Virent Energy Systems, a Madison, Wisconsin-based nanotech startup developing a catalytic process to derive hydrogen fuel from biomass, has received an additional $550,000 in funding.
The startup, spun off from UW-Madison in 2002, will receive up to $250,000 in funding through agreements with the Center for Technology Transfer Inc., while the state Department of Commerce will provide a $300,000 Technology Development Fund loan.
Virents Aqueous Phase Reforming (APR) uses a nickel-based catalyst to generate hydrogen-rich fuel gas or hydrocarbon fuel gas from sugars or sugar alcohols derviced, in turn, from biomass. The founders discovered the process at UW-Madison in 2001.
The significance is in the cost of the process. Platinum can be a catalyst for a similar hydrogen process, but platinum is pricey and often in short supply. The nickel-based alloy opens the door for major cost reductions in hydrogen generation. For a good, quick overview of the research and process, look here.