An Israeli startup H2Pro has joined the race to make green hydrogen cheaper after securing investments from funds backed by Bill Gates and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing. The company raised USD$22 million to move its technology from the lab to the factory floor.
What is Happening?
- Demand is growing for green hydrogen, which is produced by splitting water- using renewable electricity- as a potential carbon-free fuel to replace coal, oil and natural gas.
- Hydrogen has been tipped as the fuel to help decarbonise industries like steel and cement, and potentially shipping and aviation. However, until recently, hydrogen hasn’t been widely adopted because of its expense to produce.
- H2Pro’s technology is similar to the alkaline electrolysers that are most commonly used today to make green hydrogen, but with an important twist. Typically, when water is split, the current process uses electrical energy not just to break the hydrogen and oxygen atoms apart, but also to pair two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms, respectively, to make the separate gases. H2Pro reduces this energy use by splitting the step in two. First, it creates hydrogen at the electrolyser’s cathode. The chemical reaction also changes the composition of its nickel-based anode. The cell is then flooded with a hot liquid, which helps the anode release oxygen gas with the help of thermal energy instead of electrical power, before the first step can be performed again.
- The startup hopes that using this technology will enable it to make green hydrogen for $1 per kilogram by the second half of this decade- far cheaper than Bloomberg analysis which doesn’t expect the price to go that low until 2050. In 2019, a kilogram of green hydrogen cost $2.50 to $6.80.
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- Currently, H2Pro is able to produce about 100 grams of hydrogen a day, but it expects to soon produce 1 kg a day. The money it has raised will go toward further research and development to make commercial scale electrolysers.
- H2Pro is also planning its first factory in Israel that should be able to produce 100s of megawatts of capacity from 2023, with the potential for additional factories being built in other countries.
- The company has a long way to go- current pilot projects under construction will be able to produce thousands of kilograms per day.
- The green hydrogen industry is expected to bring as much as 470 billion euros by 2050 in government funding and private investment, according to estimates from the EU.