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Anglo American Platinum, Shell invest in HyET for electrochemical hydrogen compression

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), alongside Shell Technology Ventures (STV), has taken a stake in High-Yield Energy Technologies (HyET) (earlier post), a Dutch company that has developed cost-effective electrochemical hydrogen compression (EHC) technology. HyET’s technology is a reliable substitute for mechanical hydrogen compression both in existing industrial applications and in hydrogen refueling stations (HRS).

HyET’s latest compressor, the HCS-100, compresses hydrogen by forcing the gas through a platinum-based membrane to reach pressures of up to 1,000 bar (100 MPa) while ensuring its simultaneous purification. With no moving parts, the HCS-100 operates at a fraction of the cost of, and is more reliable than, current mechanical compressors.

Operating principle. An external driving current forces hydrogen conversion on the first electrode into protons, which traverse through the solid, proton-conductive membrane before being reconverted back to hydrogen gas on the opposite electrode. The hydrogen flow is reversed when the direction of the current is reversed. One electron passing via the external circuit equals one proton moving through the membrane, delivering half a hydrogen gas molecule. The membranes that block high pressure hydrogen also block other gas species from permeating. Selective hydrogen extraction is achieved from different gas mixtures containing in various ratios CH4, CO2, CO, N2, H2S. Source: HyET. Click to enlarge.

In 2017, the HyET team reported the development of new, fully aromatic hydrocarbon membrane enabling even more efficient compression trough higher throughput and minimied parasitic losses (back diffusion), thus reducing the operation cost significantly for hydrogen compression. Besides its use in the electrochemical compressor, the newly developed membrane may also have merit in other electrochemical applications, such as electrolyzers and fuel cells, the developers noted.

Highly compressed hydrogen can store a large amount of energy, much more than conventional batteries. As a comparison: a car drives approximately 100 km on 1kg of compressed hydrogen, whilst it drives a mere 1km on the energy stored in 1kg of batteries. The ability to cost-effectively and reliably compress hydrogen will play an important part in accelerating the adoption of FCEVs and other vehicles such as fuel cell powered trucks and buses.

By accelerating the commercialization of HyET’s technology, Amplat’s investment is aimed at driving demand for platinum directly and indirectly through enabling the adoption of FCEVs, which currently require platinum-based catalysts.

We support the commercialization of new applications that use our metals, particularly those that are synergistic with our business and existing portfolio companies. This investment in HyET boosts demand for our metals while simultaneously taking advantage of the accelerating roll-out of HRS and the adoption of FCEVs. Our investment in HyET adds yet another building block to our portfolio of investments aimed at increasing demand for PGMs.

—Andrew Hinkly, CEO of Anglo American Platinum’s PGM Investment Program



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Stating: you get "100km on 1kg of compressed hydrogen, whilst it drives a mere 1km on the energy stored in 1kg of batteries" is an incorrect System perspective.
The 1 km on 1 kg of batteries is true if the battery system has an energy density of 160 Watt-Hrs/kg (about right for 2018 EV battery technology today).
For a Fuel Cell EV (FCEV), you must add the weight of the Hydrogen Tank, the Fuel Cell, and the battery to equal a Battery EV.
The Toyota Mirai FCEV has an 88 kg Hydrogen TanK (5.7% storage density), a 57 kg Fuel Cell, and a 29 kg NiMH battery which equals 174 kg for 5 kg of Hydrogen. It has 502 km of range, or 502 km / 174 kg which equals 2.88 km per kg.
When a BEV has an energy density of 460 Watt-Hrs/kg there will be no difference.


When (5X) 460+ Wh/Kg battery packs ( 10X or 1000+ Wh/Kg at the cell level) by 2035+, FCs efficiency and H2 cost and storage may be reduced 10 folds or so.

Interesting to know which technology will get there first? Major changes are coming in clean lower cost H2 production and storage. Will battery development come as fast?

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