Iridium is a critical component of proton exchange membrane (PEM) water electrolyzers, which major industry players are beginning to manufacture at large scale. However, PEM electrolyzers rely on iridium oxide catalysts, straining the supply chain of one of the rarest naturally-occurring elements on Earth. Iridium’s limited supply and high cost has stirred debate in the planning of infrastructure, such as hydrogen hubs, to meet future demand for clean hydrogen. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, current production of iridium will only support an estimated 3–7.5 GW annual manufacturing capacity for PEM electrolyzers, compared to a forecasted demand of around 100 GW by 2030. Deploying alternatives to iridium oxide is essential to support this rapid growth, reducing supply chain risk and accelerating the scaling of clean hydrogen, an essential enabler in the effort to decarbonize hard-to-abate industrial sectors.
“This work represents the most comprehensive, systematic study of the landscape of iridium alternatives that has ever been conducted,” said Dr. Andrey Ivankin, CTO and co-founder of Mattiq. “Over the prior months, we synthesized and evaluated millions of combinations of different elements for durability, efficacy and practicality for industrial applications. Work that used to take years can now be done in a fraction of that time with greater rigor than ever before.”
“Mattiq’s approach fills a major unmet need; it is important not just for the future of clean hydrogen but also for the rapid development of a wide range of chemicals on the road to electrification and decarbonization,” said Carmichael Roberts, Mattiq’s board director, co-founder and managing partner of Material Impact and investment co-lead at Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
“We are excited to work with our industrial partners to bring these alternative catalysts to market to accelerate the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis instead of from fossil fuels,” said Jeff Erhardt, CEO of Mattiq. “But our work to address the iridium challenge is only the first step in comprehensively tackling one of the economy’s hardest to abate sectors – the production of chemicals and fuels.
“We are forging rapidly ahead to develop an equally comprehensive understanding of electrochemical systems for decarbonizing the production of a broad range of chemicals, enabling the development of clean plastics, adhesives, fuels, and more,” Erhardt continued. “We look forward to announcing more of these breakthroughs and commercial partnerships in the near future.”