Recently we had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Ionomr’s leadership. During our talk we learned about the deep impact and importance that the materials and solutions being developed by Ionomr are having to propel the global hydrogen economy forward.
The modern world has had an unprecedented economic development thanks to the availability of cheap energy from fossil fuels. However, fossil fuels have caused an environmental crisis due to large carbon emissions. Today, more and more countries are showing their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by diversifying their energy portfolio with renewable energy and low-carbon fuels. However, the main challenge to adopt and deploy new energy vectors such as hydrogen is primarily economic. For countries to adopt hydrogen as part of their energy mix, it is required that hydrogen production costs become competitive. This can only be achieved by government regulatory support, technological innovations and economies of scale. Ionomr solutions reduce the cost of hydrogen production and fuel cell applications, supporting the development of a hydrogen economy.
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Ionomr is an innovative company providing solutions to enable a step change in the economics of water electrolysis for hydrogen production and fuel cells.
Their efforts were recently recognized at the F-Cell, the world’s leading hydrogen and fuel cell conference in Stuttgart, Germany, where they took home the Top Award, Products & Markets.
Ionomr trademarked products, AemionTM and PemionTM, are at the core of all electrochemical applications necessary to produce hydrogen or use in fuel cells. Ionomr is innovating by creating solutions that reduce the capital expenditure (CapEx) necessary to produce green hydrogen via water electrolysis and the cost of fuel cells applications.
FuelCellsWorks.com met with Bill Haberlin, CEO & Director and Benjamin Britton, Chief Strategy Officer, Director and Co-founder of Ionomr, to learn more about the fascinating solutions Ionomr is creating for clean fuels and its vision to contribute to the development of a hydrogen economy.
Can you explain, in your own words, what the hydrogen economy is today and where Ionomr fits in the global marketplace?
We are in early hydrogen economy days. People are realizing that hydrogen is the only energy vector or medium to decarbonize our economies and abate GHG emissions. Ionomr solutions enable a step change in the economics of water electrolysis for hydrogen production and fuel cells.
Where does Ionomr fit in the global hydrogen marketplace?
Ionomr materials reduce the total capital expenditure for hydrogen production by significantly reducing the footprint of the hydrogen generation installations. Imagine multi football-field sized hydrogen-production installations reduced significantly due to materials innovation.
We are also enabling advancements for fuel cells; which is the most efficient use of hydrogen for transportation, and also in stationary applications for the cogeneration of heat and electricity.
Which products does Ionomr currently develop and manufacture?
We are trademarked with two brand names: AemionTM for the electrolyzer marketplace for hydrogen production and PemionTM for fuel cells applications. We believe our PemionTM offers a significant improvement in terms of efficiency and durability over the existing incumbent materials that have been in the marketplace for the past 50 years. With AemionTM we are unlocking alkaline anion exchange membranes (AEM) electrolyzers which today that have not been able to scale due to a lack of a breakthrough material necessary to drive the technology.
“We are very proud of what we’ve achieved in what we’re bringing to the marketplace today and we are in the point of bringing Ionomr solutions to mass production for everyone”.
Ionomr recently won the top award for Products & Markets at F-Cell, the world’s leading hydrogen and fuel cell conference in Stuttgart, Germany. Which factors contributed to Ionomr receiving such a prestigious award?
Our materials are a step change to address the durability of fuel cells and address design limitations of existing systems such as operating temperatures.
What are the advantages of your product AemionTM when compared to traditional anion-exchange membranes?
Anion-exchange materials have been around for a very long time in industrial process technologies, but they never existed in caustic conditions because caustic breaks down all polymer materials quite rapidly when they are functionalized. Our materials are the first caustic, stable anion-exchange materials really designed to transport hydroxide. We have achieved not just mitigated degradation, which was really the majority of focus in the field, but true indefinite stability.
Lowering the costs to produce renewable hydrogen is crucial for hydrogen to become a competitive fuel in the market. How does your product contribute to reducing the costs of hydrogen production?
We can reduce the overall footprint required to produce hydrogen. Our materials provide a lower capital expenditure (CapEx) and operational expenditure (OpEx) for the production of hydrogen. When used in conjunction with renewable energy sources, we have the ability to match the peaks and the valleys on the demand of production of that renewable energy. So we have faster uptime, faster downtime on the AEM electrolyzers systems. Ionomr materials are more efficient and provide higher durability and lifetime, which means the operational costs of producing hydrogen overtime come down.
