Air Liquide, through its subsidiary ALIAD, which is dedicated to investments in technology start-ups, has made an equity investment in solid-state hydrogen storage company Hydrexia. Founded in 2006, Australia-based Hydrexia is a spin-off of the University of Queensland and is seeking to commercialize a magnesium hydride hydrogen storage technology.
Hydrogen storage in the form of magnesium hydrides is a technology that has been known since 1975, with its industrialization and commercialization being slowed down until now because of the high production cost. Hydrexia’s new alloy should make it possible for the production of fixed or mobile stocks at a competitive price compared to existing technologies, combined with a higher storage density, Air Liquide says.
Hydrexia’s magnesium hydride technology is based on an alloy which negates the need for expensive, energy intensive and difficult-to-scale, traditional ball milling. The alloys are produced using conventional casting equipment, and are therefore expected to have significant economic benefits over hydrogen storage materials produced by high energy processes.
Hydrexia’s technology is produced by conventional casting processes and milled into flakes that are tens of microns thick, orders of magnitude larger than ball milled nanoparticles. These flakes are stable in air, removing the risks associated with handling pyrophoric nanomaterials.
Hydrexia says that its material has fast and controllable kinetics and reduced activation time for the first hydriding reaction. The short activation time provides an additional reduction in production time and cost. During the activation process, the flakes break down into smaller particles.
Air Liquide intends to use the technology for industrial hydrogen markets such as glass, steel and chemicals. In concrete terms, Air Liquide could deliver hydrogen stored in the form of hydride to its customers rather than in cylinder or bulk.