Speciality chemicals company Evonik has developed a novel anion exchange membrane, which it hopes will contribute to the breakthrough of electrolytic production of hydrogen.
Green hydrogen is set to play a key role in the energy transition, both as a carbon-free fuel for industry and transportation, and as a key raw material for the chemical industry.
Produced from water by electrolysis using electricity generated from renewable resources, green hydrogen is currently more expensive than conventional hydrogen, which is generally obtained from methane gas in a process that releases carbon dioxide.
As well as sufficient low-cost electricity generated from renewables, investment in the electrolyser is a key factor for cost-efficient production of green hydrogen.
The central component of the electrolyser, which has a major influence on efficiency and reliability, is an ion-conducting membrane.
“Our membrane could allow commercial realisation of highly efficient and economically viable electrolysis technology,” said Oliver Conradi, who is responsible for membrane research at Creavis, Evonik’s strategic innovation unit.
The membrane was developed by researchers at Creavis and experts from the High-Performance Polymers unit in the Membranes innovation growth field comprises a resistant polymer with improved conductivity.
Conradi continued, “The polymer chemistry behind this membrane is the key to efficient electrolysis. And we now hold that key.”
Electrolysis with AEM has clear benefits compared with other electrolytic processes such as conventional alkaline electrolysis using diaphragms (AEL) or proton exchange membrane electrolysis (PEM) which is highly dependent on raw materials such as precious metals.
The AEM concept reduces investment costs because the cells used for electrolysis in alkaline conditions do not require precious metals. Therefore, far less expensive materials can be used.
Other attributes of this AEM electrolysis platform are high current density, very good efficiency, and high flexibility.