Hysata (A$42M for revolutionary high-efficiency electrolyzer producing the world’s lowest cost green hydrogen)

Hysata, an Australian cleantech startup founded in 2021, develops a unique capillary-fed electrolysis cell to produce green hydrogen.  The cell produces green hydrogen from water with a 98% energy efficiency, outperforming the existing electrolyzer technologies and achieving the 2050 goal of the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA). Hysata enables hydrogen production that costs US$1.50/kg hydrogen.

Challenges: hydrogen fuel

Green hydrogen is a crucial element of the future net-zero world. Using electricity from renewable sources, such as nuclear, solar, and wind, to split water produces green hydrogen. Green hydrogen can decarbonize hard-to-abate industries, such as steel manufacture, long-distance transportation, shipping, and aviation. It can also be used to store renewable electricity seasonally and as a chemical feedstock.

However, green hydrogen is not cost-competitive with fossil fuels at this time. This is as a result of the high capital expenditure (CAPEX) and high operational expenditure (OPEX) of the present-day water electrolysis plants. The OPEX is by far the largest cost component, and it is dominated by the overall energy efficiency of the water electrolyzer and the cost of the input renewable electricity used to power it.

Modern commercial water electrolyzers at sub-MW scale typically require ~53 kWh of electricity to produce 1 kg of hydrogen, which contains 39.4 kWh of energy (net energy present in hydrogen, or its higher heating value). The 83% energy-efficient electrolysis cell consumes ~47.5 kWh of this total, while the engineering system consumes the remaining ~5.5 kWh. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has set a 2050 target of below42 kWh/kgH₂ for cell energy consumption.

Thus, any improvement in net energy efficiency results in a proportional decrease in the levelized cost of hydrogen (LCOH). The figure below shows the impact of increasing the electrolysis cell energy efficiency from 75% to 95% on the levelized cost of hydrogen.

The impact of the energy efficiency on the levelized cost of hydrogen
The impact of the energy efficiency on the levelized cost of hydrogen. Assumptions: electricity cost = $25/MWh, electrolyzer CAPEX = $400/kW, electrolyzer capacity factor = 65%, electrolyzer lifetime = 20 years, weighted average cost of capital (WACC) = 6.5%, operations and maintenance (O&M) cost = 2% of electrolyzer CAPEX p.a., cost of water = $0.002/kg.

Hysata Technology

Hysata developed a low-cost alkaline capillary-fed electrolysis cell with high energy efficiency. The hydrogen- and oxygen-evolving electrodes come into contact with water via capillary-induced transport along a porous inter-electrode separator, resulting in bubble-free operation at the electrodes. The electrolysis cell has a 98% energy efficiency for water electrolysis, which is superior to commercial electrolysis cells. It consumes significantly less energy (40.4 kWh/kg hydrogen) than commercial electrolysis cells (47.5 kWh/kg hydrogen). High energy efficiency and the promise of a simplified balance-of-plant bring cost-competitive renewable hydrogen closer to reality.

Hysata electrolysis cell

The figure below depicts the structure of the alkaline capillary-fed electrolysis cell. The cell consists primarily of bipolar plates, conducting gas diffusion layers, anode, cathode, a porous separator, and an aqueous 27%wt KOH electrolyte.

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