Hydrogen Electrolyzer Breakthrough Gains Momentum

Hydrogen Electrolyzer Breakthrough Gains Momentum

One of the flaws in the “hydrogen economy” argument is that it takes so much more energy to make “green” hydrogen through electrolysis than the hydrogen contains. That part of the equation may have changed with a new technology from Australian company Hysata that has been getting some serious funding. On top of an initial raise of about US$10 million, they added US$40 million in late 2022 and were granted $14 million in 2023 from a government fund for advancing hydrogen technologies. They are not close to having a commercial unit in the immediate future, but they continue to make progress.

Looking at hydrogen as a way to store electrical energy, the main question has been how much energy one gets back for a unit of energy input—the round-trip efficiency. The main competitor is a battery, which, in the best case, returns 85% of the energy it stores. The round trip in the case of hydrogen is a bit more complicated. There are losses along a long chain of steps, from using the electricity to split water to compressing and shipping the hydrogen to converting it back into electricity with a fuel cell. The sum of all the losses along this chain results in only 25–35% of the original energy input being returned. The two biggest losses are in the electrolysis step and the fuel cell step. The fuel cell step is usually about 60% efficient, with some hopes of pushing that to 65%.  The electrolyzer step has been 55 to 75% efficient.  

Hyasta

Source: Hysata

As a result, the impact of what Hysata has done is not likely to make a huge difference in the competition in the auto market between battery EVs and FCEVs but instead will make “green steel” and “green chemicals” replacing those derived from petroleum much more competitive. It will also have a big impact on the economics of making carbon-neutral fuels from recaptured carbon dioxide and water, which could be a game changer in creating “drop-in” net-zero carbon fuels to displace petroleum.

What Hysata’s new technology has done is push the electrolyzer efficiency above 90%, with the possibility that it could be as high as 95%. Said another way, electrolyzers have been taking 52.5 to 71 kWh to produce a kilogram of hydrogen from water, and that kilogram contains 39.4 kWh of energy.  The Hysata technology could reduce the energy input to 41.5 kWh. Hysata has achieved this leap in efficiency by rethinking the whole setup for electrolysis. Instead of plunging electrodes into a bath of water, Hysata uses membranes to move tiny amounts of water up to the electrodes by capillary action. Apparently, eliminating the formation of bubbles at the electrodes markedly reduces the resistance in the electrolysis cell.  

Be sure to join us to discuss alternate carbon-neutral fuels at our MeetUp on November 30. Save the date.

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStart’s Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | TobinBlueTech Valley, Revrnt, River City Bank

Moss AdamsPowerSoft.biz, Greenberg Traurig, California Mobility Center

WhereEV Wins Prize at SacState

WhereEV Wins Prize at SacState

It’s pretty clear that the pace of EV charger installation is too slow right now to meet the goals the state has set. Part of the problem is the permitting process as well as the queue to get a large enough utility connection. Part of it is escalating costs. Part of it is just having enough installation capacity. This is keeping “range anxiety” top of mind for those considering buying an EV.

At the same time, there are tens of thousands of home chargers that go unused most of the time. It seems like there should be a way to marry the opportunity to the problem and get a solution. That is just what a new company called WhereEV saw and is trying to figure out how to exploit.

WhereEV Wins Prize Sac StateWhereEV recently pitched its idea at the campus-wide start-up pitch competition put on by the Carlsen Center at SacState. They won the top prize and got a check for $1500.

WhereEV is the brainchild of Joshua Maddox and Enrique Alcacer. It’s an appealing and simple idea: connect home-based chargers and EV drivers looking for that quick 25-mile shot in order to get home—and willing to part with $5-10 to get peace of mind.

That simplicity could be deceptive. It turns out that there are a lot of details. Will homeowners be scared of dealing with a random stranger at their door? Will drivers be reluctant to use this informal setup? How will they be charged? How do they know the amount is fair? What payment network can they use that is simple and does not require disclosure of bank information? Is this an opportunity, realistically, only for those with Level 2 chargers?

Josh and Enrique have some pretty good answers right now and need a place to start. They are looking to get 25 people to participate and let their location be advertised on the WhereEV app. They know there needs to be verification of both hosts and users. They know they need to cover the liabilities involved. And they need ways to ensure it is a good experience. Businesses like this survive on good reviews.

Their goal is to have hosts able to earn about $1,000 per year and return about $50 each per year to WhereEV. Want to learn more? Here is a short presentation they put together, or visit them at www.whereev.app.

 

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStart’s Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | TobinBlueTech Valley, Revrnt, River City Bank

Moss AdamsPowerSoft.biz, Greenberg Traurig, California Mobility Center

Ag Gen’s Waste-to-Animal-Feed Plan Wins Big Prize

Ag Gen’s Waste-to-Animal-Feed Plan Wins Big Prize

Ag Gen Co-Founders Rosh Ho and Amir Salehzadeh were awarded $20,000 in April for winning the Circular Economy Innovation Competition at the Sac State’s Carlsen Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The Western Placer Waste Management Authority sponsored the competition to rally innovators, researchers, or entrepreneurs looking to turn waste into repurposed value and eliminate it from landfills. There were four finalists that pitched their ideas to a five-person panel. Ag Gen’s idea of using organic material in the waste to grow protein-rich insect larvae that could be made into animal feed came out on top. Ag Gen is already using this process and selling its animal feed locally.
“We were blown away by the creativity demonstrated in these finalists,” said Eric Oddo, WPWMA Program Manager. “Additionally, their understanding and passion for supporting a local circular economy will be incredible for fostering future economic growth and environmental sustainability in our region.”
Congratulations to Rosh and Amir for persistently taking their idea to this next level.

 

Ag Gen's Waste-to-Animal-Feed Plan Wins Big Prize

Amir and Rosh are standing to the left and right of Cameron Law as the winners of the Circular Economy challenge.

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStart’s Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | TobinBlueTech Valley, Revrnt, River City Bank

Moss AdamsPowerSoft.biz, Greenberg Traurig, California Mobility Center

What Would Generative AI Programs Mean for Your Business?

What Would Generative AI Programs Mean for Your Business?

“How can generative AI programs transform your operations and create new opportunities for growth in your business and stay ahead?”

That was one of the topics we batted around last night at our Networking PowerUp at Lucid Winery on R Street next to the Fox and Goose.  The consensus was that it would affect practically everything a business does.  Clearly, we need a longer discussion on this.  

Rather than a panel discussion on a particular topic, last night we figured it was time for primarily a social event.  And it did have an innovation theme.  Lucid Winery is pioneering a set of “wine-beers”.  Hard to describe, but very good.  We had a mead, a Pilsner, a Shandy, and a cider.  They also create premium wines in the traditional way.  It certainly did work to get the conversation going.  

CleanStart Power Up at LucidWe saw old friends that we missed for months and made a number of new friends.  It went so well we are going to do it again sometime.  We liked the location—wine barrels and stacks of old books.  Awesome.  We wanted to attract some of you from the state buildings.  We had some from the CEC and the Secretary of State’s office.  But we want to see dozens more.  And there are more of the “wine-beers” we want to try.

Be on the lookout for our next networking PowerUp, whether downtown or at some other location.  We provide food and drink.  Last night proved we are all starved for human contact.  We went over our planned 8 pm close because people were still having fun. 

Be sure to get on our mailing list so you know when these events are held.

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStart’s Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | TobinBlueTech Valley, Revrnt, River City Bank

Moss AdamsPowerSoft.biz, Greenberg Traurig, California Mobility Center