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  • Pjotr van Schothorst

Yellow-SiC: Renewable hydrogen via direct unassisted photocatalysis

Together with some friends, I made an investment in The Yellow SiC Group, a promising Berlin-based climate-tech start-up. They are developing a new technology capable of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen in a one-step process using only sunlight. Such direct photocatalysis, without external power, is enabled by a cubic crystal structure of ultra-high purity silicon carbide (3C SiC) serving as a catalyst. The silicon carbide is yellow, hence the name Yellow SiC. The company has a proprietary process for the manufacturing of ultra-pure 3C SiC and is now ready to scale this process. The company's IP has been developed by co-founder and CTO Professor Prof. Dr. Siegmund Greulich-Weber, a world-renowned specialist in silicon and silicon carbide, who was previously Professor of Physics at Paderborn University. The co-founder and CEO is Dr Christopher Höfener, a former leading private equity investor, who studied physics, maths and engineering. YellowSiC expects to generate 100% green hydrogen at 2¢/kwh in sunny countries such as Dubai, and 6¢/kwh in less sunny countries such as Germany. Each 150ha hydrogen generation plant is expected to save 56,000 tonnes of CO2 year. The company plans to open its first pilot hydrogen generation plant in Osnabrück in Lower Saxony in early 2025. "We want our first plant to be here in Germany so that we can have a material impact on our energy crisis," said Christopher Hoefener. "We always wanted our technology to produce renewable hydrogen at a competitive price in countries that aren't particularly sunny." In addition to generating hydrogen, YellowSiC will also sell its silicon carbide to the rapidly growing ingot wafer industry. "We expect to be generating revenues in the short term from the sale of silicon carbide as a drop-in commodity for the wafer industry," said Hoefener. YellowSiC is advised by Tom Whitehouse of the London-based specialist investment bank, Leif Capital . They are open for another investment by an business angel, before raising a larger Series A round. On the picture you can see the founders, some early employees, fellow investor Daan Loyens and me in front of the 3C SiC reactor in Osnabrück. Very impressive setup!

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