While electrolyser systems often grab the headlines, material and coating technologies have a key role to play in enabling the scale and cost of green hydrogen required for future energy systems. 

With decades of experience in the field, TFP Hydrogen Products is developing new coatings and materials for an array of electrolyser manufacturers. Having recently been taken into the James Cropper group portfolio, H2 View caught up with Robert Musgrove, Global Commercial Director at TFP to learn more. 

It's great to be able to sit down with TFP again! For some of our readers that may not be familiar with the company, could you tell us a little more about its history, its role in hydrogen and how it fits into the James Cropper portfolio?

TFP Hydrogen Products is a leading green hydrogen technology company and electrochemical materials specialist. Our materials enable a range of sustainable technologies, including PEM water electrolysers, hydrogen fuel cells and flow batteries, with a focus on improving both lifetime and efficiency for our customers and their customers.   

The company is built on decades of knowledge and expertise in both electrochemical and nano materials, and has a strong focus on sustainability, specialising in the development of materials for the hydrogen economy. This sector is of strategic importance to James Cropper’s vision to enable a cleaner, greener future.   

We pride ourselves on being the experts in our field; developing and manufacturing high quality, specialised materials that can be designed to meet a customer’s specific needs.

Our portfolio includes coatings for electrolyser components, coated electrodes and platinum group metal catalysts, all of which are designed to add value by increasing performance, system efficiency and durability.

Why is coating technology important for PEM electrolysers and how does TFP's technology stand out compared to rivals?

Coatings can fundamentally extend the lifetime of the PEM electrolyser, ultimately reducing the cost of green hydrogen production in PEM electrolysis by increasing stack efficiency and lifetime.   

Many of our customers come to us after having trialled or used other coating technologies unsuccessfully in their PEM Electrolyser stack. Fundamentally, our products perform where other technologies fail. This is because for over 10 years, TFP Hydrogen has worked alongside PEM manufacturers to address the performance requirements of their component parts. We recognise that each of our customers has unique components, and these parts arrive with different resistances, and complexities. From individual components to pre-fabricated sub-assemblies. Additionally, we promise to work and develop alongside our customers, offering continued technical support, scalability and supply chain integration. We stand by our customers offering solutions which enable their unique electrolyser stack design, and deliver improved performance, efficiency and durability.  

What are some of the challenges in developing electrolyser materials? 

Fundamentally, the challenges that we face are multi-fold. Hydrogen energy, whilst basic electrolyser technology is decades old, is still nascent in its development. There is a great deal of support, and growth, in the sector, but for Hydrogen to really take off we need to reduce costs.  

One way of reducing costs is by extending the lifetime of the electrolyser. Our coatings have proven performance of PEM Electrolyser components for over 10,000 hours, protecting vital parts such as PTL’s, sinters and felts against oxidation and other types of degradation. This in turn increases the lifetime of the PEM electrolyser and drives down the lifetime ownership costs.  

Another challenge in the industry is the lack of standard testing methodologies. This means that every developer requires a new suite of tests to approve any new material, which slows down the validation and approval of new products. At TFP Hydrogen we are involved in a number of initiatives to proactively address this and establish a more generic testing platform. 

Does legislation restrict or support the development of the technology?

In my experience legislation can both restrict and support development. Recent funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) has accelerated the developments in green hydrogen in the US. However, in some instances, there are historical regulations, developed for very good reasons, that can make hydrogen deployment more challenging.  In the UK for instance, North Sea gas has a relatively low amount of hydrogen in it, so the standards and Wobbe Index requirements have developed using this as a baseline.  This is just one example of how legislation can hinder development, and it needs to change in order to enable growth and development in the UK.  

Green hydrogen is still an evolving industry, and it will require government support to provide incentives or business models to support deployment.  

In 2021, TFP acquired PV3 Technologies to increase its hydrogen technology portfolio. How important was the purchase of the Cornish-based company?

Prior to the purchase of PV3 (TFP Hydrogen), TFP spent 30 years developing gas diffusion layer substrate used in fuel cell technology globally, so Hydrogen wasn’t a new industry for us. Fundamentally, PV3 products fit the TFP portfolio well. As a company they are industry leaders, having developed cutting edge coating technologies.  

Additionally, this sector is of strategic importance to James Cropper’s vision to enable the energy transition to a world less reliant on fossil fuels, and the products at TFP Hydrogen extend our portfolio of solutions for the hydrogen sector and enable us to further that commitment.  

In June (2023), the company revealed it increased its US PEM production capacity, how has this moved along and is it meeting the growth demand? 

It’s an exciting time for TFP H2. We are engaging with new customers around the world and have future plans to expand our manufacturing capacity both in Europe and the United States.  In our US facility, we have the capacity to scale rapidly from our manufacturing site in New York.  This will enable more local supply to our North American customers.  

Additionally, we are launching our Modular Production Unit (MPU) at the Hydrogen Technology Conference in Bremen this September. The MPU is designed to enable rapid scalability in close proximity to customers. As the name indicates, the MPU is a modular unit which houses the TFP Hydrogen proprietary coating system and can reach full production in less than a year.  Our goal is to create supply chain efficiency for the PEM manufacturer. In addition, the MPU will be run and managed by our UK centre of excellence in Cornwall.  

We are committed to helping our customers achieve their aggressive growth targets. With increasing demand from customers, it’s necessary for us to scale our manufacturing.  It is our goal to create long standing partnerships with clients to enable their future scalability, and we are actively developing manufacturing technologies and solutions that will deliver the ambitious growth required for PEM manufacturing.  

In five years' time, what position do you hope the company will be in to support the growing hydrogen industry? What will be the company and James Cropper Future Energy's goals? 

At James Cropper Future Energy, we are dedicated to investing in and advancing state-of-the-art technologies that pave the way for a more sustainable future for the global community. 

Our aim at TFP Hydrogen Products and James Cropper Future Energy is to deliver innovative industry leading solutions to manufacturers of electrolysers worldwide. We have an aggressive innovation roadmap which will actively incorporate new advancements and material chemistries as they emerge over the coming years. As mentioned previously, we are already planning our next phase of manufacturing expansion. In the next five years, I foresee strategically situated TFP Hydrogen facilities spanning the globe, offering cutting edge solutions not only for PEM technology but also for AEM and future technologies.  

At our core, we are passionate innovators, so I am confident that James Cropper Future Energy will play an active role in facilitating future energy technology and propelling green hydrogen forward.  

Featured in H2 View September 2023 'Spotlight On: TFP Hydrogen Products.'