Photo: Mississipi River Delta. Osmotic power is extracted from the difference in the salt concentration when river fresh water meets sea water, which naturally occurs in river deltas. (Courtesy of Sweetch Energy/Image by European Space Agency)

Sweetch Energy gets €5.2M boost for osmotic power prototype

French-based osmotic power pioneer Sweetch Energy has secured €5.2 million to develop its first full-scale osmotic power prototype and start the industrialisation phase for the novel clean power source.

Image showing Mississipi River Delta. Osmotic power is extracted from the difference in the salt concentration when river fresh water meets sea water, which naturally occurs in river deltas. (Courtesy of Sweetch Energy/Image by European Space Agency)
Mississipi River Delta. Osmotic power is extracted from the difference in the salt concentration when river fresh water meets sea water, which naturally occurs in river deltas. (Courtesy of Sweetch Energy/Image by European Space Agency)

The investment round was supported by a group of deeptech and cleantech investors with a strong track record in backing highly disruptive industrial companies such as Ÿnsect, Meatable or McPhy Energy.

It was led by new investor Future Positive Capital, and co-led by existing investors Demeter and Go Capital.

Other investors such as Dominique Gaillard, co-founder of Ardian, and Fabio Ferrari, founder of Symbio, one of Europe’s pioneers in the hydrogen industry, also participated. Also, the French environmental and energy management agency ADEME provided additional funding as well.

Osmotic energy represents a revolutionary addition to existing renewable energy technologies, according to Sweetch Energy, a French-based company that pioneers advanced nanotechnology and eco-material science to harness osmotic energy.

Naturally available from the difference in the salt concentration when river fresh water meets sea water, osmotic power provides a non-intermittent and abundant source of clean energy. Unlike wind or solar energies, and similarly to hydropower, it can deliver electricity continuously, and is easily dispatchable to meet the grid baseload power requirements.

With an estimated 27,000 terawatt-hours liberated every year in deltas and estuaries around the world – equivalent to today’s global electricity demand – osmotic energy offers an abundant, but so far untapped, clean energy source.

Sweetch Energy’s proprietary system combines recent breakthroughs in nanofluidic sciences with low-cost eco-friendly materials to create next-generation membranes, coupled with specifically engineered electrodes and innovative cell designs.

The technology is said to yield unrivalled performances in the field and can harness osmotic energy with a level of cost-efficiency never achieved before, opening the door to large-scale deployment of osmotic energy as a competitive market solution, according to Sweetch Energy.

Lyderic Bocquet, CNRS researcher, director of the Institut Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (PSL University) and one of world’s foremost authorities on nanofluidics, is the original inventor of nano osmotic diffusion and one of Sweetch Energy’s co-founders.

Bocquet said: “Sweetch Energy’s engineering team has managed to convert in a record-time the results of our fundamental research into a complete system ready to be scaled up. This is a clear demonstration of how the alliance of academic research and private entrepreneurship can lead to new solutions to fight climate change”.

Nicolas Heuzé, CEO and co-founder of Sweetch Energy, added: “After three years of laboratory research successfully validating our technology, this new funding brings Sweetch Energy the resources necessary to initiate our industrialization phase. This includes expanding our engineering team, developing manufacturing capacities and building a first full-scale prototype within the next three years.

“We are currently exploring partnerships to identify the ideal location to install our prototype. Our ambition is to pioneer a new era for the osmotic energy industry. Our next-generation membrane technology, based on state-of-the-science nanotechnology, will be its key enabler”.