Hanau–Heraeus today announced the launch of a cost-effective and efficient catalyst for PEM electrolysis.
The new Heraeus catalyst contains 50 to 90 percent less iridium than conventional products with up to three times higher catalyst performance. The lower precious metal content of the Heraeus product reduces costs by up to 43 percent. The cost savings make green hydrogen affordable – an important step for the successful conversion to sustainable energy sources.
With this product, Heraeus has reached a milestone for the production of green hydrogen on an industrial scale. Affordable green hydrogen is an important cornerstone for the hydrogen and climate goals of the EU Commission.
“Green hydrogen is the energy carrier of the future. The cheaper it can be produced, the better its chances of success” says Christian Gebauer, Head of Hydrogen Systems at Heraeus Precious Metals. “The global supply of the precious metal iridium is simply not sufficient to meet the EU Commission’s hydrogen targets with conventional catalysts. We are therefore very proud to be able to achieve such a low iridium content through our product development.”
The global iridium supply is about eight tons per year. A PEM electrolyser uses about one to two grams of iridium per kW electrolysis capacity. With a target of 40 GW electrolysis capacity for renewable hydrogen by 2030, 20 to 40 tons of iridium would be needed (at 20 GW of PEM electrolysis). Thus, a significant Iridium reduction down to a tenth of today’s needs is required. With the new Heraeus catalyst these goals are achievable – a sustainable solution to the resource bottleneck.
Hydrogen – a cornerstone of the European climate strategy
Electrocatalysts containing precious metals are used in Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolysis. In this process, water is split via electrical energy and applying a proton exchange membrane – the generated hydrogen serves as an energy carrier for industrial and fuel cell applications. Due to their dynamic response time, PEM electrolyzers are particularly suitable for storing excess energy from wind or hydroelectric power plants.
To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the European Commission published the hydrogen strategy for a climate-neutral Europe in April 2020. The strategy foresees the installation of at least six GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU and the production of up to one million tons of renewable hydrogen by 2024. In addition, hydrogen must become an integral part of an integrated energy system by 2030, with the strategic goal of installing at least 40 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU by 2030 and producing up to ten million tons of renewable hydrogen in the EU. According to experts, this electrolysis capacity will be covered equally by the alkali electrolysis and the PEM electrolysis in the future.