The company is sponsoring research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which aims to eliminate or drastically reduce the use of precious metals in electrolyzers. Electrolyzers currently rely on rare earth materials such as iridium and platinum. These materials often account for nearly 50% of the cost of electrolyzers.
In 2021, the program developed a non-precious metal-based catalyst with significant improvement of oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in acidic conditions for proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers. Researchers then improved the catalyst performance by modifying the structure and optimizing loading conditions. Most recently, application of a unique surface engineering technique further improved the long-term stability of the catalyst. Higher stability implies reduced operating cost of electrolyzers in the longer term.
In a parallel effort, researchers have been developing hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) catalysts for alkaline electrolyzers. Their work is focused on developing platinum based HER catalysts that use significantly less platinum, as well as a totally new type of HER catalyst that does not use platinum at all. To date, significant progress has been made on both fronts. This is in line with the company’s focus on developing OER catalysts to enable electrolyzers that cost less to manufacture and to operate.
“Prior to scaling up the process for studies with a prototype electrolyzer in late 2022, researchers will continue to explore additional improvements to both the OER and the HER catalysts to maximize the overall performance of an actual water electrolysis device,” said Dr. David Lee, CEO of NewHydrogen.