Demcon to develop systems for the energy transition
The entire energy chain, from generation to storage and conversion
Technology developer and producer Demcon is working on the energy transition with the ambition to make a contribution to the enormous challenge that we all face. On the basis of its broad experience with system-based thinking and mechatronic product design, Demcon will develop solutions for efficient and renewable energy systems. Examples include electrolyzers for the production of hydrogen from (green) power and innovative battery technology. The new company Demcon Energy Systems works autonomously and, where this is worthwhile, together with partners.
Reducing CO2 emissions and, consequently, the release of fossil fuels is a technological and economic challenge. This transition is expected to take several decades and will take place via a rocky path. An important trend in the energy transition is the decentralization of energy generation and storage. For example, cooperatives are being created at the local and regional level, in which power generators and consumers aim to jointly make smart use of energy surpluses. Demcon has gained extensive experience in the high-tech industry with thinking in terms of systems and now wants to use this for the energy transition, explains Toon Hermans. Hermans served as Managing Director of the Demcon location in the Eindhoven region until the start of 2020 and has now returned as Managing Director of Demcon Energy Systems. ‘We regard the entire energy system as our playing field, from generation and storage to conversion and consumption. We can therefore develop efficient decentralized solutions that cover the entire energy chain. For this, we combine thinking in terms of systems with our broad mechatronic experience and multi-physics expertise, in order to thoroughly analyze energy processes. We want to understand exactly what is happening, and on that basis, to build optimal systems.’
In concrete terms, Demcon is working on areas including the hydrogen economy. Hydrogen is a clean energy carrier (when it ‘burns’, only water is released, apart from energy), which can be produced sustainably with wind or solar power. Applications lie in fuel cells, for example for electric cars, and in due course, possibly in the replacement of our natural gas. Demcon is working on developments including electrolyzers, which convert electricity into hydrogen. ‘We are now focusing on the heart of the electrolyzer, the stack, where the electrolysis reaction takes place.’
Storage is a major theme in the energy transition. Due to sharply growing demand for batteries, the prices of raw materials are rising and there is even a risk of shortages. Demcon Energy Systems will work on innovations in battery technology, Hermans reports. ‘We want to expand our chemical physics skills for this still further. For example, we are working of batteries based on lithium with a higher storage capacity than the existing ones. And we also see opportunities in innovative materials.’ Early this year, Demcon invested in Eurekite, a spin-off of the University of Twente. Eurekite has discovered a new flexible ceramic fiber material for a wide range of applications, from batteries and electronics to oil and gas filtration. Demcon will develop new production technologies for this. It works with other parties on advanced batteries for mobility applications.
Demcon Energy Systems works autonomously, building on the broad expertise of the Demcon group. ‘We specifically seek cooperation with partners,’ Hermans says in conclusion. ‘This includes organizations and businesses that each cover part of the energy chain, and companies that are specialized in serial production of components of energy systems. Together, we can develop innovations in the Netherlands and Europe and can launch these in the market as a contribution towards the energy transition.’