Author profile picture

Between 2012 and 2017, the five friends were all involved in Forze Hydrogen Racing. The TU Delft student team developed the world’s first hydrogen-powered racing car, which shattered Tesla’s electric lap record on the Zandvoort circuit.

Now, seven years later, the five friends Jan Bot, Kevin Schreiber, Remco Duba, Jonas Brendelberger, and Remco Kortleve are raising €3 million to further develop their startup More specifically, they want to build a factory for hydrogen fuel cell systems in Rotterdam—not for cars but for barges, trucks, and excavators—just to name a few. because the European hydrogen sector is developing rapidly and heading for large-scale implementation. We interviewed co-founder Jan Bot.

You are building a plant for hydrogen fuel cell systems. How did you go from friends and a student team to entrepreneurs and a multi-million dollar company?

“The industry only had a little experience with hydrogen a few years ago, while we knew a lot about all facets – from design to operations – through our participation in the student team. That’s when we said: this is what we must continue with.

That was in 2016. We were then approached by a manufacturer of ground equipment at airports asking if we could investigate the application of hydrogen for their machines. That project ultimately did not go ahead at the time, but we were on the right track. Then, we started looking for customers and founded Zepp in early 2017. We now have two branches: our office is still in Delft, and in Rotterdam, we have a workshop on the RDM Campus. This is also where the factory is to be located, and we can assemble up to 1,000 systems per year. It’s very cool to do this with the five of us.”

Jan Bot, co-founder of

How does your technology work?

“We make PEM fuel cell systems. When used in our fuel cell systems, hydrogen is combined with oxygen (from the ambient air surrounding the system) to convert the chemical energy stored in the fuel (hydrogen) and oxidizer (oxygen) into electrical energy and water vapor. The electrical energy released from this electrochemical reaction can be used to power any application. Generally, this involves driving or boating on hydrogen.”’ hydrogen fuel cell

What about the competition?

“That depends on how you look at it. make the most power-dense hydrogen fuel systems on the market. That means there is a lot of space to put hydrogen tanks in, so we can offer a long range. On diesel, you can always sail or drive very far; with the transition to zero emissions, the range gets minor, but we do everything possible to minimize that difference.

In addition, we supply the fuel cell and the storage system. That ensures that the integration costs are lower than for parties offering either. Just converting vehicles is not what we do.”

What is Zepp’s biggest challenge right now?

“It is sometimes unpredictable which niche sectors accelerate the fastest. For example, there was the nitrogen crisis, which meant that construction sites suddenly needed all green equipment. We respond to that; our strategy has always been to develop a system that finds application in as many sectors as possible. Our system is in excavators, trucks, and a barge. But it remains to be seen how the sector develops in general.”

Where will you be a year from now?

“We want to set up a factory in two or three years to produce a thousand fuel cell systems yearly. There are nineteen people on our payroll now; we will double that number this year. Next year, we will start building the production facility. If you look at European goals, there should be 60,000 green trucks on the road in less than six years. We don’t expect a 100 percent market share, but it does give us an idea of how much we need to scale up.”