Israeli company H2Pro received $22 million to start mass production of a new type of cell. The list of investors included funds funded by Bill Gates and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, as well as Japanese trading company Sumitomo Corporation and Korean automaker Hyundai.
Talmon Marco, CEO of H2Pro, is best known as the co-founder of the companies that developed the Viber messenger, which was sold to Rakuten for $900 million in 2014, and the Juno taxi service, acquired in 2017 by Gett for $200 million.
The device developed by H2Pro is similar in principle to the most common alkaline electrolyzers today. But unlike devices of traditional design, it works in two stages. During the first, hydrogen is released at the cathode in the electrolysis plant. In this case, the resulting hydroxide ion does not participate in the formation of oxygen at the cathode, but produces chemical changes in its material, converting nickel hydroxide into nickel metahydroxide.
At the second stage, the supply of electricity to the electrolyser is stopped, and its container is filled with water at a temperature of 95°C. In this case, nickel metahydroxide in the cathode is converted back to hydroxide with the release of oxygen. Thus, thermal rather than electrical energy is used to form oxygen. As a result, the H2Pro design is more energy efficient than conventional electrolyzers.
According to representatives of H2Pro, with the help of the new technology, it will be able to spend only $ 1 on the production of each kilogram of clean hydrogen in the second half of this decade. It was previously believed that such a reduction in cost would not be achieved until 2050, and by 2030 the minimum price for hydrogen would be at least $2.2 per kilogram. For comparison, in 2019, a kilogram of eco-friendly hydrogen cost between $2.5 and $6.8.
Now H2Pro has only a laboratory electrolyser that produces 100 grams of hydrogen per day. In the near future, it is planned to create a prototype capable of producing 1 kilogram of hydrogen fuel per day.
According to Talmon Marko, H2Pro plans to launch its first plant, which will be able to produce electrolyzers with a total capacity of hundreds of megawatts, in Israel in 2023. Similar enterprises can be created in other countries.