Innovations In Hydrogen Electrolysis And Purification

Innovations In Hydrogen Electrolysis And Purification

GE Global Research has been awarded Popular Mechanics magazine’s 2006 Breakthrough Award for its development of an advanced hydrogen electrolyzer. The awards program, initiated last year, recognizes valuable work in science and technology that can play a critical role in improving lives, expanding knowledge and building a better future.

GE’s electrolyzer, which was developed by a research team at Global Research led by Richard Bourgeois, was recognized for its potential to make hydrogen production by water electrolysis economically feasible. The novel design makes extensive use of GE-developed materials and processes. A GE invented plastic, Noryl, replaces complex and expensive metal parts. Metal coating techniques from GE’s aircraft engine and power generation products are used to make high performance electrodes with very low processing costs.

The U.S. Department of Energy has identified electrolyzer capital costs as a major barrier to the competitiveness of hydrogen fuel for transportation. GE’s electrolyzer has the potential to bring the cost of producing hydrogen down to a level that is competitive with the current price of gasoline.

“GE’s electrolyzer represents a profound breakthrough in hydrogen energy that has the potential to greatly expand the possibilities in realizing cleaner, more affordable energy solutions, said James Meigs, Editor-in-Chief, Popular Mechanics magazine. “We were impressed as much with the technology’s potential impact as we were with the creativity of design that enabled the breakthrough itself. We applaud GE for this extraordinary achievement.”

”GE’s electrolyzer is a true breakthrough technology that could accelerate advancements toward the hydrogen economy,” Kelly Fletcher, Advanced Technology Leader, Sustainable Energy Programs, GE Global Research,” said. ”We’re thrilled that Popular Mechanics has recognized Global Research with this prestigious award. It is a great tribute to the hard work and ingenuity that our entire electrolyzer team has brought to this project.

”The core issue with producing hydrogen from electrolyzers is that the economics are not there. They are too expensive to build, so we set out in our program to attack the capital costs,” Fletcher added.

Today, producing hydrogen by water electrolysis costs at least $8 per kg including capital, energy, and operating costs. GE participated in a program with the U.S. Department of Energy that has the goal of bringing the cost to under $3. By lowering costs on the capital side, GE researchers are confident this goal can be met.

GE researchers have figured out a more cost-effective way to build it by replacing most of the metal parts in the electrolyzer stack, which is the main part of the system, with parts made of a GE invented plastic called Noryl.

GE’s Noryl can be manufactured less expensively and exhibits the properties that are needed to function in an electrolyzer. Noryl is very resistant to the strong alkaline solution, which is used as an electrolyte in the system.

Thus far, GE researchers have built and tested an electrolyzer big enough to make a kilogram of hydrogen per hour. A kilogram of hydrogen has about the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline.

Global Research, in conjunction with GE’s Nuclear business, is currently engaged in a project under the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hydrogen program to study the economic feasibility of producing hydrogen at existing commercial nuclear power plants. GE’s project is exploring the potential for producing hydrogen using GE’s low cost, advanced electrolyzer.

Electrolyzers, when coupled with wind, solar or nuclear power, produce hydrogen from water with no CO2 emissions. The global market for hydrogen is currently more than $40 billion, which includes ammonia production, refineries, chemical manufacturing and food processing. The low capital cost of the GE electrolyzer would make it competitive with other hydrogen production methods such as natural gas reforming. Within the next decade, electrolyzers could serve as the foundation for future hydrogen vehicle refueling stations.

Hy9 Corporation Keep It Pure.

A manufacturer of metal membrane hydrogen purifiers for the industrial, specialty gas and energy markets says its purifiers allow for 10-times less palladium when compared to conventionally used palladium/silver tubular purifiers. Hy9 claims its purifiers far less expensive than conventional purifier products and, ss a result, they can now be deployed in existing and new applications for the industrial gas, semiconductor, chemicals, metal processing and fuel cell markets.

”Hydrogen purifiers can now be used in applications that were not possible before, as cost-prohibitive palladium/silver tubular purifiers are neither scalable nor durable,” said Jeffrey Altman, CEO, Hy9 Corporation. ”As a result, Hy9 is expanding its line of hydrogen purifiers into the high purity, ultra-high purity (UHP) and fuel cell markets,” Altman added. Hy9 has manufactured and sold over 600 purifiers with millions of hours of global field use.


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