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Circular energy solutions stand out in Technology Transfer Competition: Space for Energy

12 december 2023

In September, the ESA Technology Broker NL — jointly operated by SBIC Noordwijk and NL Space Campus — launched Space for Energy. The technology transfer contest sparked ideas from companies and entrepreneurs in the Netherlands on how to apply space technology for terrestrial energy challenges. From a total fifteen submissions, three standout ideas emerged victorious. The winners were announced on 30 November during a festive edition of the NL Space Campus Network & Drinks.

Technology Transfer from Space to Energy

After a successful first edition last year, it was time for another space technology transfer competition in 2023. The latest one challenged space entrepreneurs and energy experts to find new synergies between space and energy. The energy sector is undergoing a major transformation, providing space-based companies with new commercial opportunities.

“The first applications that come to mind are in Earth observation and satellite navigation or telecommunication. As technology brokers, we are looking beyond those fields to also encourage technology transfers,” explains Corneel Bogaert, project manager for the ESA Technology Broker programme in the Netherlands. “In light of the new competition, we decided to focus on the energy market. Few issues are as relevant as that of energy in today’s context. There is high potential in utilising the technology developed for space where reliability, resilience and efficiency are of the essence.”

Corneel Bogaert announcing the winners during the NL Space Campus Network & Drinks

Winning Ideas

1st Prize: Welcome to The New Iron Age – The Green Energy Revolution with Iron Powder

Metalot Future Energy Lab B.V. leverages iron powder as a circular energy storage solution, as it offers a smokeless, carbon-free energy source that can be regenerated using green hydrogen. The technology originates from space technology, where metal powders are used as fuel for space missions, habitable stations, and deep space mining, where traditional fossil fuels are not viable. By introducing iron powder as a circular energy storage medium on Earth, several challenges can be addressed related to renewable energy supply and grid congestion. The initiative has the potential to support a more sustainable and efficient energy transition, especially for local communities and industries facing decarbonisation and grid congestion challenges.

2nd Prize: AluAirZero Lightweight Mobile Energy – Swap, don’t Charge!

ZemQuest B.V. aims to bring emission-free and sustainable electrification for industrial mobility and long-range electrical aviation with aluminium-oxygen batteries developed for space applications. The technology is based on a NASA patent and offers five times higher energy density than lithium-ion, high levels of safety and near-zero downtime. Batteries do not have to be charged but can be quickly swapped and reactivated at ZemQuest facilities. Furthermore, synergies with the ESA Space Power Laboratory will be explored. In a later stage, asset health tracking using GNSS and SatCom are expected to be integrated to ensure a seamless logistic solution.

3rd Prize: Hydrogen Cool Gas Generators as an Emergency Power Supply

The cool gas generator technology is an innovative and space-proven way to store gasses. The technology, originally developed by TNO, was the basis of last year’s winning idea from HDES Service & Engineering B.V. to develop oxygen supply kits for general practitioners. This year, the technology reappears with a new hydrogen application developed by Solidflow B.V. Because hydrogen storage in cool gas generators is not pressurised and does not need any maintenance, it can be used as a reliable long-term emergency power supply. The idea is to harness the technology for emergency power supplies, for example, for hospitals or emergency services during natural disasters. Mobile applications like cars, boats and even aircraft are also possible as the storage density is very high and, therefore, lightweight.

Next Steps

Corneel concludes: “The extensive competition campaign, kindly supported by Topsectors Energy and High-Tech was reflected in the quantity and quality of the submitted proposals. We would like to thank everyone involved, especially our esteemed jury of experts. We also encourage all the submitting entities to progress their idea and we look forward to supporting them in making a successful transfer.”

Are you excited about joining a future competition, want to make use of the networks of the brokers and/or want to know more about the winning projects? Reach out to us, join us at the monthly Network & Drinks every last Thursday of the month at SBIC Noordwijk, and stay updated through our newsletters.

Are you excited about joining a future competition, want to make use of the networks of the brokers and/or want to know more about the winning projects? Reach out to us, and stay updated through our newsletters.

Source: Circular energy solutions stand out in Technology Transfer Competition: Space for Energy


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