Accelerating the hydrogen revolution with nanocoatings

Katharina Kittelberger

Startup Stories

For a successful energy transition, the use of fossil fuels must be reduced. Naco Technologies believes that green hydrogen is an energy carrier that will replace gas and oil in the future. The mission of the Latvian startup, founded in 2020, is to develop high-quality solutions based on new materials, such as innovative nano coatings, which will make future energy climate-neutral and sustainable.

Aleksandrs Parfinovičs, Chief Executive Officer, finds that the market is "hungry for new technologies. That's why the foundation of Naco Technologies comes at just at the right time." So is the cooperation with 5-HT, which began after our X-Linker H2 event in 2021. To this, Aleksandrs recalls, "That was the most intense day so far during my entire startup career." 

Naco Founder_Aleksandrs Parfinovics
Naco Founder Aleksandrs Parfinovics 

In the interview with 5-HT, he explains to us how Naco Technologies' technology can enrich the market, what role 5-HT plays in this regard, and what our X-Linker H2 event entailed. 

New startup, old team: What was the motivation to dedicate yourself to the hydrogen sector? 

"Our team has already been working together for eight years. We started in the automotive sector, where we were able to sell our innovative friction reduction solutions to the German Schaeffler Group a few years ago. That was a great success," says Aleksandrs. "Because we harmonize as a team, it was clear after the exit that we would like to continue working together," he adds. 

When the EU Commission announced last year that hydrogen would be a crucial factor in the European development strategy, we felt addressed.

In this "call-to-action" Aleksandrs saw more than just the creation of a new startup: "We quickly realized how far-reaching the positive effects in this field go. Both for the European and the international hydrogen market." 

The focus of Naco Technologies is in particular on nano-coatings, that can make the hydrogen systems more robust and attractive in the future. 

What exactly are nano-coatings? What does Naco Technologies deal within this context? 

"In principle, nano-coating is a super thin layer that is measured in nanometers. What is special about our technology is that it works up to ten times faster than a conventional nano-coating technology. This has many advantages, including higher productivity, better coating structure, significantly lower cost”, he emphasizes. 

Aleksandrs explains exactly what the team is working on: "Our solution is to make green hydrogen more affordable as a new energy source. Today, the catalytic process used to produce clean hydrogen from water is not only expensive, but also dependent on expensive materials. Our developed system is used for both hydrogen production and consumption”, he continues. 

Hydrogen is very aggressive. That's why we're developing nano-coating to protect all the main components of hydrogen production and consumption systems.

In addition, Naco Technologies is developing special nano-coating solutions and new materials that replace the need for platinum and other expensive materials in the production and use of hydrogen.

The Naco coating solution
The Naco coating solution

The result of this: The systems become less expensive, but also more robust, which keeps them operational for a longer time. 

Who exactly will benefit from your innovation? Define your target group.

"Firstly, companies that manufacture electrolys and fuel cells can use our innovation," says Aleksandrs. "We noticed that this industrial sector is growing very fast. More and more big companies from the automotive, electronics and energy industries joined. Our technology provides solutions with secure IP and ready industrialization. It also leads itself to our target audience being able to start scaling hydrogen system production immediately, without material or competitive constraints."

In this context, Naco Technoloies has already carried out a number of successful pilot projects. These confirmed how the performance of hydrogen systems can be improved and costs reduced by providing them with unique material recipes and coating solutions.  

This positive feedback encourages us to support other companies in making their hydrogen systems cheaper and at the same time more robust.

For this reason, the young startup will continue to focus on this target group in the future.

How can you now make money with the combination of hydrogen and nano-coating? 

"Essentially, the idea is to manufacture components with nano-coatings. The customer benefits from this because by switching from an old-fashioned technology to a new one, they save on expensive materials, which lowers their costs. This automatically makes their product more competitive, from which we all naturally benefit," he continues. 

Hydrogen solutions are currently gaining enormous popularity. What sets Naco Technologies apart from its competitors? 

"Overall, the market for green hydrogen and its corresponding systems is growing enormously fast. It is expected that in 30 years, about 15% of the energy market will be supplied with green hydrogen."

The rapid growth in hydrogen is comparable to the explosive growth in IT during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, Naco Technologies does not yet have any dominant competitors in terms of its nano-coatings for hydrogen systems. Especially because this area is still in the early stages of market development.

Acting quickly and adapting to the market are core attributes of a startup. What are your plans for the next five years? 

"Currently, we describe ourselves as a center for research and development, because primarily we develop new coating recipes and materials. Although this part is obviously important for a company, in the coming years we would like our business to be mostly involved with production of coated components for hydrogen systems.”

In this context, where do you see the application areas of your technology in the chemical and healthcare industry? 

"Of course, working with green hydrogen systems is already one hundred percent chemistry-based. The beauty here in terms of healthcare is that the shift from fossil fuels to green hydrogen will simultaneously improve everyone's health. In that sense, our work indirectly affects the health sector as well," he grins.

The participation in our X-Linker H2 event was the kick-off of our cooperation. What were your impressions? What are your hopes for the future collaboration?  

"In retrospect, we consider ourselves lucky to have been selected as one of several startups that had the opportunity to present themselves at this event," Aleksandrs points out. "In essence, the event already represented what 5-HT stands for, which is to help young, innovative companies connect with big companies." 

"We advise every startup to cooperate with 5-HT. Especially the X-Linker H2 is a good example of a well-organized, progressive approach that brings young companies together with established ones."

This was also the case at Naco Technologies: "In just a few hours, I exchanged ideas with nine major companies. This was challenging, but also effective, because with most of them we continue to work together or discuss a possible collaboration. Thus, overall, the participation was a great success, because it is not easy on your own to establish contact with the large companies that are, for example, in the network of 5-HT.

In general, the cooperation 5-HT was full of interesting and pleasant experiences. Their way of establishing contacts has proven to be an efficient method. 

We look forward to more."

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