As hydrogen gains momentum as an important tool to address climate change, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has announced it will partner with H2U Technologies, Inc. to conduct demonstration testing of a new, less expensive type of PEM electrolyser, a device that produces green hydrogen from water and renewable electricity. According to early analysis by H2U Technologies, the cost target of the new technology is half that of current PEM electrolysers and total cost of ownership over its life is expected to be 75% less. The announcement follows SoCalGas’ recent commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in its operations and delivery of energy by 2045 and to invest in initiatives to decarbonise, diversify, and digitalise its business.
Electrolysers use electricity to split water into its components – oxygen and hydrogen. When renewable electricity is used in this process no carbon dioxide emissions are created. This green hydrogen can then be used for clean transportation or industrial applications or blended with natural gas to lower the carbon content of the fuel. Green hydrogen offers the ability to store renewable electricity across months and seasons, an advantage over battery storage.
H2U Technology’s new electrolyser, called the Gramme 50, is designed to be built in 200 kilowatt blocks that can be stacked to produce as much as 80 kilograms of green hydrogen a day, which could power up to 80 homes per day in a microgrid. The blocks can be manufactured in large numbers and added at any time to match hydrogen demand. SoCalGas’ research with H2U Technologies will also include validation studies on the performance of new non-precious metal catalysts, materials used in very small quantities to initiate and accelerate the chemical process of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. In addition, the proposed research will include testing methods and materials that could reduce production costs and rapidly advance scale-up of manufacturing.
“Innovations that make green hydrogen production more cost-effective and scalable are critical to providing clean, safe and reliable energy for the nearly 22 million Californians we serve while reaching our net-zero emissions goal,” says Neil Navin, SoCalGas vice president of clean energy innovations. “Partnering with H2U Technologies will provide meaningful advancements that aim to move this important technology forward.”
“Renewable electricity production is expected to grow exponentially in California in the next two decades, so the ability to store it by producing green hydrogen will be crucial,” says Jim Disanto, H2U Technologies board chairman. “We’re excited to advance our electrolyser technologies and new catalysts with the help of SoCalGas. It will be of great benefit to Californians and all of society.”
“The massive cost reduction potential H2U’s technology offers will further accelerate the scaled production and use of green hydrogen that’s already underway” says Janice Lin, founder and president of the Green Hydrogen Coalition. “This is good news for our planet and for our economy – as we will be able to more quickly achieve multi-sectoral deep decarbonisation and new investment and job creation opportunities concurrently.”
SoCalGas’ work with H2U Technologies is part of the utility’s Research, Development and Demonstration program, which collaborates with industry experts to identify, develop, test, and commercialise transformational new energy technologies designed to save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, maintain energy affordability, and advance the safety and reliability of California’s energy delivery systems.