Electrolysis is the core technology driving the green hydrogen revolution. This process is key to producing green hydrogen, which is expected to significantly reduce emissions in sectors like transportation and manufacturing.
Innovations in Water Electrolysis
Recent research has focused on enhancing the efficiency of water electrolysis, a critical process for green hydrogen production. For example, advancements in catalyst design are being pursued to improve the electrochemical active surface area of electrocatalysts. This enhancement is not just about developing new catalysts but also involves selecting materials that can synergistically work together when alloyed with other metals.
The HighHy Project: Advancing AEM Electrolysis
The HighHy project, a collaborative effort between Germany and New Zealand, is spearheading the development of anion exchange membrane (AEM) electrolysis. This project aims to introduce AEM electrolysis to large-scale industry using cost-effective and resource-efficient metals like manganese and nickel. AEM electrolysis merges the benefits of alkaline electrolysis (AEL) and proton exchange membrane electrolysis (PEM-EL), offering high performance, adaptability, and gas purity. However, a significant challenge has been the slow oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in AEM electrolysis when non-precious metals are used, leading to high energy requirements for hydrogen production.
The HighHy project intends to overcome this by developing efficient OER catalysts using a novel nickel-manganese compound. This compound is not only cost-effective but also chemically active. The project explores various synthesis methods, compositions, and coatings to optimize these catalysts. The goal is to reduce the electrical energy needed for oxygen generation, thereby increasing the efficiency of AEM electrolysis.
Industrial Potential of AEM Electrolysis
AEM electrolysis is poised to be a key player in the hydrogen industry. The EU has set targets for this technology to achieve about 48 kilowatt-hours per kilogram of hydrogen by 2030, aiming for an efficiency of around 80%, similar to existing AEL and PEM-EL processes. Moreover, AEM-EL is expected to offer greater flexibility and significantly lower material costs. The anticipated cost of AEM electrolysis systems is around 300 euros per installed kilowatt, considerably lower than the costs for PEM-EL and traditional alkaline electrolysis.
Collaboration and Funding
The HighHy project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, involves a partnership between the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM, the University of Bayreuth, and New Zealand universities. With a budget of 1.2 million euros, the project also supports other initiatives like NZMat4H2Sto (hydrogen storage) and HINT (production and integration of green hydrogen).
World Economic Forum – Guide to Electrolysis: The Tech Behind the Green Hydrogen Revolution
ScienceDaily – New Approach to Water Electrolysis for Green Hydrogen
Fraunhofer Institute – Economical and Resource-Saving Green Hydrogen