Australian company Hysata says its new capillary-fed electrolyzer cell slashes that energy cost to 41.5 kWh, smashing efficiency records while also being cheaper to install and run. The company promises green hydrogen at around US$1.50 per kilogram within just a few years.
Efficiency is one of the big knocks against hydrogen as we move toward a clean energy future. It can store far more energy per weight or volume than batteries, and it supports fast refueling, making it useful in applications where batteries just don't have the energy density to compete. But where batteries are a highly efficient way to store and release energy, hydrogen seems to throw energy away at every step: electrolysis, storage and transport, conversion back into electricity through a fuel cell ... Heck, it even slowly leaks out of a metal tank.
If Hysata's new electrolyzer technology does what it says on the tin, the efficiency of the electrolysis stage will take a great leap forward, making much better use of precious clean energy. And by generating more hydrogen from a given energy supply, while reducing CAPEX and OPEX expenditures for operators, this equipment could indeed drive the price of green H2 down, perhaps to a point where it becomes competitive with dirty hydrogen, or even fossil fuels.
So how does it work? According to Hysata, it's all about bubbles. Bubbles in the electrolyte fluid are non-conducting, and they can stick to electrodes and mask them from contact with the fluids they need to touch to do their work. This is clearly a problem, since electrolyzers convert water into H2 and O2 gases.