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Start of new hydrogen energy era?

Start of new hydrogen energy era?

Dec 1, 2014

At CARISMA 2014, a conference of international scientists focusing on the challenges in developing Fuel Cell Materials and Membrane Electrode Assemblies for transport and stationary applications, a research team from Hydrox Holdings Ltd today announced their revolutionary new Hydrogen production method.

This breakthrough consists of a radical newly designed electrolyser and operating system which totally eliminates the use of a membrane in the production of Hydrogen. This promises to greatly reduce the costs of producing Hydrogen in usable form.

The process of electrolysis employed in producing Hydrogen is well-established and relatively simple – by applying an electrical current across two electrodes immersed in water, Hydrogen and Oxygen are produced. In traditional practise, a membrane is then used to separate the Hydrogen and Oxygen gases produced.  The challenge in this methodology is that the membranes are expensive and are prone to breakdown and failure.

There are two predominant kinds of Electrolysers:
• Alkaline Electrolysers which are the most mature and durable technology but due to their ability to only operate effectively at low current densities they are huge in size and for this reason very costly and not ideal for residential usage. These electrolysers cannot, due to the membrane limitations, operate at high current densities and they are also not suitable for renewable energy sources with variable energy inputs
• Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Electrolysers which are very effective and compact but the requirement of Platinum-based electrodes makes its capital costs  extremely high. An additional limitation is the limited lifecycle before replacement of membranes and electrodes. PEM’s are also not suitable for renewable energy sources with variable energy inputs and its huge costs are beyond the average person

Both these systems employ membranes which not only contribute to the high costs but which also create certain resistance and ohmic drop issues across the electrodes resulting in overpotential (an increase in electricity beyond what is theoretically required for electrolysis). Membranes are also known to be brittle, cannot handle high pressures and temperatures and can lead to gas crossover.

The unique HYDROX ELECTROLYSER uses Alkaline technology but due to clever re-engineering of the electrolysis process, Hydrox‘s scientists have created an electrolyser which is simplified, robust, highly effective and which does not use any membrane nor expensive electrodes at all. Due to the total elimination of a membrane the HYDROX ELECTROLYSER is capable of achieving extremely high current densities using only inexpensive Nickel Electrodes.

The HYDROX ELECTROLYSER not only matches the performance of more expensive electrolysers, but even surpasses it as it does not suffer from the threshold limitations caused by membranes. A small HYDROX ELECTROLYSER is capable of producing large volumes of Hydrogen making it the ideal unit for renewable energy sources such as solar or wind.

Although it has been in development for some 15 years, over the last two years, the Hydrox technology has been extensively tested by DemcoTECH Engineering as well as by scientists from the North West University who confirmed the enormous potential of this ground-breaking method of Hydrogen production.  The Hydrox team is currently preparing a technical research paper with full details of the invention, for publication.

Corrie de Jager, CEO of Hydrox Holdings Ltd says: “Our team of engineers are now working towards achieving their ultimate goal – a green energy household using solar energy to obtain Hydrogen through the HYDROX ELECTROLYSER. The hydrogen will be stored in a tank and a fuel cell will not only provide electricity, but the excess Hydrogen will be able to run an electric fuel cell car.  A major benefit of this is that there will be no carbon emissions at all!”

The expected completion date is by 2015. The Hydrox technology is also ideally suited for the desalination of seawater and this project is also being investigated by the team. Future possibilities are the electrolysing of contaminated acid mine water turning dirty water into pure water.

This technology will result in an increase of sales of fuel cells which in turn will be very beneficial for the country as fuel cells use a lot of platinum. The HySa team from the University of the Western Cape recently announced the successful development of a locally produced fuel cell.

“The Hydrox Technology will change the way in which Hydrogen is made in the future. It will unlock the Hydrogen era making it more accessible and affordable. We have barely scratched the surface of the enormous potential this technology presents,” says De Jager.

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