Boson Energy maximises the Hydrogen potential from non-recyclable waste and biomass. Thus, they create local, sustainable, and profitable ecosystems where sustainable hydrogen supplies power and green molecules.
In 2022, Tech Tour had a programme focused on Hydrogen for the first time. We were very excited as it has been a dream of ours. We are proud to present Boson Energy - a startup that passed the scrutiny of our Selection panel of investors and pitched their solution. You can meet more startups challenging the status quo at our upcoming events.
In short, Boson Energy maximises the Hydrogen potential from non-recyclable waste and biomass. Thus, they create local, sustainable, and profitable ecosystems where sustainable hydrogen supplies power and green molecules.
We spoke with Heike Zatterstrom, CCO, who told us more about Boson Energy.
Q: Introduce yourself and tell us more about your current position and company.
A: My name is Heike Zatterstrom, and I am the Chief Communications Officer of Boson Energy. I grew up with entrepreneurship, on an eco-labelled goat farm, which gave me a lot of respect for nature and the environment. Since my studies, I have always worked in analysis, strategy and communication that have had something to do with tech, in one way or another. Boson Energy is a ‘deep cleantech’ company changing how we look at waste and ending the concept of ‘non-recyclable’ waste. We do that by applying technology and system solution. My role is to bring our technology and its impact 'to life' for all stakeholders.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: I spend all my energy during the day, haha, and I don't allow myself to stress about all the pictures of garbage from everywhere. What helps me is knowing that Boson Energy is one of the few companies globally that is progressing the gasification technology and introducing a thermochemical approach to waste treatment.
The challenge of making what we do understandable for most people is always on my mind. I am always thinking about better answers to questions like "That sounds too good to be true?" and "But why is this not done all over the place already?".
Why did we not drive electric cars en masse as late as in the 90ies? Even though they have been around for over 100 years? Because you must put technologies in a working system and the market has to be ready.
Q: Tell us about your product. What problem is it solving, and what makes your solution unique?
A: Gasification allows the sustainable transformation of otherwise non-recyclable waste into two molecules - Hydrogen and CO2. It means 24/7 sustainable production of Hydrogen at a lower price than diesel (per km). The Hydrogen can be used as it is and for Hydrogen-powered fast charging or grid support. It doesn't matter to us if the fuel cell sits in the vehicle or a charging station. The CO2, which is 60%-80% green when treating normal waste, can replace fossil CO2 in the food and beverages industry, cooling applications and greenhouse yield boosting. It can also be recombined with Hydrogen to produce vital chemicals like green ammonia/urea for fertiliser or green methanol for shipping, methanol-powered grid effect reserve, or circular virgin plastics. If you go for full sector coupling in an integrated system, the vitrified solids can be made into cell glass construction material to replace fossil-heavy concrete, and the rest heat can be fed to a greenhouse together with green CO2. You can't get more circular than that. If you consider the carbon emissions avoided compared to landfill and incineration, you have a carbon-negative Hydrogen. No electrolyser Hydrogen is carbon-negative over the lifecycle – or even neutral.
Q: How did the journey of Boson start? Where is it now on the road to achieving its ambitions?
A: Boson Energy's co-founder Professor Wlodzimierz Blasiak started researching gasification to extract Hydrogen and green CO2 from local biomass and waste already in the 80s. Our founder and CEO, Jan Grimbrandt, had been part of building and selling two cleantech companies to Siemens and Nalco, respectively. They started Boson Energy in 2008 to realise that vision. Nobody was interested in Hydrogen and green CO2 back then, so they pivoted to distributed power and heat production from the Hydrogen-rich syngas. Since 2019, we are back to molecules though, where we want to be.
Q: Can you share a story of a client using your product/service?
A: We are currently developing the first commercial projects. One is a Swedish harbour that wants to decarbonise but cannot get the power they need from the grid or renewables. They are in a situation where more and more vehicles in transit need fast charging, so their power consumption is going up. Turning towards waste as a feedstock, we can deliver the 20 GWh of flexible Hydrogen-powered fast charging and power for port operations they need. We will also produce 40-50k tons of green methanol, produce cell glass construction from the inert material in the waste, and deploy rest heat and CO2 to adjacent vertical farming. All without taking a single kWh of power from the grid.
Q: What is your company's biggest achievement to date?
A: I would say that it is a combination of achievements, where none is possible without the others. They include proving that the core technology can meet the design objectives, attracting the global technology partners to build a standardised system solution that can scale, and building a solid business case and project pipeline with very ambitious project partners.
Q: What was the tipping point that made you a doer and impacted your vision?
A: Looking at our team, I only see doers. We were all sold on this after seeing the vision and potential in Boson's distributed approach, and that it was driven by science and commercial viability – and just went to work to make it happen.
Q: How do you see your company making a difference in the future?
A: We still have 100 million tons of waste going to landfill and 100 million tons to incineration in Europe alone. That is 20 million tons of Hydrogen potential. Globally, 2 billion tons of solid municipal waste is dumped and burnt, which is 200 million tons of Hydrogen potential. That is where we will make a difference. The fact is that there is always waste where energy is needed, and we need to take better care of that waste.
The fact that we can beat diesel on price. That it doesn’t matter whether the fuel cell sits in the car, or a charging station, also means that we barely need any new supporting infrastructure to make this a reality. The global markets of ammonia, urea and methanol are also already there, and badly need decarbonising. Bringing that autonomy, clean air, resilience and energy security from waste can completely eliminate the concept of waste and turn waste into a strategic asset.
Q: How is the current situation impacting your business? What is your Boson's immediate response?
A: We are literally in the business of creating significant autonomy, energy security, food security, and material circularity from a local resource that everyone has in their backyards. Our immediate response is to try to meet all the interest we receive and get to market faster while keeping in mind that going too fast will not serve anyone. That mistake has been made before, especially in gasification.
Q: How have you benefitted from the Tech Tour events and activities? What do you consider is the best asset of the Tech Tour?
Q: Pitching challenges you to sharpen and focus your message, and I found the quality of the experts and judges to be high. All the questions and conversations in the sessions and during the events have brought us forward. Getting an award was also great, and now we "just" must prove that we were worthy, by also building and starting up commercial plants...
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