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Synthesizing alternatives to iridium oxide will allow for cheaper hydrogen production at increased scale.
Mattiq has conducted chemical-based research to develop a portfolio of catalysts to replace iridium oxide in proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis—a process that generates clean hydrogen with negligible carbon output. The development of alternative catalysts allows for cheaper, more accessible hydrogen production, as well as avoiding the difficulties in acquiring a rare and expensive earth element such as iridium.
“We are excited to work with our industrial partners to bring these alternative catalysts to market to accelerate the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis instead of from fossil fuels,” said Jeff Erhardt, CEO of Mattiq. “But our work to address the iridium challenge is only the first step in comprehensively tackling one of the economy’s hardest to abate sectors – the production of chemicals and fuels.”
The creation of these PEM catalysts aligns with a wave of federal funding directed toward the creation of hydrogen hubs. An $8 billion investment in hydrogen hubs and an additional $100 billion in subsidies for the industry, handled by the United States Treasury, ensures that Mattiq’s catalyst development satisfies the needs of a growing energy market.
A form of iridium is currently used as a component in PEM water electrolyzers across the industry, yet the scarcity of the element makes this an unreliable catalyst for large-scale production. Iridium oxide catalysts are limited in supply and high in cost, presenting a challenge for the infrastructure planning of hydrogen hubs and overall ease of production. According to estimates from the International Renewable Energy Agency, the current supply of iridium is only capable of supporting 3-7.5 GW per year of PEM electrolyzer production. The forecasted demand of 100 GW by 2030 cannot be supported with an iridium oxide catalyst, and Mattiq developed a portfolio of alternatives to counteract this demand increase.
“This work represents the most comprehensive, systematic study of the landscape of iridium alternatives that has ever been conducted,” said Dr. Andrey Ivankin, CTO and co-founder of Mattiq. “Over the prior months, we synthesized and evaluated millions of combinations of different elements for durability, efficacy and practicality for industrial applications. Work that used to take years can now be done in a fraction of that time with greater rigor than ever before.”