Pleased to meet: Cyriaan Teunissen



Pleased to meet: Cyriaan TeunissenIn this series we put the spotlight on VoltaChem’s team members and get to know them more in-depth. We explore their role, background, expertise, motivations and ambitions. In this edition: Cyriaan Teunissen, Business Developer Energy Transition of the Power-2-Integrate program line at VoltaChem.

Cyriaan is motivated to contribute to the development of green hydrogen electrolysis. He was trained in Business Law (Leiden University), was successful as an entrepreneur and later switched to Chemical Engineering (Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences). Cyriaan focussed at Urban Hydrogen Implementation at Gasunie New Energy and at Vinci Energies he worked internationally on sustainability by improving the industrial performance of production processes. In 2021 he joined TNO as Business Developer Energy Transition.

How did you end up at TNO?

I made the switch to chemical engineering because I wanted to contribute to society instead of consuming. There is a fast-growing interest in green hydrogen. When I first got involved in hydrogen research at Gasunie in 2016 there were lots of unanswered questions. This field has developed considerably since then, but with the current speed of development the ambitions – from energy scenarios for 2030 and 2050 – will not be met. It’s hard to really make impact. At TNO I’m able to make the impact I desire and I have the freedom to set up things from scratch.

What does your job at VoltaChem involve?

I am involved in hydrogen electrolysis, which in my opinion is the basic process for the future. The green, sustainable industry of the future cannot do without hydrogen. It will facilitate the integration of large amounts of wind energy and is essential for seasonal energy storage. In order to realise the transition to a sustainable industry, we will have to collaborate with the industry. And new generations of electrolysers are developed. As Business Developer I focus on value proposition and I try to connect people. I support companies throughout the hydrogen transition. I consult with green hydrogen operators and have contact with high-tech companies, for example. I also develop programs, I’m responsible for sales of projects and maintaining contact with our partners. I really enjoy working at TNO. It’s inspiring to work with so many people with different expertise, you learn a lot from each other. Everyone is ambitious and optimistic and wants to make a difference. It’s a fun environment, in which you have a lot of freedom.

What are your focussing on now?

Data science is starting to play an increasingly important role for design and operation of energy systems. I want to use data, from for example sensors, to look inside electrolysers. There are many plans for electrolysers, but to date only two are operating in the Netherlands. A lot will be invested in the development of electrolysers in the coming years. But at the moment we have little experience with their performances, maintenance requirements and operation conditions. A significant step towards optimalisation and professionalisation still has to be made. To achieve this, we’ll use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). You can create a so-called digital twin of an electrolyser, but also of the processes within the electrolyser. We’re making models to map the performance and degradation of electrolysers, for example. And we’ll then use data to calibrate these models, which can be done even in (near) real-time. So we’ll use a physics-informed data-driven model to map the system for calibration and optimisation of the processes in electrolysers. This can help you to learn when equipment can best be replaced, and thereby contribute to so-called condition based maintenance. The model can help you make operational and maintenance planning decisions. Sensors alone don’t provide the complete picture of what is happening in the system, models are  needed to be combined with the obtained data to give a full picture on the electrolysers performance and propose optimised strategies to operate these systems.

What are the biggest challenges in your line of work?

A lot of research is being done on the optimisation of electrolysers, and as I illustrated, the use of data is a promising alternative option because it looks from the outside in. This means that data must be obtained and shared between stakeholders, but that will undoubtedly lead to discussions. We therefore propose to use Federated Transfer Learning, in which data is not shared but only used to train the model. In short, no one gets the data, but everyone can learn from it. Such novel technologies can accelerate the learning curve in the sector in a collective manner.

Another challenge is the electricity grid. It’s already a matter of balancing, adding electrolysers will provide an additional challenge. But ultimately you can use them to supply energy to the grid, and they will be part of the electricity network. Before that happens, we need to know as much as possible about electrolysers and optimise them.

What are your personal ambitions and motivations in your work?

To be honest, I have several. Together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (Ministerie van Economische Zaken en Klimaat, EZK) we are looking at how we can apply data monitoring efficiently and how we can promote its sharing. The goal is to digitally connect electrolysers in the Netherlands, Europe and even globally to reduce the cost of operation and realisation of green hydrogen systems. I want this to be up and running first.

Something different: I’m also committed to the Innovation for Development (I4D) program, where we develop innovations in low- and middle-income countries to improve the lives of people living below the poverty line. There’s a lot to do in this field as well! Finally, to be successful you need to collaborate, to work together, and the best motivation is working with my colleagues. We help each other to get things done, to make an impact. And if that succeeds, a lot of positive energy is created. And that motivates a lot!


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