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Hyundai makes Series B investment in hydrogen and fuel cell catalyst maker Pajarito Powder

US-based startup Pajarito Powder has received a Series-B investment from Hyundai Motor Company. The investment is intended to allow Hyundai Motor to expand its portfolio in the value chain of the hydrogen industry and strengthen the establishment of the hydrogen ecosystem.

Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Pajarito Powder develops and commercializes advanced electrocatalysts for fuel cells and electrolyzers. Pajarito Powder manufactures a range of catalyst products using its own intellectual property as well as intellectual property licensed from the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) in Québec, Canada.

Pajarito Powder manufacturers catalysts for use with proton-exchange membranes (PEM) and alkaline fuel cells and electrolyzers; it also manufactures a proprietary Precious-Metal-Free (PMF) catalyst for fuel cells. Pajarito Powder says that its materials more effectively use the platinum group metals (PGM) component of catalysts, resulting in higher performance, better stability and improved durability.

Manufactured with the proprietary VariPore process, Pajarito Powder PMF catalysts achieve unprecedented activity, stability, and reasonable durability under real-world operating conditions, all at material and production costs that are lower than platinum-based catalysts, according to the company.

Earlier this year, a team from Estonia, Canada, and Pajarito Powder reported on research on mesoporous iron-nitrogen co-doped carbon materials—Pajarito Powder’s VariPore-based Fe-N-C PGM-free catalyst—as a cathode catalyst for anion exchange membrane (AEM) fuel cells. The researchers found that the catalyst performed as well as platinum-based material. The open-access paper is published in the Journal of Power Sources Advances.

Pajarito Powder is a venture-backed startup funded by Hyundai Motor Company, Verge Fund, Omphalos Venture Partners and other private investors.


  • Jaana Lilloja, Marek Mooste, Elo Kibena-Põldsepp, Ave Sarapuu, Barr Zulevi, Arvo Kikas, Helle-Mai Piirsoo, Aile Tamm, Vambola Kisand, Steven Holdcroft, Alexey Serov, Kaido Tammeveski (2021) “Mesoporous iron-nitrogen co-doped carbon material as cathode catalyst for the anion exchange membrane fuel cell,” Journal of Power Sources Advances doi: 10.1016/j.powera.2021.100052.


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