Membranes significantly increase the complexity of electrolyzers leading to high manufacturing costs. PEM electrolyzers require precious metals further increasing cost. External compressors required due to low hydrogen pressure and cooling required due to heat generated by the inefficient process add to the equipment cost.
Modern electrolysis reaches 60-70% efficiency. This low efficiency significantly increases the cost of green hydrogen.
In electrolysis, hydrogen and oxygen are produced at the same time, potentially creating a very dangerous and highly explosive mix.
Hydrogen is the ideal energy carrier for a decarbonized world. When hydrogen is burned, no CO₂ is emitted.
However, the vast majority of hydrogen production today is via fossil-fuel intensive processes which release vast amounts of CO₂ defeating the promise of decarbonizing the world.
Today, hydrogen has many applications in industry, and more than 70 million tons are consumed every year. As important as hydrogen is today, hydrogen is an essential ingredient in decarbonizing large segments of the economy.
Extracting hydrogen from water is also possible. This process is known as electrolysis and requires electricity. If the source of the electricity is renewable, then this process releases no CO₂. This is known as “green hydrogen”.
Unfortunately, water electrolysis is inefficient and requires large capital investments making it non-competitive with fossil fuel extraction methods.
H2Pro’s mission is to introduce a game changing water splitting technology that is cost competitive with fossil fuels.
Full transition to renewable energy requires that we store energy when we have it so that we can use it when we need it. For example, storing solar energy during the day for use at night, or even from summer to winter.
Hydrogen can be used to store solar and wind energy and convert it into electricity when needed.
There are other ways to store energy, such as batteries. However, increasing storage capacity with batteries requires additional batteries (at a cost of ~$200/kWh), while increasing storage capacity with hydrogen, requires additional tanks (at a cost of ~$2/kWh).
Uses of Hydrogen
Hydrogen vehicles convert hydrogen to electrical energy (in an emissions-free process) and use it to power electric motors. Essentially, they are like battery electric vehicles, but instead of carrying a battery, they have a hydrogen tank.
Since 1kg of hydrogen contains roughly as much energy as a 100kg battery, hydrogen vehicles (also known as Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, or FCEV) have a much better range and can be refueled in minutes, rather than hours.
This makes hydrogen an ideal fuel not just for cars, but also for trucks, busses, trains, ships and airplanes.
Challenges of electrolysis
Water electrolysis is not new:
it was discovered in 1789 and has been used in commercial applications for over a century. Despite the progress that has been made over the years in improving this centuries-old technology, it still suffers from significant drawbacks that prevent its wide adoption:
Green hydrogen can replace gray and black hydrogen in chemical industries such as ammonia production that use hydrogen as a feedstock. In addition, it can replace coal in steel production and natural gas for industrial heating.