille)”, indicates Jean-Patrick Corso🇧🇷 “Which will allow us to access the needs of the great powers for the mobility market”, he continues.

Chynn wants to recruit between 20 and 30 people over the next three years to commercialize its technology by 2025, internationally.

Because the road is still long. In 2020, according to the Hydrogen Council, “Hydrogen Council” – a global organization led by several leading companies in the field of energy, transport, industry and investment to develop the hydrogen economy – only 16,000 fuel cell vehicles were circulating in the world . The forecast for 2030 is 13 million.