Green hydrogen is currently enjoying unprecedented political and business momentum, with the number of policies and projects around the world expanding rapidly. Alkaline water electrolysis (AWE), as the most mature technology for producing green hydrogen, has been increasingly attracting interest from decision makers in industries where large-scale green hydrogen generators need to be deployed. Compared to other green hydrogen producing technologies, AWE delivers cheap green hydrogen without sacrificing the durability and efficiency, yet there is still a gap to be filled in order to reach the Nel 1.5 USD/kg hydrogen target. This requires that the capital expense (CAPEX) needs to be further reduced without the cost of increased operating expense (OPEX), indicating a necessity to develop new materials and production methods. Being a critical element in the AWE, Nickel has experienced a steady price increase since 2016, mostly due to the increasing demand from the battery industry. Therefore, to reduce the Nickel usage in AWE while maintain the performance and durability, is important to hold or even increase the competitiveness of the products from Nel.
In this project, fundamental research will be closely related to industrial applications between NTNU and Nel. First, a new method will be developed to better electrodeposit Nickel on electrode substrates. The aim is to form a required Nickel layer that can offer similar level of performance and stability but consumes at least 50 % less of the raw Nickel materials. Afterwards, with the experience gained from previous research, a new catalyst layer with less or without Ni will be developed and deposited. We believe this project can help Nel to strengthen its competence and facilitate the process of reaching its 1.5 USD/kg green hydrogen target.
The demand for hydrogen production facilities will be soaring as GW plants are being planned and deployed. The availability of critical raw materials to supply this market will therefore be a key issue. Nickel is a particularly critical element, being pivotal both in alkaline water electrolysis and modern batteries for traction. Research that directs ways to minimize its use without compromising performance is therefore critical to the green transition. The companies that realize this will have a significant benefit going forward. The current project will secure Nel Hydrogen to stay competitive as resources are being stretched.