The HydGene technique uses novel biocatalysts to convert the sugars derived from organic waste, including agricultural waste, into valuable products like hydrogen. The process takes place in HydGene-designed modular plants, enabling localized green hydrogen production in rural and remote areas, where the cost of transporting hydrogen can be high.
Backed by a $2 million investment from the CEFC via the CEFC Clean Energy Innovation Fund, HydGene's $6 million seed raise also attracted $2.5 million from lead investor Agronomics, a specialist UK investor. HydGene will draw on the additional capital to establish a pilot plant, expand its team and conduct further research.
The CEFC investment is managed by specialist climate-tech venture capital manager Virescent Ventures.
Spun out of research begun at Macquarie University, HydGene has engineered bacteria to produce an innovative biocatalyst, converting sugars derived from biomass to hydrogen gas. The highly efficient biocatalyst system can be scaled up or down to meet demand.
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said: “As we get closer to 2030 and 2050, the impetus to accelerate the commercial development of green hydrogen and bridge the commercial gap for early-stage green hydrogen technologies is becoming increasingly urgent. The global shift towards clean energy, and the opportunity for growth in the clean hydrogen sector is clear.
“The CEFC is pleased to be backing the exciting and innovative technology that HydGene is developing. This technology can be developed alongside electrolytic hydrogen to grow Australia’s green hydrogen industry as a critical factor in our net zero emissions economy of the future. Important policy initiatives like the Hydrogen Headstart program announced in the recent Federal Budget will also play a crucial role in developing Australia’s hydrogen energy sector as we transition to a low emissions economy.”
HydGene CEO and co-founder Dr. Louise Brown said: “We are grateful for the overwhelming support in this round from our lead investor, Agronomics, and are equally thrilled to have secured the backing of the CEFC as a strategic investor, bringing us one step closer to revolutionising the chemical manufacturing and energy industries.
“With our specialized biocatalyst, we can efficiently upcycle waste biomass sources to produce green molecules under favourable conditions. Our innovative technology not only paves the way for the growth and adoption of decentralized manufacturing hubs, but also plays a crucial role in the global transition to an affordable, green hydrogen economy.
"We remain confident in the ability of our new technology to accelerate the global drive towards a net-zero economy while also opening up market opportunities for green chemical manufacturing.”
Virescent Ventures partner Blair Pritchard added: “The potential demand for green hydrogen is huge, and not every place has abundant renewable energy or the land to site it. We need to be able to make green hydrogen in more geographies, with a wider range of inputs than just sun and wind. Organic waste streams are a perfect example.
“The HydGene technology is biomass agnostic, with a focus on resources that already exist, and which would otherwise be discarded or burned. The technology has the added benefit of stopping the practice of burning agricultural stubble, improving soil health,” Pritchard said.
“The flexibility of this new fuel source offers a potential decentralized solution to energy generation, fuel supply and waste management, producing hydrogen where and when it is needed.”