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#StartupStories: The future solution to mobility

An interview with Martin Pentenrieder, co-founder at Kraftwerk

Recognizing the growing popularity of electric cars and the global movement towards reducing CO2 emissions, the team at Kraftwerk have created a revolutionary, highly efficient fuel cell, which uses natural gas to produce cleaner energy. As part of the INFINITI Accelerator 2.0 program, Kraftwerk is developing a fuel cell extender solution to apply to existing electric cars. They are also developing their marketing arm in Hong Kong through the INFINITI Accelerator 2.0 program, to educate investors and consumers about their technology.

Air pollution has been a huge and serious topic in the city over the last few decades, and the general public has been paying more attention in reducing the emission of pollutants, which in turn has encouraged the development of electric cars. However, with the current technology and the way batteries for electric vehicles are being produced, the emission of CO2 hasn’t dropped drastically. The fusor for lithium ion batteries is very expensive with a lot of technical issues. “It is very expensive, yet the battery runs out quickly and it takes a long time to recharge,” Martin Pentenrieder, co-founder at Kraftwerk says.

With the mission to give a real impact in the fight against pollution and global warming and providing a more efficient alternative to lithium ion batteries, Kraftwerk strives to redefine electric mobility with the new technology.

Liquefied natural gas-powered fuel cell: feasible model for Hong Kong

Martin’s co-founder Sascha Kühn started the research on liquefied natural gas-powered fuel cells 15 years ago. Martin believes that this could be the future of electric cars in Hong Kong. “With Kraftwerk’s compact, full metal fuel cell, we can transform natural gas or hydrogen into electricity with an extremely high efficiency,” he says. Kraftwerk’s fusor can generate electricity in one compact package, and the product can run on natural gas (LPG, LNG, CNG, propane etc.) as well as hydrogen. “Our German fuel cell technology offers a much cleaner and efficient alternative to lithium ion batteries for long term sustainability concept. It can solve three major problems which exist with lithium ion batteries: pricing, weight and energy density. An electric car with our powertrain requires a refill just after 2000 miles by a 1-minute charge. The entire system will be just one-third of the weight and cost of a lithium ion battery EV,” Martin claims.

Martin points out Kraftwerk’s full metal fuel cell is the lowest carbon footprint mobility concept in the world. Martin says natural gas like CNG can be produced easily with the Power to Gas technology, a technology that converts electrical power to a gas fuel. The technology allows us to create natural gas out of renewable energy, reduce the emission of CO2 and enable a more sustainable future.

As well as being environmental friendly, Martin also pinpoints that it is a viable model for cities like Hong Kong. As the city is already armed with a large infrastructure of liquid petroleum gas(LPG) filling station, Martin says natural gas like CNG would work.

INFINITI Accelerator, Kraftwerk, HK Startup Stories

From Kickstarter to INFINITI Accelerator

Kraftwerk launched a campaign on Kickstarter in 2015 for its MVP (minimum viable product), a pocket-sized USB charger that uses fuel cell technology to convert camping fuel or lighter fluid into electricity. The campaign was chosen as a staff pick on Kickstarter, with more than 11.6K backers, Kraftwerk has successfully secured over US$1.5 million for its MVP power plant.

With such a huge success with the MVP, the US-based startup decided to join the INFINITI accelerator program to find a suitable investor and further accelerate the business. The INFINITI Accelerator 2.0 is a 12-week, full-time program designed to help startups from around the world grow and scale rapidly. Martin hopes to develop Kraftwerk’s marketing arm in Hong Kong through the accelerator program as educating customers and investors has been one of the biggest challenges for them. “The accelerator program is a great opportunity for Kraftwerk to better understand its potential clients and get feedbacks from them,” Martin says.

Using Hong Kong as one of their test markets, Kraftwerk also has set its sights on the highly populated Chinese mobility market, which is striving to become greener and more sustainable. “Hong Kong is the easiest way to get a soft start as it is an international city, we have encountered fewer problems when communicating with locals.”

Looking to the future, Martin hopes to further spread the message that there are other solutions to mobility besides the battery. He says the team is motivated by the eager to help lower the CO2 emission in Asia by developing a more sustainable and clean technology for the mobility concept.

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