Swedish nanotech company, Smoltek Nanotech Holding AB, has recently announced very successful test results for the company’s cell material for electrolyzers, which could bring a breakthrough for fossil-free hydrogen production.
The company has developed a unique nanostructure for the cell material, which enables the production of hydrogen with minimal consumption of the rare precious metal iridium. The technology has been tested by a prominent German technical institute, which verified that the prototypes with only 0.5 mg of iridium per square centimeter produce as much hydrogen as a standard material with 2.5 mg of iridium per square centimeter.
The reduced consumption of iridium per electrolyzer will significantly lower the cost of electrolyzers, which are essential for producing fossil-free hydrogen. The current high cost of iridium, which is up to SEK 2 million per kilogram, is a significant barrier for scaling up the production of hydrogen. The new cell material developed by Smoltek Hydrogen could help enable global scale-up of proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers, which are widely considered the most efficient and environmentally friendly method for producing hydrogen.
“This is an incredibly pleasing result for us. Already today, the iridium price is up to SEK 2 million per kilogram and is expected to rise to SEK 8-10 million per kilogram before the end of the decade. This shows that our concept is extremely strong”, says Ellinor Ehrnberg, President of Smoltek Hydrogen.
The technology is developed by the group company Smoltek Hydrogen in collaboration with a large industrial manufacturer of input materials for electrolyzers. The initial long-term tests have also yielded positive results, where Smoltek’s prototypes have passed a 1,000-hour test without degrading. It shows that the corrosion-resistant coating prevents the carbon nanofibers from breaking down in the highly corrosive environment of the anode side where the water maintains a pH value of 0.
The next development step is to start tuning various technical parameters to get closer to the goal of only needing 0.1 mg iridium per square centimeter. This means that Smoltek Hydrogen’s sub-goal of getting down to 0.2 mg of iridium per square centimeter is within reach. The company aims to make the electrolyzers more cost-efficient and accessible, enabling a clean and sustainable future.
Overall, the development of the innovative cell material is a significant achievement in the field of hydrogen production, as it offers a sustainable solution for reducing the cost and reliance on iridium in the manufacturing process. With the potential to enable global scale-up of PEM electrolyzers, the technology developed by Smoltek Hydrogen could have a profound impact on the transition towards a cleaner and greener future.