The energy sector is witnessing a fundamental shift away from fossil fuels and towards low-carbon alternatives. Countries around the world are aiming for zero emissions by 2050 and green hydrogen has been identified as a major enabler in securing a sustainable future. The ability to convert, store and transport energy derived from other sustainable sources, such as wind and solar power, while producing zero emissions makes green hydrogen a valuable solution in the global energy transition.
However, to make the mainstream use of green hydrogen a reality, a dedicated infrastructure needs to be in place and the technology used to generate it must demonstrate both performance and affordability. Water electrolysis is one of these technologies.
Proton exchange membrane (PEM) water electrolysers can be used both to store energy from wind turbines and solar cells (generating green hydrogen), or in localised hydrogen production to power hydrogen fuelled vehicles. The technology enables the management of high current densities from dynamic energy sources (such as wind energy), as well as generating hydrogen with the high purity that is necessary for use in fuel cells. However, in order to be competitive, PEM water electrolysers must operate at high energy efficiencies – over 80% – for long time periods. This is a target that TFP Hydrogen’s component coatings and catalyst powders can enable them to meet.
Coatings to increase efficiency and lifetime
TFP Hydrogen specialises in the manufacture and development of materials for electrochemical, low-carbon technologies, such as PEM water electrolysis. The company produces a range of cost-effective coatings for electrolyser components which are proven to increase the stack efficiency, durability and lifetime of the system, reducing the long-term cost of green hydrogen production.
These specialist coatings are formulated specifically to improve the performance and long-term durability of metal components (such as titanium porous transport layers, PTLs) in the form of foils, porous media, plates and meshes. This performance improvement is achieved through significantly reducing the component’s contact resistance and maintaining this low contact resistance over 10,000s of hours.
The coatings also help maintain this performance improvement by providing an inherent ability to withstand oxidation, corrosion and hydriding which would usually reduce stack performance in the long term. These benefits mean that the system is able to operate at the high energy efficiency necessary to be competitive over long time periods.
New catalyst launch
As well as performance enhancing component coatings, TFP Hydrogen has recently launched a new catalyst range, also designed to deliver enhanced performance of the PEM electrolyser system and proven over 10,000’s of hours. The new high efficiency anode catalysts are based on iridium (Ir) and ruthenium (Ru) and include both IrO2 and IrRuO2 formulations.
They have been designed for use in the manufacture of Catalyst Coated Membranes (CCMs) and are highly dispersible into inks for ease of use in this application. The catalysts offer a number of benefits to an electrolyser system, as well as being competitive on price; they enable the system to operate at a low voltage, improve long term durability and ensure high performance. In short, these catalysts reduce the cost of generating green hydrogen by increasing long term efficiency, and this facilitation of low-carbon technologies is fundamental to TFP Hydrogen’s philosophy.
Alongside developing these new materials, TFP Hydrogen has also invested in scaling up production in 2022. The increase in catalyst manufacturing capacity and capability enables significantly larger scale manufacture of these new materials and supply in multi-kg orders, supporting the rapid growth rate of the hydrogen sector. This is in addition to the installation of a new facility in Schenectady New York, outside of the company’s Cornwall base, which has further increased coating capacity and provided local production and support for the expanding US hydrogen market.
TFP Hydrogen aims to be a strategic partner to the OEMs in order not only to supply effective materials, now but also in the future.
The company has an aggressive Innovation Roadmap which will see improvements and new materials emerge over the coming years, and is already planning its next phase of manufacturing technology that will allow co-location with rapid start-up times, further supporting OEMs as they establish global manufacturing bases.
To conclude, there is no doubt that green hydrogen, with its Net Zero credentials, high purity and ability to be used as an energy source in a wide range of applications, is an attractive alternative energy source to advance the energy transition. The next step is to overcome the issue of affordability to make it more accessible.
There is no single solution to this and it relies on the collaboration of the industry as a whole to realise its potential. TFP Hydrogen’s materials play a significant part, by improving the performance of electrolysers that generate it and helping to reduce the final cost to consumers.
Featured in H2 View September 2022 Enabling the shift – Reducing the cost of green hydrogen (h2-view.com)