Platinum and iridium are currently essential components of electrocatalysts for the generation of green hydrogen by means of proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis. Iridium, however, is one of the scarcest platinum group metals (PGMs) and its limited availability is a potential constraint on the future widespread adoption of PGM PEM electrolysers. Reducing iridium loadings in PEM electrocatalysts is key to ensuring a sustainable hydrogen ecosystem, enabling PEM technology to be cost competitive to make triple-digit giga-watt-scale a reality within the next decade.
Technologies that reduce or replace iridium with, for example, ruthenium, offer significant potential. The partners aim to develop a new, robust solution based on looking at the substitution of iridium with other metals, as well as developing more sophisticated metal oxide structures.
“With our mutual know-how and resources, we are confident to develop novel solutions that will further strengthen the role of PEM electrolysis in the hydrogen economy,” said Dr. Philipp Walter, Executive Vice President New Business Development at Heraeus Precious Metals. “Without cost effective PEM electrolysis the targets for the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy cannot be achieved. We are ready to invest into a sustainable raw material strategy to make it happen.”
Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater, added: “Our objective is to ensure our metals, including PGMs play a vital role in unlocking the future green economy, including hydrogen. The partnership with Heraeus and the investment in the successful development and commercialisation of catalysts for PEM electrolysers will enable another aspect of a greener future.”
The project will be equally funded by the parties over a three-year period. The results will be mutually commercialized, and the parties will cooperate on communication and marketing of the novel catalyst.