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Iridium Shortage: A Potential Roadblock for Hydrogen Market Ramp-Up and Energy Transition

Iridium Shortage: A Potential Roadblock for Hydrogen Market Ramp-Up and Energy Transition

The hydrogen market is experiencing significant growth, a crucial component in the push for clean energy to mitigate climate change. According to scientific consensus, accelerating the energy transition is imperative.

While many sectors can be electrified, renewable hydrogen remains essential. The EU's hydrogen initiative highlights the need for up to 120 GW of electrolysis capacity in Europe by 2030. However, a critical raw material for this expansion, iridium, is becoming increasingly scarce.

Global iridium production is limited to just eight tons annually, sufficient for only about 30 GW of PEM electrolysis capacity. With iridium prices soaring to $176,370 per kilogram and each PEM electrolyser requiring around 300 kg to produce 1 GW of hydrogen, this scarcity poses a significant challenge.

PEM electrolysers rely on iridium for stability due to their highly acidic and corrosive cell conditions. To overcome the limitations posed by iridium scarcity, alternative technologies such as Anion Exchange Membrane (AEM) electrolysis are gaining attention. Iridium-free electrolyzers offer several advantages:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: By eliminating the need for iridium, AEM electrolysers significantly reduce the material costs associated with hydrogen production.
  2. Resource Availability: AEM electrolysers rely on more abundant and less expensive materials, ensuring a more stable and scalable supply chain.
  3. Operational Flexibility: Unlike traditional alkaline electrolysers, which require a constant power supply, AEM electrolysers can efficiently operate with intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. This flexibility is crucial for integrating hydrogen production into a renewable energy grid.
  4. Sustainability: The use of iridium-free materials aligns with broader sustainability goals by reducing dependence on rare and environmentally taxing resources.

Enapter's AEM Electrolyzers: Leading the Charge

One of the pioneers in the field of iridium-free electrolysis is Enapter, whose AEM electrolysers are designed to address the limitations of current technologies. The AEM Nexus 1000 electrolyser, for example, features a modular multi-core design with 420 standardized stacks, allowing it to operate flexibly between 3-100% capacity. This design not only ensures operational efficiency but also stabilizes supply chains and shields against cost fluctuations associated with iridium.

The Future of Hydrogen Production

The adoption of iridium-free electrolysers represents a significant step forward in making hydrogen production more sustainable and economically viable. As the demand for hydrogen continues to grow, these innovative technologies will play a crucial role in meeting global energy needs without compromising on environmental and economic sustainability.

For those interested in exploring how AEM technology can drive the energy transition, Enapter offers a wealth of resources and expertise. The shift towards iridium-free electrolysers not only addresses a critical bottleneck in hydrogen production but also paves the way for a cleaner, more resilient energy future.