Smoltek makes operational update to its hydrogen business area

Source: press release, 20 September 2022

Ellinor Ehrnberg, President of Smoltek Hydrogen AB
Ellinor Ehrnberg, President of Smoltek Hydrogen AB (photo: Smoltek Nanotech Holding AB)

Smoltek Nanotech Holding AB has made an operational update to its hydrogen business area, which has made significant progress within the development of its cell material for electrolysers. Moreover, this business area has initiated a collaborative agreement with a global manufacturer of material for electrolysers.

Within the Hydrogen business area, Smoltek intends to develop a high-performance cell material for electrolysers, which is a system that uses renewable electricity to split water into oxygen and fossil-free hydrogen. Smoltek’s carbon nanofiber-based cell material is intended to be included on the anode side of the cell stack in PEM electrolysers – a market that is growing exponentially due to the huge investments that are now being made worldwide to enable the production of green hydrogen. For example, Global Market Insights Inc* estimates that the market for electrolysers will be valued at around SEK 650 billion globally in 2030.

The three-dimensional structure of the cell material increases the current density to such an extent that the electrolyser size can be reduced by up to a factor of three, while the usage of the expensive material iridium can be reduced by over 80%. Together, this makes it significantly cheaper to build new hydrogen plants, which is crucial for the rapid growth of what is being called the new green hydrogen economy.

“We are looking forward to a very exciting autumn. The results of the two ongoing demonstration projects and our new competent employees are critical milestones for the development of prototypes, pilot plants and customer projects. Additionally, it is really inspiring to see increasing validation of the booming hydrogen economy and how large it will become. Country after country surpasses each other in the enormous sums that they are investing in the hydrogen expansion. The lack of natural gas is pushing things even further in this direction,” says Ellinor Ehrnberg, President of Smoltek Innovation.

During the autumn, several recruitments will have been carried out in this business area to strengthen the organisation with a number of key positions. A very central recruitment is Jaime S. Sanchez, PhD, who will join the team in October as Senior Corrosion and Catalyst Scientist. He comes most recently from the IMDEA Energy Institute in Madrid and is an international expert in the field, having previously conducted his post-doc work at Chalmers. Already during the summer, two internal recruitments were carried out: Qi Li, PhD, as R&D Project Manager and Xin Wen, PhD, as Nanotechnology Scientist. Furthermore, Bastien Penninckx, from the University of Montpellier, has been recruited as a laboratory engineer.

In May, a collaboration agreement was signed with a large international manufacturer of input material for electrolysers. The collaboration encompasses the joint construction of a PEM electrolyser cell demonstrator, to show that the performance is significantly improved with carbon nanofibers compared to not using them. The company expects to have the first results ready already during the fall of 2022, while the long-term tests will take longer to complete.

In parallel with this, additional demonstrators are being built to evaluate production concepts for carbon machines, alternative technologies for corrosion protection and methods for applying catalyst particles. A handful of external companies and research groups are involved in these projects. In addition to building entire cells for measurement of performance, test pieces will also be evaluated by a number of commercial players in the electrolyser industry. An important goal for these evaluations and collaborations is to reach an agreement on taking the next step – which is to build prototypes together.