Hydrogen Engine Center (HEC, earlier post) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ITM Power Plc (ITM), developers of a low-cost electrolyzer technology, jointly to develop products for power-generation systems.
HEC anticipates that ITM can offer an assured supply of hydrogen using ITM’s low-cost electrolyzer technology. ITM anticipates that HEC will provide an early route to the provision of a complete system package using HEC’s proven hydrogen-fueled engine technology.
The two are exploring the combination of a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine and a low-cost electrolyzer as a means to convert intermittent, renewable energy (wind, solar) into a reliable, non-fossil energy supply.
Subject to the production of satisfactory results from the field trials, HEC and ITM will progress into detailed discussions with the intention of entering a more formal commercial arrangement.
Existing electrolyzers cost in the region of $2,000/kW and the US Department of Energy 2010 target is $300/kW for an electrolyzer stack. ITM claims that its patented technology has allowed the company to achieve cost/performance targets which in production would equate to electrolyzer stack costs as low as $164/kW.
ITM has developed a low-cost polymer membrane that demonstrate higher ionic conductivity than those currently used. The technology also offers hydration control and has the benefit of catalyst recycling. The Company announced in April 2006 that it had successfully replaced platinum catalyst of its electrolyzer with a non-platinum system which is a 1/3 of the cost of platinum.
According to ITM, the results to date support its view that in the long term the cost of power from a electrolyzer stack could drop below $100 per output kW—making hydrogen fuel cost-competitive with conventional fossil fuels.