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Charley Rattan's picture
World Hydrogen Leader , Charley Rattan Associates

UK based offshore wind & hydrogen corporate advisor and trainer; Faculty member World Hydrogen Leaders. Delivering global hydrogen and offshore wind corporate investment advice, business...

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  • Oct 24, 2022

Researchers at TNO have been the first to develop a method that will require 200 times less iridium for electrolysis.

The fact that we are reducing the required iridium by a factor of 200, while already achieving an average of one third of the performance of current electrolysers, is a technological breakthrough,' says Van der Burg. TNO researchers of the Faraday Lab in Petten, specialised in electrolysis, collaborated with colleagues from the Holst Centre in Eindhoven. TNO previously developed the spatial Atomic Layer Deposition (sALD) technology here, a method to apply extremely thin layers of functional materials to large surface areas. This technology was intended to birth the next generation of television, tablet, and smartphone displays. The research team has now also made the technology applicable to electrolysers.

Lennart van der Burg

‘The fact that we are reducing the required iridium by a factor of 200, while already achieving an average of one third of the performance of current electrolysers, is a technological breakthrough.’

Lennart van der Burg

Program and business developer TNO

Stability demonstrated

TNO has spent the last two years experimenting with the sALD technology. Researchers applied an ultrathin layer of iridium as a catalyst material on a porous transport layer of titanium, instead of on a membrane, as is presently customary. The functioning and stability of the new method has been proven after different lab tests. Little to no degradation occurred after initial stress testing. On top of this, the electrolyser’s membrane remains iridium-free, making it easier to recycle and reuse.

Scaling up necessary

Together with a group of leading industrial partners and within the Voltachem program, TNO is working on moving this promising technology from the lab to practice. For this, the method needs to be scaled up to pilot scale to demonstrate its functioning under real-life conditions.

‘We’re not there yet’, warns van der Burg. ‘We’ve shown that the technology works in the lab, but we need to continue developing it to improve its lifespan, efficiency, and our capacity to produce it at scale. Previously, TNO and several other European knowledge institutes, already requested setting demands on the use of scarce materials when carrying out large pilot projects. It should be possible to apply the technology at a large scale in 2030. In this year the European target of installed electrolysis capacity is set at 40 GW, which is by than hopefully using much smaller amounts of scarce materials.’

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Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on Oct 24, 2022

It's a good development.  Thank you.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Oct 25, 2022

The Europeans are already suffering from staggering energy costs as a direct result of stunningly poor energy policy. Irrationally leaping on the hydrogen bandwagon will only make the situation worse.

There is no need for hysterical and panicked actions in response to religious claims from the green energy. Proceed with common sense while grounded in economic reality. The planet is not going to turn into a burned out cinder.

Dancing to the tune of the obviously inept European elite political class is just plain dumb, as demonstrated by the current energy debacle in Europe.

Charley Rattan's picture
Thank Charley for the Post!
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