Electrochemical processes must become more efficient and less capital intensive in order to make decarbonization and electrification economically feasible for sectors that are highly dependent on fossil fuels, such as transportation, buildings and heavy industry. Decarbonizing hydrogen production can abate between 2-6 gigatons of CO2 (vs. business-as-usual) per year, worldwide.
The report from the Energy Transitions Commission, Mission Possible: Reaching Net-Zero Carbon Emissions from Harder-to-Abate Sectors by Mid-Century, claims that in addition to a dramatic shift in the source of hydrogen, we also need a 7-11x increase in its production in order to replace currently used energy sources (bunker oil, kerosene, diesel, methane) for heavy transportation and reducing agents (coal, methane) for chemical synthesis.
Advanced Ionics electrolyzer technology and business will directly address the need for cost-effective hydrogen production, while using electricity from zero-carbon sources. Here, clean, affordable, on-site and on-demand hydrogen production is being developed. This technology will enable renewable electricity and under-utilized thermal energy to power the most demanding industrial processes and will reduce upfront capital expenses and input energy, thereby outcompeting the economics of delivered hydrogen this decade.
We have redesigned the architecture for electrolyzer cells from the ground up to be low-cost, efficient, and even recyclable. This is different from the “one-off” advances in electrolyzer technology (e.g., a new catalyst or membrane) which do not address the fundamental issues hindering electrolyzer cost and performance. A broad patent (US20150354071A1) describes the basis for our technology.
Cost reduction is accomplished by eliminating the expensive, rare elements normally utilized, such as platinum and iridium. We instead use nickel, steel, rubber, and plastics. Second, we enable electrolyzers to finally be installed at industrial facilities, with the ability to utilize waste heat (250-650 °C) to provide higher efficiency and lower operating costs. This means we will be able to co-locate next to an ammonia production plant, a refinery, a metallurgical operation, or even a nuclear reactor, and have synergy with their thermal processes.