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Park People: Augusto Bartolome, CEO at Electrogenos

Published on 29 May 2024

In this month’s Park People, the team speaks to Electrogenos’s CEO and Co-Founder, Augusto Bartolome. Read on to find out what inspired his passion for green tech and learn more about the company’s latest discoveries.

Hi Augusto, tell us about Electrogenos in your own words…

98% of the £145 billion hydrogen industry is dependent on non-renewable sources to power catalysts, which split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. At Electrogenos, we’re on a mission to disrupt that process, by decoupling CO2 emissions from the production of hydrogen.

Founded in 2022, we specialise in creating the next generation of alkaline electrolysers, which can produce green hydrogen on an industrial scale, for less. We’ve been in our Milton Park R&D facility for six months now, and are on track to develop these stacks and preparatory catalysts on a much larger scale.

Is there a particular development that Electrogenos is currently working on that you can tell us about?

In the early days, we were creating small electrolyser stacks which are basically a battery of positive and negatively charged electrodes. You flow water and electricity through them, which breaks down the water to produce hydrogen. The gas produced can then be used as a clean fuel which doesn’t produce CO2.

Our new Milton Park facility enables us to create these new testing rigs and stacks on an industrial scale. As a result, we’re currently delivering a 20-kilowatt demonstrator, but we hope to push that to 5-megawatts in the coming years. Watch this space!

What inspired you to pursue a career in green tech?

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always thought of myself as an inventor. I think this drive to invent was inspired by watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a youngster!

From there, I became an electrochemist after studying Materials Science at the University of Manchester, where I specialised in Graphene and Nanotechnology. As a Materials Scientist, I helped to develop coatings for heat transfers, similar to gas bubbles separating from the heating element in kettles.

I was awarded a research fellowship from the Royal Commission of 1851 to do a PhD at UCL, which opened my eyes to the world of hydrogen and electrocatalysts. I saw a big difference between academia and industry and felt I could bridge that gap by creating more durable catalysts.

That’s when I got an idea for a new catalyst which could produce green hydrogen and Electrogenos was born. Given his knowledge of investment and business, I put in a quick call to Alfredo, my best friend from school. We went into partnership with one another and as they say, the rest is history.

What does your role as CEO involve day-to-day?

As with most start-ups, my role is very varied. I try to be hands-on and involved in the lab wherever I can – the company is my baby after all! Despite that, I spend most of my time speaking with investors and sharing our advances in technology, finding new ways to bring our green hydrogen catalysts into operation.

My role is trying to bridge different sides of the business; speaking to our engineers and chemists and to our operations team and my Co-Founder, taking that message and translating it to investors and the wider community. Once you’ve cracked that problem, you’ve got a really interesting company on your hands…

What’s the most exciting part of your role?

For me, the ‘eureka moment’ is the best feeling, because it makes you believe anything is possible. It’s incredibly rewarding bringing the best minds together to find a solution to a problem, one which isn’t confined to a lab, but could be commercialised to make a tangible difference in the real world.

There are certainly ups and downs in the role, but whenever I have a bad day, I always try and cast my mind back to my dream as a kid and think: ‘I actually run a lab’. It helps to give me a sense of perspective and lifts my mood, although I don’t own a flying car just yet!

What’s next for you and the team?

We’re in the process of closing our financing round, which will enable us to open our new manufacturing facility. That’ll take us from producing small electrolysers which can produce just a few kilowatts, to five megawatt stacks, which will allow us to produce green hydrogen at scale.

We’ve been growing quickly and sometimes it feels like we’re running faster than our legs can keep up, but it’s an exciting feeling to work towards the project of making green hydrogen cheaper. We’ve reached the level now where we’re validating our tech both internally and externally, and we’re looking to scale into manufacturing.

Finally, why did Electrogenos choose Milton Park?

After looking at science parks, we found the available laboratory space in Oxfordshire to be more biology-focused. After exploring for a while, we decided that it would be best to build a boutique facility of our own, which is why we set our sights on Milton Park.

We were also attracted to the strength of the Park’s green tech cluster because we want to work alongside lots of like-minded companies that have the same goal.

Milton Park is full of green startups looking to improve their environment, such as Nium, which is working to create green ammonia via their catalysts. We benefit from that wider ecosystem, which is why, once we moved to the Park, we were able to grow our team and make a start on industrial scaling.

We’ve found our home here because it offers something for everyone, whether that’s the connectivity, the gym facilities, or the green open spaces.

We like escaping from the office at lunchtime to visit the Milton Feast food trucks, but we tend to use the Bee House facility the most thanks to its flexible co-working spaces and The Hive Café. Whenever we have anyone visiting from outside, we’ll have an icebreaker introduction and a coffee there before taking them to show off our new facility.

Find out more about Electrogenos

Company Spotlight: Electrogenos

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