With the German company Schaeffler, Johnson Matthey from England and the Belgian company Bekaert, Dutch TNO will work on a step-change in efficiency to be used within electrolysis. The goal is to drive forward next generation technologies to reduce the levelised cost of renewable hydrogen production and improve component efficiency.

Renewable hydrogen will play a role in all net zero scenarios and is critical in decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors. Electrolysis is the technology used to produce renewable hydrogen with water and power from renewables, and is therefore a key enabling technology for zero emission energy.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) 1.5°C scenario forecasts approximately 5000 GW of electrolyser capacity in 2050, which will enable sufficient hydrogen to meet twelve per cent of total energy demand globally. But to ensure this happens, technology innovation and accelerated adoption are crucial.

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Next generation of PEM electrolysers

The consortium’s goal is to accelerate Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology development, by optimising the most important components of the electrolyser stack. This will ultimately support the development of the next generation of PEM electrolysers, enabling lower electricity consumption, cheaper hydrogen production and smaller footprint.

The team will also investigate more efficient use of scarce critical elements and components, which offer increased efficiency over today’s electrolysers.

To achieve this, the partners will collaborate in a shared research programme that will run for the next three years and lay the foundation for a highly efficient, durable and lower cost generation of electrolysers. This is part of the VoltaChem program, a business-driven Shared Innovation Programme that supports the chemical industry, the energy sector, and equipment suppliers & licensors to move towards a climate neutral future.

‘Green hydrogen is a truly carbon neutral solution and here we have the opportunity to drive the innovation, which will make hydrogen more affordable and reliable,’ says Ralph Calmes, managing director Hydrogen Technologies at Johnson Matthey. ‘The collaboration envisaged by this consortium aims to accelerate not just in the area where JM is focused, but of PEM technology as a whole.’

The research programme is open to new participants.

Picture: PEM short stack: polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells — an electrochemical exchange of the reactant gases hydrogen and oxygen produces electricity.

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