Green Hydrogen

Production of green hydrogen much cheaper thanks to nanotechnology

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Green hydrogen is a crucial element in the energy transition. It can contribute to the sustainability of chemistry and act as an alternative to harmful fuels in shipping and heavy transport, for example. It can also be used to absorb peaks in wind and solar energy output.

Reduce manufacturing costs for hydrogen

However, the generation of green hydrogen remains more expensive than the production of gray hydrogen from natural gas. A Singaporean startup claims it has developed an invention that would dramatically cut the cost of hydrogen manufacturing.

The firm is involved in nanotechnology, which entails nanoscale tinkering with components of the so-called electrolyser, the device that produces hydrogen. Some variations of electrolysis, such as platinum and iridium, utilize scarce and, hence, valuable metals.

Doubling generation of hydrogen

SungreenH2 is preoccupied with the electrodes used to divide the water. By altering the nanostructure of the electrode, the active surface area is increased. According to the business, this allows for a doubling of hydrogen production and a 30 percent reduction in the amount of rare metals required for electrolysis.

This is excellent news since it indicates a big cost savings. Professor of future energy systems at TUDelft, Ad van Wijk, explains, “By modifying the nanostructure, the surface area is doubled.” This minimizes the cost because fewer materials are required. He doubts that they can make twice as much hydrogen. “Doubling the surface area does not immediately double hydrogen generation. You just need less stuff.”

Rare metals

The invention of SungreenH2 is applicable to all types of electrolyzers. Alkaline electrolyzers and polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzers are now the most popular forms of electrolyzers. SungreenH2’s innovation will be particularly advantageous for PEM and other materials that utilize a great deal of rare metals.

The employment of platinum and iridium as catalysts on that electrode accelerates the process. There are no such metals in alkaline electrolysers, such as the one Shell is now installing in the port of Rotterdam, according to Van Wijk. “These metals can be found in the PEM electrolyzer. This technology is somewhat newer and more costly than alkaline. “However, the benefit is that it can start and stop more quickly, which is particularly advantageous in hydrogen production directly related to wind or solar power due to the unpredictable electrical supply.”

Nanotechnology

According to Van Wijk, nanotechnology can significantly help to the cost reduction of renewable energy. “In addition to electrolyzers, batteries and solar cells.” This can be accomplished in several ways. For instance, TUDelft has a research team that places these metals molecule by molecule on the electrodes. “This can also save one hundred times as much stuff. These techniques are quite beneficial for reducing the price of sustainable technology.”

Nedim Husomanovic

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