With our car­bon nanofibers (CNFs) fab­ri­ca­tion tech­nol­o­gy, we devel­op mate­r­i­al solu­tions for use in the hydro­gen industry.

Cur­rent­ly, we focus on improv­ing the elec­tro­chem­i­cal cell in PEM elec­trolyz­ers and fuel cells. The cell enables the con­ver­sion of elec­tric­i­ty into hydro­gen and vice ver­sa. Thus, it’s a key com­po­nent in stor­ing and trans­mit­ting renew­able ener­gy and decar­boniz­ing indus­try, trans­porta­tion, and heating.

Today’s PEM elec­trolyz­ers use cost­ly cat­a­lyst par­ti­cles which, in con­tact with the mem­brane, enable hydro­gen to be formed. These cat­a­lyst par­ti­cles are usu­al­ly irid­i­um or plat­inum. In tra­di­tion­al tech­nol­o­gy, these cat­a­lyst par­ti­cles are mixed in ink that is applied direct­ly with a mem­brane. How­ev­er, the method is inef­fi­cient as not all these cat­a­lyst par­ti­cles are in con­tact with the membrane.

Smoltek’s unique tech­nol­o­gy uses car­bon nanofibers (CNFs) as cat­a­lyst sup­port, mak­ing all the extreme­ly expen­sive irid­i­um cat­a­lysts in full con­tact with the MEA. The result is that the need for irid­i­um par­ti­cles decreas­es by 80 per­cent or more.

Anoth­er advan­tage of this new cell mate­r­i­al tech­nol­o­gy is that the elec­trolyz­er cell itself can be min­i­mized by 2–3 times.

How­ev­er, this is, of course, a trade-off. Smoltek’s new nanofiber-based elec­trolyz­er cell mate­r­i­al can either reduce the amount of cost­ly irid­i­um par­ti­cles (by more than 80 per­cent) or reduce the size of the elec­trolyz­er cell area by 2–3 times; all to enable more effi­cient CO2-free hydro­gen production.

So, do you want to reduce the amount of irid­i­um par­ti­cles (and still pro­duce the same amount of fos­sil-free hydro­gen), or do you want to reduce the size of the cell area in the elec­trolyz­er, thus get­ting a small­er and cheap­er electrolyzer?

The Smoltek elec­trolyz­er cell mate­r­i­al com­bines the anode PTL with cat­a­lyst, thus reduc­ing the MEA lay­er to just ½ MEA. As seen in the dif­fer­ent zoom-ins, the porous PTL is filled with car­bon nanofibers (CNFs) that pen­e­trate the ½ MEA, enabling all of the irid­i­um cat­a­lysts to make con­tact with the MEA.

Advantages of Smoltek’s highly efficient cell materials

Smoltek’s tech­nol­o­gy offers a solu­tion to this prob­lem. It enables the man­u­fac­ture of new and more effi­cient cell mate­ri­als for elec­trolyz­ers based on car­bon nan­otech­nol­o­gy that cre­ates a three-dimen­sion­al sur­face struc­ture on the anode side’s PTL layer.

The tech­nol­o­gy enables all cat­a­lyst par­ti­cles to come into con­tact with the mem­brane, thanks to the fact that nan­otech­nol­o­gy means that the par­ti­cles are placed direct­ly on the sur­face. There­by, the expen­sive cat­a­lyst par­ti­cles are ful­ly uti­lized; thus, the use of the expen­sive ones is reduced by at least 80 per­cent. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant as the sup­ply of, for exam­ple, irid­i­um and plat­inum are con­sid­ered crit­i­cal, i.e. the future demand for these mate­ri­als can­not be met with cer­tain­ty, and the reduced sup­ply risks lead to increased pro­duc­tion costs for green hydro­gen further.

Smoltek’s car­bon nanofiber three-dimen­sion­al sur­face struc­ture also means that the sur­face of the elec­trode (the one in con­tact with the mem­brane) is sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased. The sur­face struc­ture means that more par­ti­cles can be placed on a giv­en sur­face, which means that the elec­trolyz­er can be reduced in size by two to three times while main­tain­ing capac­i­ty. A reduced-size means, among oth­er things, small­er invest­ments and low­er main­te­nance and mate­r­i­al costs.

Learn more

Read more about our elec­trolyz­er cell mate­r­i­al tech­nol­o­gy in the whitepa­per: Intro­duc­ing Smoltek Elec­trolyz­er Tech­nol­o­gy.

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