Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Celadyne

A new nanocoating boosts hydrogen fuel cell efficiency

Agriculture & Energy

The innovative membrane could greatly improve the production and usage of hydrogen energy

Spotted: Hydrogen is considered by many to be the future of clean energy. However, while demand for hydrogen continues to increase, the technology suffers from a type of chicken-and-egg problem — demand is not yet high enough to encourage more suppliers, and there is not enough supply to stimulate greater demand. Startup Celadyne, however, may have a solution for both the chicken and the egg.

Producing and using hydrogen involves the same basic chemical reaction. An electrolyser uses electricity to split hydrogen and oxygen from water, while a fuel cell produces electricity and water from hydrogen and oxygen. In both cases, hydrogen can move across the proton-exchange membrane (PEM) that separates the two sides of the process. This causes unintentional side reactions, reducing the efficiency, durability, and safety of fuel cells and electrolysers.

Celadyne has developed a nanoparticle coating that can be applied to the PEM to limit hydrogen crossover in both of these technologies. This allows the use of thinner membranes and lowers the cost of hydrogen production to around $1 per kilogramme, a price that could allow hydrogen to become competitive with fossil fuels. By cutting hydrogen crossover by around 50 per cent, the low permeability of the coated membranes also greatly improves fuel cell efficiency.

The company recently raised $4.5 million (around €4.2 million) in an oversubscribed seed funding round led by Dynamo Ventures and Maniv with participation from EPS Ventures. The funding will be used to manufacture more of the coating and test its durability and efficiency. Celadyne has also received a Department of Energy Phase 1 grant.

Hydrogen is the subject of a number of recent innovations spotted by Springwise, including a platform for verifying whether hydrogen comes from green sources and portable hydrogen generators for use on construction sites.

Written By: Lisa Magloff




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