New Catalyst for Electrolysis Reduces Costs by 97% and Increases Hydrogen Production Fourfold

Hydrogen, the cleanest energy storage in the Universe, is most of the time associated with high costs, although it is extracted from water, which is the cheapest yet the most precious element to life. Extracting hydrogen from water is done through a method called electrolysis, but doing electrolysis efficiently requires the usage of catalysts such as platinum, which is very expensive.

GA-based GridShift Inc., funded by Khosla Ventures announced the discovery of a new water electrolysis technology that uses no expensive metals such as platinum. GridShift brags their technology reduces the costs with the catalysts by 97 percent, with an ounce costing just $58, as opposed to $1700 an ounce for platinum.

“Hydrogen is a critical piece of America’s future renewable energy policy,” said Robert Dopp, CEO of GridShift, Inc. “Our new water electrolysis process generates carbon neutral hydrogen that is cheaper than gasoline at a fraction of the cost and size of currently available water electrolysis hydrogen generators. We are now on the path to a truly viable hydrogen fueled future.”

The key to GridShif’s process is a new method for coating a complex three-dimensionally shaped electrode on all surfaces with a unique combination of readily available nano particles that expose the catalysts to the electrolyte for efficient water electrolysis reactions and is robust enough to withstand the rigors of electrolysis.

The result is an electrolyzer running as a full cell at 1000 milliamp per cm2 at 80% energy efficiency. GridShift is on track to reach their goal of 85% energy efficiency, which is 47 kWh/kgH2 or $2.35 per kg of H2. Overall, GridShif’s new method for hydrogen generation produces four times more hydrogen per electrode surface area than what is currently reported for commercial units today.

There are also other researchers that study the efficiency of platinum catalysts, such as Daniel Nocera from the MIT. Seeing which of these technologies will succeed will decide the price of the future hydrogen economy.

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