The Koolen Industries team continues to grow! We’re thrilled to have had Kevin Rouwenhorst join Koolen Industries.
Our recent recruit brings invaluable expertise on green hydrogen and its derivatives, with a special focus on ammonia and its potential to support the energy transition.
Kevin’s transition to Koolen Industries encapsulates exactly what’s possible within the group; starting his career as a PhD student at group company, Proton Ventures, to now becoming a valuable member of the Koolen Industries team. There are endless opportunities for professional development within Koolen Industries group, across various clean energy specialties in 25+ group companies!
We sat down with Kevin to learn more about his work and how he’s enjoying working for Koolen Industries so far.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Kevin! We’re glad to have you here. Could you please start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
K: My name is Kevin Rouwenhorst, and I am born and raised in Haaksbergen (a village in Twente) The Netherlands. I studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Twente, and went on to pursue a PhD in plasma-catalytic ammonia synthesis. During the last year of my PhD research, I started working part-time for Proton Ventures (the ammonia company in the Koolen Industries group), and the Ammonia Energy Association. And I’ve recently joined the team at Koolen Industries as ‘Technology Expert Power-to-X’.
‘Power-to-X’ sounds quite intriguing! Can you tell us a little more about what that entails?
K: Essentially it means I focus on the technological aspects (and also economic aspects) of conversions from electrons to molecules of the companies in the group, for example the conversion of electrons to hydrogen in the Battolyser, or the conversion of hydrogen and atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia, a zero-carbon hydrogen carrier. I also look at new opportunities and start-ups in the space of Power-to-X.
Proton Ventures, Koolen Industries, and the broader group of companies are all driven by the mission to accelerate the energy transition. Can you tell us why you think working in the energy transition is important?
K: On a global level, extracting oil and gas already leads to fugitive emissions the moment these are extracted from wells, and then further along the value chain, once burned, the emissions such as CO2, N2O, and CH4 go to the atmosphere, causing a global warming effect.
And that’s not the only thing we should consider, because electrification and decarbonization will make the society healthier. By cooking with electricity, and soon driving electric as a norm rather than burning hydrocarbons, we generate less particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and other health-related issues, making humans and the broader environment healthier.
Sounds like you’re inspired to make a difference. And what would you say inspired you to continue your work on the energy transition through Koolen Industries more specifically?
K: After a total of 6 years mainly focused on ammonia, I noticed that I was more broadly fascinated with Power-to-X technologies, such as batteries, electrolyzers, and hydrogen carriers more broadly. And Koolen Industries offers a portfolio of Power-to-X technologies. So, after a few discussions with Kees [Koolen] on his view and my view on the energy transition, and specific technologies therein, I was convinced and joined the team!
So what does a typical day look like at Koolen Industries?
Days vary a lot, but usually I will focus on a technology item of some of the Power-to-X companies within the group. The number of meetings is relatively limited, which is a blessing. Sometimes I meet up with start-ups, and evaluate their technologies. Also, I still enjoy doing my project for Proton Ventures on Green Ammonia Production. Generally speaking, there are also a few hours per day where I freely explore opportunities in the Power-to-X space.
About three days per week I work from the Koolen Industries office in Hengelo. During the other days I travel, or work remotely.
It sounds like you get to enjoy a lot of variation! What’s it like working at The Green Box cleantech campus in Hengelo?
The Green Box is a vibrant place. Due to the increased interest in the energy transition, and the various companies on campus, often you can find yourself discussing interesting new aspects of the energy transition over lunch. And it is great to know that the real products, such as EV chargers and batteries are actually manufactured in the hall next door, and electrolyzers are tested outside. The different aspects come together in one place.
Since starting, what would you say you enjoy best about working for Koolen Industries?
K: It is really nice to work with down-to-earth colleagues, who are all experts in their respective jobs. It ranges from getting coffee with the whole team, making lunch together, to having inspiring discussions on opportunities in the energy transition. It is nice to work in an organization where people really love what they are doing, and in the meantime, we work on something very crucial: the energy transition.
Can you tell us about a project that you were excited to be involved with?
K: Proton Ventures is part of the TransHydrogen Alliance, which is developing a green ammonia plant in Pecem, Brazil, with the aim to export the ammonia to Rotterdam as a zero-carbon fuel and hydrogen carrier. It is really exciting to be able to think along in real projects with large production capacities, and always think about how we can do this 5% smarter than the rest of the industry. It was also very interesting to be onsite in Pecem, Brazil and realize that there is a port, but there is simply nothing except for bush and grass on the location where the green ammonia plant will be, and this is where we can really make the difference. For reference, the green ammonia plant in Brazil could feed about 5% of the current industrial hydrogen demand in the Netherlands.
If you had to describe the Koolen Industries team in one word, what would that be?
That’s reassuring to hear! Could you give some insight into how the Koolen Industries team works together?
K: On a day-to-day basis, a lot of things are processed through informal communication in the office, and when colleagues operate remotely, we discuss via e-mail, telephone, or via WhatsApp. The nice thing is that everyone has the opportunity to exchange ideas, and different perspectives help frame us toward a common narrative that is nuanced yet straight to the point.
What qualities do you think are important to be successful at Koolen Industries?
K: I think being driven, and doing what you like are some of the most important things. Being motivated to make the best out of every week is contagious and brings a good work atmosphere. Being flexible is probably also a good quality when working in an emerging field.
If you could say one thing to people thinking about applying to work at Koolen Industries, what would it be?
K: Do it. Working in a team with attentive and motivated people will make work not just a matter of filling the hours, but rather something that will make you go home with a smile.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience working for Koolen Industries?
K: It is fantastic to be part of a team that works on relevant green technologies in the energy transition!
Does Kevin's experience sound like something you'd like to be a part of? Join the Koolen Industries group work with us towards the energy transition.