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Hydrogen has proven to be a key to storing renewable energy and making heavy industry carbon-free. But there is a catch. The hydrogen is produced by electrolysis. Conventional alkaline electrolysis has poor efficiency. And the much more high-performing polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis requires rare earth metals. This is where Smoltek’s technology comes in. Our solution, presented in this whitepaper, makes the electrodes in PEM electrolysis up to three times more efficient while reducing the amount of precious metal needed.
The intermittent nature of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power creates a demand for solutions to store surplus electricity produced on sunny or windy days for later use. One method of storing surplus electricity is to convert it into hydrogen by electrolysis of water. Fuel cells can then convert the hydrogen back into electricity. The production of hydrogen by electrolysis of water with fossil electricity is also vital for reducing the carbon footprint of industries such as steel and cement manufacturing.
The demand for large-scale energy storage solutions and the industry’s need for hydrogen create a demand for water electrolyzer technology.
But convectional electrolyzers have issues with both corrosive electrolytes and poor efficiency.
There are more modern electrolyzers that are both clean and highly efficient. But they have their own issues; their electrodes must be coated with the scarce and precious metals platinum and iridium. For comparison, gold is 40 times more abundant in the Earth’s crust than iridium. The annual production is just three tonnes.
This is where Smoltek’s technology comes in.
Smoltek’s technology allows particles of the rare and precious metals to be placed at the tip of carbon nanofibers, which in turn are placed in a way that maximizes exposure. In this way, the electrodes can be made up to three times more efficient while reducing the amount of precious metal needed. This, in turn, can lead to savings of up to 30 percent for hydrogen production plants.
Read more in the whitepaper!