Differ leads search for better electrolysers

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Public-private consortium Scale, spearheaded by research institute Differ, has been awarded 1.25 million euros in NWO funding to develop a new generation of electrolysers. Unlike existing water-splitting technology, these so-called Anion Exchange Membranes (AEM) electrolysers are compatible with intermittent power supply by renewable energy sources, and use cheap and abundant materials.

Small scale AEM electrolysers are available for laboratory tests, but a lot of fundamental questions remain on design, materials and scale-up. “The limitations of these systems under conditions closer to practice are still unknown. Scale will investigate exactly that. Within Differ, we will focus on the design and development of novel electrode architectures and prototypes,” says Differ group leader Mihalis Tsampas.

The Plasma and Materials Processing group at the TU Eindhoven joined the Scale consortium to provide expertise on electrocatalyst design and engineering using atomic layer deposition (ALD) processes. “No other method offers so much freedom and control in tuning properties, such as chemical composition and morphology. Therefore, we can go beyond the design of catalysts and gain a fundamental insight in the activation mechanism,” says Adriana Creatore, lead researcher at the Plasma and Materials Processing group.

Promising findings on electrodes and AEM electrolyser designs will be probed for industrial relevancy at research institute ISPT, which hosts 250 kW electrolyser test facility. Andreas ten Cate, who heads the electrolysis program at ISPT expects that the Scale project will deliver new results and insights on AEM eletrolyser technology that are suitable for industrial partners to adopt and develop into a commercial product. “I believe there is a good chance that this will happen,” Ten Cate says.

Scale is co-funded by ISPT, Syngaschem, Vsparticle and Veco Precision. Toyota Motor Europe and the Forth institute are international cooperation partners. Fontys is also involved as a third academic partner.