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Grenoble, May 24, 2018

Sylfen and CEA announce that they have successfully designed, assembled and tested in Grenoble in May 2018 the first functional demonstrator of the Smart Energy Hub, a solution for storing energy using hydrogen and cogeneration for buildings. This demonstrator marks a key step in the industrial strategy of the French high-temperature reversible electrolysis technology.

The Sylfen Smart Energy Hub is an innovative hybrid energy storage and cogeneration system, providing energy supply to buildings and eco-districts from local and renewable sources of energy production. With the Smart Energy Hub, the renewable energy produced at a building is directly consumed, and all surplus can be stored in Li-ion batteries and in the form of hydrogen. In a fully reversible way, the system restores to the user, when he needs it, electricity and heat, either by consuming the hydrogen previously created, or, in addition, from biogas or from the natural gas network.

At the heart of its product, Sylfen incorporates a breakthrough technology: a reversible solid oxide fuel cell (rSOC) acting both as a water electrolyser and as a fuel cell. This French innovation benefits from 10 years of R&D at Liten, the CEA Institute dedicated to renewable energies and located in Grenoble. With this innovative technology, it is possible to ensure functionalities of three energy systems with a single equipment: electrolyser, hydrogen fuel cell, combined heat and power from biogas or natural gas (CHP). In addition, rSOC technology provides the best performance for each of these energy functions, making it a natural choice for large scale hydrogen energy deployment.


The validation by CEA-Liten and Sylfen in May 2018 of the SmartHyes (Smart Hydrogen Energy System, technical details) first demonstration and true proof-of-concept of the Smart Energy Hub, marks three major advances for French technology:

1. a fully integrated system: the unit is supplied with industrial water and natural gas from the network. It produces, compresses, stores and reuses its own hydrogen. It is hybridized with lithium batteries and linked with the electricity grid, demonstrating all the features targeted for the Smart Energy Hub;

2. a flexible and fully automated operation: the system offers three power levels in each of its three operating modes (hydrogen production, hydrogen fuel cell, natural gas fuel cell), and can switch from one mode to another, in just a few minutes;

3. a service-oriented software supervision: it includes big data tools, friendly user interface reporting and a smart management that prefigure embedded softwares in Sylfen's future commercial products.

Smarthyes SYLFEN 2018

Illustration: Smarthyes 3D exterior view, and interior photography

With this result, Sylfen and CEA demonstrate that this high-temperature reversible electrolysis technology is ready to enter an industrialization sequence.

While the deployment of hydrogen technologies is accelerating around the world, Florence Lambert, Director of CEA-Liten, stresses the importance of the sector vision: "the realization of this demonstrator proves the capacity of French actors to develop best-in-the-world solutions. We must continue to strengthen this ecosystem by mobilizing not only our start-ups but also the major industrial and financial players: this is how we can transform our technological success into industrial and commercial success."

These good results also motivate the continuation of the partnership between Sylfen and CEA-Liten. Marc Potron, Sylfen's Director of Operations, confirms this commitment: "We appreciate CEA-Liten's ability to support us beyond pure laboratory research. We therefore start with the CEA our next two challenges: the scale-up of the technology to bring it to the level of power and modularity targeted by our applications, and the realization of a pilot workshop in Grenoble for manufacturing the heart of this breakthrough technology at the pre-industrial scale."

Time is running out: Sylfen will deliver before the end of 2019 a 3-module Smart Energy Hub in Turin with a power output of over 100kW! (more details here and on www.reflex-energy.eu)

Sylfen is a start-up created on June 5, 2015 in Grenoble by Nicolas BARDI and Caroline ROZAIN, joined in 2016 by Marc POTRON. Its shareholding is held by its co-founders as well as by CEA-Investissement and Innoenergy S.E. who accompany it in its development. Sylfen prepares its first fundraiser. www.sylfen.com

Press contact: François-Eudes RUCHON, Marketing and Sales Director - fe.ruchon@sylfen.com

The CEA, Commission for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies, is a major European player in research and innovation. CEA-Liten, with its 1000 researchers, is the institute of the CEA dedicated to new energy technologies. It works in three main areas: solar energy, batteries, the hydrogen sector, addressing in particular the energy, transport, housing and nomadic objects markets.

Press contact: Patrick CAPPE de BAILLON, Direction de la Communication - patrick.cappedebaillon@cea.fr