What does the capex and option reduction entails in as far of a percentage?
An estimated 50% reduction in CapEx at equal efficiency compared to traditional electrolyzers can be expected. However, the most advanced applications of our materials can produce more than 10 times and up to 50 times the amount of hydrogen at actually greater efficiencies that are achieved in alkaline systems today, so this reduces the installation footprint substantially.
On top of that, we enable production at pressure, which is the second major limitation of traditional alkaline systems. That could be up to 25% of the cost of a full installation. So the overall cost reduction could be 70% or more.
What are proton-exchange membranes and why are they important for the development of a hydrogen economy?
Proton-exchange membranes (PEM) are at the heart of fuel cells. PEM electrolyzers are really critical to the heart of the hydrogen economy.
You have developed the revolutionary product PemionTM, can you tell us what the environmental advantages of PemionTM’s technology are?
With PemionTM we contribute to the scaling of a green economy with materials that allow for complete recovery of precious metals contained in PEM systems without environmentally damaging processes. This is a real game changer for the economics of fuel cells that hasn’t been realised in previous models. We can eliminate pollution at the source, which, as every environmental chemist will tell you, is what you need to do.
How is Ionomr contributing to the development of a sustainable hydrogen economy?
Ionomr sits at the heart of the hydrogen economy. Our job is to provide core material sets to enable the systems to be developed by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) necessary to produce hydrogen and to use hydrogen.
“We develop solutions necessary to drive down the cost of hydrogen production and use of hydrogen.”
How does Ionomr see energy diversification and the future of energy?
Energy diversification is always difficult, and energy transitions take time. We are in the early days now and countries like Japan and Germany are adopting very robust plans to drive the hydrogen economy. We need a few visionaries that are going to adopt and drive major projects. We are hopeful that we are going to see more and more of large projects globally to drive this energy transition and make hydrogen the fossil fuel of this century.
The world is waking up to the fact that we must fight global climate change, and hydrogen is at the source point to be able to address climate challenges. Hydrogen is the most prevalent element in the universe. We have underutilized it over time and underdeveloped it. Now technology has converged to the point that we can exploit the benefits of hydrogen and decarbonize the planet.
“Hydrogen is sustainable, renewable, and it’s abundant without any carbon emissions. So I think lots of upside as the world sees the wonders of hydrogen.”
What is the biggest challenge that Ionomr is currently looking to solve?
The biggest challenge ahead of Ionomr is the global adoption of hydrogen as the major source of, or as a large component of the future energy of the globe.
How do you see the world’s hydrogen economy developing over the next 5 years?
Well, five years is a long time, and especially as we sit in the middle of this global pandemic. Our vision is that we will have more electrolyzers deployed. We will start to see heavy duty trucking rolling out with hydrogen powered vehicles. We will start to see more fuel cell passenger vehicles. We will see more governments globally implementing policies and incentives to drive the adoption of hydrogen. With our customers, we are going to start to see large scale pilot plants or early commercialization of hydrogen production. In that period of time, we have platforms and fuel cell applications that will start to go to mass production. So we’re hopeful and optimistic that the buzz and sizzle that is in the industry right now in terms of hydrogen acceptance or at least hydrogen visibility continues to explode and that in five years time, most of the general population will understand what hydrogen is and why hydrogen is critical to our future.
Where do you see Ionomr being in 5 years’ time, what does the future hold?
In five years’ time our goal is to have 100 or so employees with a revenue of $75 million. We should be in mass production with fuel cells and electrolyzers and carbon capture and utilization applications. Ionomr is going to continue to develop our products sets to drive even more efficient production of hydrogen and provide materials for fuel cell applications that drive longer life cycles to get us into a place where hydrogen vehicles are significantly lower cost of internal combustion engines today.
Featured in this Talk
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Strategy Officer
We thoroughly enjoyed our time with visionaries such as Bill and Benjamin, and thank them for taking the time to share all the developments and excitement that Ionomr is generating throughout the industry.
For more information related to Ionomr, their products and solutions, you can visit their website at: https://ionomr.com/
Reporting for FuelCellsWorks – Magnolia Tovar Chacon and Alex Labarces
Magnolia Tovar Chacon, Lead Contributor
Magnolia Tovar is a Chemical Engineer with 18 years of experience in the energy sector in more than 20 countries. She has extensive experience in consulting, business development and management of large consulting projects and is also a certified Ontological Coach.
Magnolia has a passion for creating awareness about renewable energy and the development of a hydrogen global economy.