Cooperation and licensing agreement between the Paul Scherrer Institute and Alphasynt

The Paul Scherrer Institute and Alphasynt have recently signed a cooperation- and licensing agreement. In doing so, the two pave the way for a fruitful collaboration in the commercialization of methanation. 

From left: Adrian Selinger, Luca Schmidlin, and Andreas Aeschimann signing the cooperation and licensing agreement between PSI and Alphasynt. (Photo: Serge Biollaz)
Tilman Schildhauer at the Ganymeth. (Photo: Scanderbeg Sauer Photography)

Methanation is the process whereby methane is formed/produced from gas that contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, or both. In biogas plants, CO2 already comes mixed with methane. For the biogas plant to feed the methane/gas into the natural gas grid, it must first separate the CO2. With PSI’s new technology, Tilman Schildhauer, who is actively involved in the project, explains: “It is no longer necessary to separate the CO2, but instead, hydrogen is added together with the biogas in the catalytic reactor to produce even more methane”. This is more attractive because it saves the effort of separating CO2. The additional methane gained from the reaction of CO2 mixed with hydrogen results in a 60% increase in the production of the end-product methane without using more green waste. “The crucial point for Power-to-Gas at biogas plants is the question of which value green methane has and how expensive the electricity needed to produce hydrogen is.”, according to Schildhauer.

The cooperation’s ultimate goal is for Alphasynt to adopt PSI’s know-how to then independently offer the technology and acquire customers, as well as to build and commission  plants in the markets. The two partners also closely collaborate in obtaining first projects and potential investors. For PSI, it is important to have an implementation partner that can build certified facilities implementing PSI technology. Alphasynt can profit from their  background of experience and already has a valuable network of reliable subcontracting companies. "This is important, to have this network of companies around where you know "If I order a heat exchanger it will work and is properly welded". You need a bunch of specialized companies around you with whom you can reliably collaborate,” Tilman Schildhauer explains. Andreas Aeschimann is the CEO of Alphasynt and brings  implementation knowledge due to his industry experience whilst Luca Schmidlin, CTO at Alphasynt has his own methanation projects at Fachhochschule OST  in Rapperswil and is therefore already very knowledgable in this area. For the knowledge transfer from PSI to Alphasynt, documents that capture the know-how in writing are created. “But there is also a lot of tacit knowledge that has to be transferred through close cooperation and intensive discussions,” says Schildhauer.

Whilst Power-to-Gas has several technology providers, scientists at PSI are relatively confident that they could be one of the cheapest on the market as they expect this technology to produce more biogas and therefore be more profitable compared to the fossil alternative.

Text: Michelle Kalousek


Dr. Tilman Schildhauer
Methanation Research
Paul Scherrer Institute
Forschungsstrasse 111
5232 Villigen PSI

Telephone: +41 56 310 27 06