HyPoint working with BASF New Business to develop high-performance hydrogen fuel cell membranes for aviation; >3,000 W/kg
11 October 2021
HyPoint, a company developing turbo air-cooled hydrogen-fuel-cell systems for aviation and urban air mobility (earlier post), has entered into a strategic development agreement with BASF New Business GmbH (BNB), a subsidiary of chemical company BASF. The purpose of the partnership is to develop and test a new proton-conductive Celtec membrane with stronger mechanical properties that can operate at higher temperatures and a higher pressure differential, as well as related components and materials.
HyPoint’s core innovation is a new turbo air-cooling architecture. By utilizing compressed air for both cooling and oxygen supply, HyPoint reduces overall weight compared with traditional liquid cooling. HyPoint is also using a next-generation high temperature membrane (HTPEM) instead of a low temperature membrane (LTPEM), which increases the efficiency of a cooling system by at least 300%.
The new membrane-electrode assembly (MEA) technology created as a result of the new partnership is expected to improve the performance of the turbo air-cooled high-temperature proton-exchange membrane (HTPEM) fuel cell system significantly.
The membrane’s enhanced mechanical properties together with an advanced MEA design with gas diffusion electrodes will significantly reduce the MEA’s weight while increasing its durability.
The new high-performance fuel cell system is expected to achieve more than 3,000 W/kg, an increase of at least 50% over the current system, and become available to customers in mid-2024.
20kW HyPoint HTPEM single power module
BASF has substantial experience in the manufacture and development of HTPEMs, MEAs, as well as the necessary chemicals and compositions for hydrogen fuel cells. Our collaboration will yield next-generation membranes and membrane-electrode assemblies that result in a significant improvement to our system's specific power, durability, and operational temperature range. Together, these will satisfy the requirements of the air transportation market, including narrow-body aircraft. It will also enable us to increase our production volume to meet customer demand and continue to expand capacity.—Dr. Alex Ivanenko, founder and CEO of HyPoint
BASF has been manufacturing Celtec membranes and MEAs for more than 15 years. While cyclic operation, various impurities in the gas flow, and changing environmental conditions can stress the materials used in low-temperature (LTPEM) fuel cells, Celtec HTPEM MEAs allow operation at temperatures between 120 °C and 180 °C, enabling a high tolerance to impurities while simplifying temperature and water management.
HyPoint’s current flagship hydrogen fuel cell system offers at least 2,000 W/kg of specific power—more than triple the power-to-weight ratio of traditional (liquid-cooled) hydrogen fuel cells systems—and up to 1,500 Wh/kg of energy density, enabling longer-distance journeys. HyPoint’s lightweight, climate-independent, extended-lifespan system increases operational time and utilization rate while decreasing total cost of ownership by as much as 50%.
In 2020, the company won the NASA iTech Initiative in which inventive technologies were ranked based on criteria that included technical viability, benefits to humanity, and commercialization potential. The company was founded in Silicon Valley and is backed by leading venture capital firms and individual investors.
We had substantive discussion of Hypoint with links to white papers etc here:
The baseline system they are seeking to improve here is pretty darn impressive to start with, all with the major caveat of course: 'if they can pull it off'.
I can't think of a better associate than BASF though to do so.
Posted by: Davemart | 11 October 2021 at 02:12 AM
The effects of excess phosphoric acid in a Polybenzimidazole-based
high temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cell
They need to overcome this first
Posted by: SJC | 11 October 2021 at 10:47 AM
You do realize that that is a 2010 paper?
It would seem likely that everyone in the field is well aware of the potential issue, and have had a fair few years to try to sort it out.
Posted by: Davemart | 11 October 2021 at 12:12 PM
It is still a problem
Posted by: SJC | 11 October 2021 at 01:59 PM
develop and test a new proton-conductive Celtec membrane
with stronger mechanical properties
If they had solved the problem they would not need to develop a better one
The acid destroys the membrane they want to pressurize which accelerates that
Posted by: SJC | 11 October 2021 at 02:06 PM
Yeah, well, if you have any more current updates on the current state of play it would be appreciated.
Otherwise it reads rather like a critique of the problems of batteries for long range BEVs from 2010, when they might have been held to be considerable.
Posted by: Davemart | 11 October 2021 at 02:48 PM
This is a major problem with HTPEM
This is a critical path problem if they don't solve it they are stuck
Posted by: SJC | 11 October 2021 at 02:56 PM
You have highlighted one potential area of concern for HTPEMs.
Unfortunately I am not aware of any energy technologies which do not have potential areas of concern, and nor do you illuminate either the current state of play or what measures are being brought to bear to deal with them.
Here are a couple of somewhat more recent analyses which may alleviate your concerns somewhat, if read with a less than entirely negatively decided mind:
To be honest, it looks to me more as though you were looking for an excuse to dismiss the technology than even attempting any sort of even handed assessment.
You simply linked to an 11 year old issue, with no attempt at all to elucidate the current state of play, and implied dismissal of what everyone has done since in the field?
That is the way you assess technologies?
Posted by: Davemart | 11 October 2021 at 03:06 PM
If HyPoint can not get a better membrane they cannot get high power density
with longevity. Investor due diligence does this analysis up front.
Posted by: SJC | 11 October 2021 at 05:04 PM
Perhaps that is why Hypoint and others working in the field attach enormous importance to the membrane.
This is not some problem which they and others are not perfectly aware of.
If you had current information on the power density and longevity it would be rather more useful.
Posted by: Davemart | 12 October 2021 at 01:52 AM
Hypoint's white paper very specifically addresses the membrane performance specs including durability.
See page 10: 'Progress in HT membrane development' with durability and other performance specs.
They note on page 9 that until 2016 the chemical components could not meet the performance and durability, and that they now meet requirements for the air transport industry.
And the alliance with BASF is precisely to further improve the membrane.
Posted by: Davemart | 12 October 2021 at 02:07 AM
Just to clarify. Issues you described were with 2004's and 2008's gen membrane.
2016's gen membrane from BASF much more robust. And our tests confirm that (we did bunch of tests with NREL and other independed contractors).. Some of them will be published in our new version of the whitepaper soon.
You should understand... that using existing membrane brings us to 2kW/kg at SYSTEM level (stack + BoP).. which is already acceptable by market (3 paying customers in our portfolio... this is a good confirmation). A new program with BASF (their new 2021's gen membrane + our new MEA tech) can give us >3kW/kg which is important for narrow-body fix-wing planes (but actually in our models we got 4kW/kg).
I can again suggest to organize a call with my team and discuss the question.
Last time my proposal was ignored :)
Better once to listen us rather than argue in comments... :)
Let me know if you would like to do so.
CEO and Co-Founder At HyPoint
Posted by: Alex Ivanenko | 14 October 2021 at 08:38 AM