Sun Catalytix is an early-stage renewable energy startup founded on groundbreaking science from the research lab of Professor Daniel Nocera at MIT. The company seeks to combine sunlight and water to provide affordable, highly distributed solar energy to the individual. According to the company their single goal is clean energy storage.
The company is founded by Dr. Daniel G. Nocera the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy and Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Prof. Nocera is also Director of MIT’s Solar Revolutions Project and the ENI Solar Frontiers Center.
The company has raised about $14.5mn so far according to CrunchBase. According to recent reports in the media, the company raised a Series B round for $9.5 million that was led by Tata Limited and included participation from Polaris Venture Partners and other investors, which weren’t disclosed.
The company is working on a cheap solar energy storage system that coverts solar energy into hydrogen and costs less than $20. The system according to reports should be in the market in less than 18 months.
One of the biggest draw backs of Solar power systems is that they work well during the day, but it is usually very expensive to store the energy to use at night in batteries. This is where Nocera had an insight. Inspired by photosynthesis, Nocera and a post-doctoral student determined that they could use solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, storing the hydrogen in a fuel cell for use during the night. Any type of water can be used–even waste water. “We have the capability to power a household with just two bottles of water from any source,” Nocera has said.
According to reports, Tata Sons Chairman Ratan Tata is understood to be taking a personal interest in the project, while simultaneously providing personnel from his group companies to make this project successful. Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover (a Tata company), is on the board of Sun Catalytix. While the Tata group has officially pumped $9.5 million into the company, people with knowledge of the development say the investment is much more and that Ratan Tata is a co-owner.
This is interesting given that the price point (about $20) is very attractive and Tata Group has forayed into low cost innovations like Nano car and the Swach water filter.
Ideally, the investment of Tata Group should provide the necessary distribution and sales channel that such an low-cost offgrid solar application would require along with the potential for creative financing.
Panchabuta, will follow the launch of Sun Catalytix into the market and their success story.