Company News, Media Coverage|March 24, 2023

IRISH TIMES | Barry O’Halloran | March 24, 2023

Irish start-up HT Materials Science (HTMS) has secured $15 million (€13.8 million) in backing from investors including Aramco Ventures and Barclays to continue developing a product that cuts buildings’ energy bills.

HTMS has developed a fluid, Maxwell, that cuts energy use in commercial buildings’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, helping to tackle key problems in reducing their costs and carbon emissions.

The Irish-headquartered company has just raised $15 million from Saudi Arabia’s Aramco Ventures, Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital, Italy’s CDP Venture Capital and specialist investor, Progress Tech Transfer.

Kyran McStay, HTMS chairman, said the company will use the cash to hire specialised sales staff who will continue to target multinational customers around the globe, and on further research and development.

He said Maxwell – named after pioneering Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell – can be added to the water used in cooling systems to improve its efficiency.

However, while water is simple to use, Mr McStay said it’s a “relatively inefficient heat conductor” so HTMS developed Maxwell, a suspension of aluminium particles, which is added to boost its efficiency, thus cutting energy consumption.

The product reduces heating, ventilation and air conditioning carbon emissions and lowers bills by around 15 per cent, he said.

The company has sold the product to Aramco, US pharmaceutical groups, Regeneron and Johnson and Johnson, and real estate giant, Swire Pacific, which uses it in a shopping centre in Hong Kong.

These are trial sales, but have so far proved successful, so should lead to bigger deals. HTMS targeted multinationals as they have a lot of buildings, often with complex heating and cooling systems.

Maxwell’s key attraction is that it eliminates the need to replace these systems while making them more efficient.

Mr McStay said that this is a key problem in tackling buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses often cannot afford to replace expensive heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, leaving little scope to reduce this equipment’s energy use.

One challenge is overcoming companies’ concerns about the possible risk involved in doing something new with existing, expensive equipment.

“You’re talking to engineers and asking them to put something other than water into their cooling systems,” said Mr McStay.

This is why HTMS focuses on sales staff, as they themselves need specialised knowledge to address potential buyers’ doubts.

It is also reason for the product’s name. Mr McStay said “every engineer knows Maxwell’s equation”, which deals with heat transfer.

HTMS employs 25 people, some in Italy, where the product is made and where it was originally developed, in Salento University.

The company chose the Republic as its headquarters as chief executive, Thomas Grizzetti, whose background is finance, was working here when research led him to the idea.

HTMS has a research partnership with Trinity College Dublin and has received backing from Enterprise Ireland.

Mr McStay said the company found it easy to find the expertise it needed here, while the Republic provides a “natural springboard” for selling to multinationals.

‑ Reproduced from original source