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European project on PEM electrolysers coupled to renewable energy sources

A European consortium is launching a three-year project to develop cost-effective components for proton-exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers. It will also develop the supply chain for commercialisation in residential applications in combination with renewable power sources.

The overall objective of the ELECTROHYPEM project is to develop cost-effective components with enhanced activity and stability, in order to reduce stack and system costs and improve efficiency, performance, and durability.

This will contribute to the roadmap for achieving a wide-scale, decentralised hydrogen production infrastructure.

At present the active materials in electrolysers contribute to about 70% of stack costs, so the project is focused on low-cost electrocatalysts, electrodes with low noble metal loadings, and membrane development.

In particular, the project will develop PEM electrolysers based on such innovative components for residential applications in the context of integration with renewable power sources. This requires a 1 Nm3/h hydrogen production rate with an equivalent energy consumption lower than 4 kWh/Nm3.

The ELECTROHYPEM project is being funded under the EU Seventh Framework Programme through the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Technology Initiative (now the Joint Undertaking), which is providing €1.35 million (US$1.7 million) of the total €2.84 million ($3.5 million) programme budget.

The project will be managed by the Italian National Research Council’s Institute for Advanced Energy Technologies (CNR-ITAE), in collaboration with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) Institute for Energy and Transport in the Netherlands, the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), UK-based ITM Power, and two Italian companies, Solvay Specialty Polymers and TRE SpA Tozzi Renewable Energy.

ITM Power’s main role in the project is to further develop its hydrocarbon PEM electrolyser membranes, and evaluate the performance and durability of membrane-electrode assemblies (MEAs) developed in the project. It will also assess approaches to low noble metal loadings.

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Energy infrastructure  •  Energy storage including Fuel cells  •  Green building