20 February 2024
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Eindhoven start-up RIFT, which has developed a 'circular fuel' technology for industrial production processes and power plants, has raised €2 million in a first round of investment. The capital injection from Rubio Impact Ventures, the Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij and the Energietransitiefonds Rotterdam comes shortly after the announcement that climate fund Breakthrough Energy, founded by Bill Gates, is investing in the company.
RIFT, which grew out of a TU/e student team SOLID, claims its iron fuel technology will enable companies that have no alternative to fossil fuels to become more sustainable through iron fuel. Burning iron fuel creates energy in the form of renewable heat. The rust that remains afterwards can be converted back into iron powder using renewable hydrogen, thus completing the sustainable circle. On top of the CO2-free nature of the technology, RIFT says it also ensures that less nitrogen emissions are released than with fossil fuels. This is not only better for the environment, it also ensures that companies and regions get more nitrogen space that they can use for other activities.
RIFT is currently testing iron fuel production at Energy Demo Field in Arnhem and running a boiler at the Helmond combined heat and power plant. There, the Eindhoven-based company is heating five hundred houses via the heat network together with the heat company Ennatuurlijk. The ambition is to implement these systems worldwide, with the aim of saving 1 gigaton of CO2 per year by 2050. "The new capital injections can help us potentially accelerate these ambition plans," said Mark Verhagen, CEO of RIFT. Verhagen: ''It goes without saying that we are delighted to receive so much support from all corners of the world. This additional capital injection will enable us to further develop the current test systems and grow our team, enabling us to accelerate the energy transition even sooner."
The investment round, led by Rubio, was officially completed before Bill Gates' climate fund Breakthrough Energy announced it would provide money and support to RIFT. The timing of this could not have been better, says Helmer Schukken, managing partner at Rubio. Schukken: "This international support is incredibly important. They have much more say in Europe and America. New laws and regulations are needed, for example, before this sustainable fuel can be used on a large scale. In the meantime, we are guiding and funding RIFT to continue growing. We see that this company and the technology it is working on has the potential to be a breakthrough in the energy transition. Without a solution like RIFT's, it will remain a major challenge for energy-intensive industries to reduce their gas consumption.''
The other Dutch investors fully concur. Jesse In 't Velt (investment manager at Energietransitiefonds Rotterdam, InnovationQuarter): "Over seventy per cent of the energy-intensive industry in the Port Industrial Complex in Rotterdam requires heat and now mainly runs on fossil fuels such as gas. Hydrogen and heat pumps are good alternatives, but the infrastructure cannot keep up with the growth. RIFT's iron fuel technology fits well into this mix of power-to-heat solutions. This makes this technology essential for regional goals."
''The development of this new fuel and the impact it can have on our goals in the energy transition requires a strong ecosystem,'' says Marc de Haas, Venture Developer at the Brabant Development Company.
''That system originated in our region from TU/e and consists of companies, knowledge institutions, investors and governments. We see RIFT as an important player that will take that ecosystem a lot further by applying the technology in the market. That in turn will create a heavy sticky effect on other parties in the ecosystem''.