Sponsored content is premium paid-for content produced by the Irish Times Content Studio on behalf of commercial clients. The Irish Times newsroom or other editorial departments are not involved in the production of sponsored content.

Scalable Irish technologies that can combat the climate crisis

From milligrams to kilograms in carbon capture and generating electricity from industrial waste heat, Enterprise Ireland’s Commercial Fund is helping finance the hottest start-ups to address this problem

Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund supports third-level researchers to translate their research into innovative and commercially viable products, services and companies. Two of its current beneficiaries are engaged in the development of new technologies which have real potential to play a significant role in addressing the climate crisis.

The team at Pyramp — a soon-to-be spun-out venture from TU Dublin, Ireland, has developed a new thermophotovoltaic (TPV) technology to generate electricity from industrial waste heat. TPV devices operate quite similarly to solar PV, except instead of using solar energy, heat is converted into electricity with a superior energy density.

The second beneficiary, Sustainability Technologies, is engaged in the scaling and commercialisation of an innovative technology that efficiently captures CO2 from air. The technology offers an opportunity to support industries whose indirect CO2 emissions in the supply chain cannot be removed at source.

“We are addressing a key sustainability issue,” explains Pyramp founder Iftekhar Hussain. “We are the only company to offer heat to electricity generation at temperatures of over 1,000 degrees Celsius. We are the hottest start-up in Ireland.”


The technology is similar to solar PV, he continues. “Instead of converting visible light to electricity, TPV converts the infrared part of the spectrum. And while the sun is around 150 million kilometres from the earth, our system can be placed as close as one metre away from the heat source. With solar, you can get 200 watts per square metre of panels on a good sunny day. With TPV you can get 12 to 20 kilowatts. It’s an order of magnitude higher than solar PV.”

Originally from Bangladesh, Hussain has been working in the renewable energy area for some years and studied at the University of Kingston in London before coming to Ireland in 2014 to begin work on a PhD at TU Dublin.

Having developed and patented a material to improve the efficiency of solar PV systems, he began to look at the potential commercial application of TPV for industrial waste heat recovery. “We received Commercialisation Fund support in 2021. That allowed us to start de-risking the technology and to deploy small prototypes to test in industrial settings. In 2023, we were approved for a second round of funding to further de-risk the technology. We are hoping to spin out the company in the second quarter of this year. We hope to have a system ready for the market by late 2025.”

“The Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund has been a lifesaver,” Hussain adds. “They gave us the funding to start developing the product. That was the first time we saw the system with our own eyes. It was only theory before that.”

The carbon capture system from Sustainability Technologies is also nearing commercial reality. Founded by Wolfgang Schmitt, professor of inorganic and materials chemistry at TCD, and Dr Sebastien Vaesen, a research fellow at the Trinity School of Chemistry, Sustainability Technologies is engaged in the development of novel porous materials which can suck CO2 from the air. The material acts like a sponge. When air is pumped through it, the CO2 sticks to its internal surfaces. The CO2 can be released later for reuse or sequestration.

“We have developed units that capture CO2 at a low operational cost,” says Schmitt. “The technology is very energy efficient, and we believe the units outperform competitors on the market at present. Our aim is to develop and commercialise technology. We want to build units to a scale where the technology can make a meaningful contribution to climate action.”

In Profile: Barry Napier, Irish Times Business Person of the Year 2023

Listen | 47:29

While captured carbon can be sequestered and stored, Schmitt’s focus is on the circular economy. “We want to use the CO2 and transform it,” he says. “The CO2 from our system is very pure as it comes from the air. It can be used in greenhouses to boost growth. It can be transformed into products like sustainable aviation fuel and other fuels.”

The unit under development will be able to capture five tonnes of CO2 a year, but that’s not nearly enough. “To have some impact on climate change we need to capture tens of thousands or millions of tonnes and then transform it. Our challenge is to raise funds for the company to build units to capture 100 to 500 tonnes per year. That will be a commercial product. At the moment our job is to raise capital from venture capital and other investors and still scale the technology.”

In the meantime, the team is working to improve the technology. “We want to have [the] best carbon capture technology out there,” he says. “Scaling a technology like this is quite difficult. It is quite capital-intensive to take it from the laboratory. You are moving from milligrams to kilograms. The commercialisation fund gave us the opportunity to scale it and bring it out of the lab. We are very grateful for that. The fund also provides some training; I’m a scientist, not a business person so that has been important. We hope to launch the spin-out company within the next 12 months.”