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- 2022

More affordable and efficient: f-cell award for scalable water electrolysis cell

A team led by Dr. Severin Vierrath, division head at Hahn-Schickard and the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg, in collaboration with the Technical University of Berlin, has succeeded in developing electrolysis cells that do not require the very rare and expensive iridium catalyst at all and are as efficient as conventional electrolysis. As a result, they have the potential to drastically reduce hydrogen production costs.

To achieve the climate targets set, all sectors of the economy must become emission-free. Some sectors, such as the steel industry, require enormous quantities of "green" hydrogen for this purpose, meaning hydrogen produced with renewable energy and water electrolysis. The novel alkaline electrolysis with membrane (AEM) promises to combine the advantages of the two common electrolysis technologies: low-cost materials of “alkaline electrolysis” with the compactness and dynamics of polymer electrolyte membrane electrolysis. So far, however, AEM electrolysis has not been able to compete with established technologies in terms of efficiency and lifetime.

As one of only a few research groups worldwide, the team has now succeeded in developing electrolysis cells within the BMBF-funded project “AEMready” that have the efficiency of conventional electrolysis while completely dispensing with the extremely scarce and thus cost-intensive iridium catalyst. Much more crucial, however, is the fact that these cells have been produced exclusively with scalable processes for the first time, paving the way for mass production.

The “f-cell Award,” which is presented annually during the f-cell conference in Stuttgart, was awarded for the second time to the team around Dr. Severin Vierrath on October 4. Dr. Andre Baumann, State Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector for the State of Baden-Württemberg, presented the 10,000 euro prize in the “Research & Development” category during the Opening Planery of the f-cell conference.



Katrin Grötzinger

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Severin Vierrath

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