Fossil-free future is speeding up

A giant market for new Swedish technology

In order to enable the exten­sive elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and to replace fos­sil raw mate­ri­als in indus­try, large invest­ments are being made glob­al­ly in the pro­duc­tion, dis­tri­b­u­tion and use of com­plete­ly fos­sil-free hydro­gen, so-called green hydro­gen. In Swe­den, some atten­tion is cer­tain­ly direct­ed towards the steel indus­try’s invest­ments, but the huge inter­est in hydro­gen that we see in many oth­er coun­tries has not yet reached this point.

In Swe­den, there is a lot of talk about the Swedish steel indus­try’s invest­ments in green hydro­gen, but not much about the fact that the same is also hap­pen­ing on a large scale in Chi­na, the USA and the rest of Europe, or that the steel indus­try is just one of all future areas of use for green hydrogen.

Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of heavy trans­port is one such area, where today’s diesel-pow­ered ships, trucks and trains can run on syn­thet­ic fuels made from green hydro­gen – and where new­ly man­u­fac­tured vehi­cles have fuel cells and can be refu­eled direct­ly with hydro­gen. Anoth­er large area of indus­tri­al use is to replace today’s fos­sil hydro­gen gas (pro­duced from nat­ur­al gas) with green hydro­gen gas in the pro­duc­tion of arti­fi­cial fertiliser.

Today, large quan­ti­ties of the oil we use are pro­duced in desert areas. In order to switch to fos­sil-free ener­gy, gigan­tic solar parks are now being built to pro­duce green hydro­gen which is then shipped around the world. Pipelines and tankers already exist, and exam­ples of coun­tries with high ambi­tions for this are the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, Chi­na and the USA.

The devel­op­ment in Europe has been accel­er­at­ed by the fact that the EU allo­cat­ed large funds this spring to invest­ments in green hydro­gen, which to some extent can direct­ly replace the nat­ur­al gas that is cur­rent­ly in short sup­ply. Oth­er areas are that hydro­gen plants linked to solar and wind pow­er plants can store the excess pro­duc­tion and have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to use it as reg­u­lat­ing pow­er on days when the sun does not pen­e­trate the clouds and the wind tur­bines are dormant.

Supe­ri­or per­for­mance – an attrac­tive invest­ment
To pro­duce green hydro­gen, elec­trolyz­ers are used, which split water into hydro­gen and oxy­gen. In order for it to be pos­si­ble to scale up the pro­duc­tion of elec­trolyz­ers, the indus­try sees it as nec­es­sary to reduce the con­sump­tion of the extreme­ly expen­sive noble met­al irid­i­um by 95% – oth­er­wise the price will sky­rock­et to lev­els that make the tech­nol­o­gy unusable. 

“No one has yet suc­ceed­ed in this, but we at Smoltek expect to be able to solve this with a new cell mate­r­i­al based on car­bon nanofibers.”

Elli­nor Ehrn­berg, Pres­i­dent of Smoltek Hydrogen

The Smoltek pro­pri­etary cell mate­r­i­al (ECM) is intend­ed for the anode side of the cell in PEM elec­trolyz­ers. The mate­ri­al’s unique three-dimen­sion­al struc­ture allows the amount of very expen­sive irid­i­um par­ti­cles to be reduced by up to 95%. By pack­ing the cat­a­lyst par­ti­cles more tight­ly, a con­sid­er­able reduc­tion in the size of the elec­trolyz­er is also made possible.

A small­er and thus cheap­er elec­trolyz­er reduces the cost of build­ing a new hydro­gen plant by up to half, and also means reduced oper­at­ing and main­te­nance costs.

Giant mar­ket for green hydro­gen and elec­trolyz­ers
Hydro­gen as a fos­sil-free raw mate­r­i­al cre­ates a poten­tial­ly huge mar­ket for elec­trolyz­er man­u­fac­tur­ers, and also for Smoltek.

All over the world, a huge amount is invest­ed in this area, not least in Europe. Already today, large amounts of hydro­gen are pro­duced for sev­er­al ener­gy-inten­sive indus­tri­al sec­tors that need to switch to fos­sil-free energy. 

So far, how­ev­er, it is only just under 5 per­cent of all hydro­gen that is fos­sil-free. This means that there is a great demand for new tech­nol­o­gy to obtain more cost-effec­tive meth­ods for the pro­duc­tion of green hydrogen. 

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