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Sun Catalytix Signs $4M ARPA-E Contract and Forms Scientific Advisory Board; Affordable Catalysts for Water Splitting

Sun Catalytix Corporation, a company that is developing catalysts that use intermittent renewable energy, including solar and wind energy, to split water (H2O) into storable hydrogen and oxygen—a process that mimics photosynthesis—has signed a contract for more than $4 million in federal funding from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). (Earlier post.)

The ability to convert electrical energy into hydrogen reducing equivalents is fundamental to an enormous number of processes. To date, most approaches to this vital task have shown poor efficiencies or relied on expensive, rare and easily-poisoned catalysts. Sun Catalytix work, based on robust, self-healing, earth-abundant catalysts, will revolutionize the transformation and transportation of energy, and we are delighted to support this novel and transformative technology.

— Dr. Eric Toone, ARPA-E program director

Sun Catalytix has formed a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) which will guide the company on technology development. The SAB is chaired by John Deutch, Institute Professor at MIT, whose government experience includes service as Director of Energy Research and Undersecretary of the Department of Energy, and Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology. In addition to Deutch, the SAB includes: MIT Chemistry Professor Daniel Nocera (Sun Catalytix founder); Harvard University Professor George Whitesides; Washington University Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry Mark Wrighton; MIT Chemical Engineering Professor Kenneth Smith; and University of Utah Distinguished Professor Henry White.

The ARPA-E program is enormously important because it provides promising startups with the financial support they need to move high-risk, high-payoff innovations from the laboratory to practical application. With technology based on patents developed right here at MIT by Daniel Nocera, Sun Catalytix now has the support it needs to bring breakthrough energy storage technologies to market more quickly.

—John Deutch

Sun Catalytix has also recruited Scott Wilshire, former president of Thar Geothermal, as Chief Operating Officer and Mark Barnett, formerly of Foley Hoag LLP, as VP Business Development and General Counsel. Wilshire and Barnett will provide senior leadership for the company and help guide Sun Catalytix through the successful execution of its new ARPA-E contract.

Prior to joining Sun Catalytix and leading Thar Geothermal, Scott Wilshire served as COO of HydroGen, a Pittsburgh-based fuel cell developer, and as Director of Marketing Engagement for Plug Power, an Albany-based fuel cell developer. Wilshire has more than 25 years of experience in the energy industry with 10 years in the alternative energy sector and 15 years in the Naval Reactors program with GE and Lockheed Martin. He received a Master of Business Administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and completed the US Navy Nuclear Power Engineering School.

Mark Barnett co-founded and co-chaired the Energy Technology & Renewables (ETR) practice at Foley Hoag before joining Sun Catalytix, helping to build the ETR practice into one of the leading practices of its kind in the region. A graduate of Yale Law School, Mark has spent more than 15 years working in the energy and environmental technology sector in various capacities. Immediately prior to Foley Hoag, Mark served as Counsel to the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund.



Business people don't like investing in R&D that has risk with low payback in long time frames. But this kind of basic research is what is needed to advance. Businesses will pick up on this research when it can be taken to market and make profits. In that way they are leveraging off the public dollar much the same way that they do with roads, bridges and ports.

Henry Leland

What a powerhouse of talent. These folks should go public with this technology ASAP. There are legions of investors out here looking for just such a promising long shot as this.

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