Nornickel considers manufacturing catalysts for hydrogen energy
Mon Feb 27 2023
Nornickel is looking into the possibility of using palladium for catalysts sought by the growing hydrogen power market.
Hydrogen fuel cell
The Earth is warming due to greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere, which may lead to catastrophic consequences for many of the planet’s regions. Hydrogen energy may be one of the viable options to reduce CO2 emissions materially and address climate change.
The Concept for the Development of Hydrogen Energy in Russia was approved by the government in 2021. In addition to other strategic initiatives, it envisages the construction and development of industrial and technological hydrogen clusters across the country.
Nornickel, the world’s largest palladium supplier, joined forces with the scientific community to create the first prototype of a palladium-based catalyst — nanosized material for membrane electrode assemblies used in the electrolysis of hydrogen.
Vitaly Busko, Vice President for Innovations at Nornickel, commented: “The hydrogen energy market is still in the making, but it is becoming increasingly evident that sooner or later hydrogen will find its niche in the technology sector by offering a viable alternative to traditional energy sources. We have every chance of emerging as one of key players in this industry, which is desperately looking for innovative products such as the one we are currently working on.”
Today the hydrogen energy market uses platinum- and iridium-based catalysts. Nornickel is considering catalyst efficiency improvements achieved through partial replacement of these metals with palladium. Due to its extraordinarily strong chemical resistance, palladium has proved to be more efficient in catalysts than other palladium group metals.
Nornickel’s Technology Innovation Department together with the teams of the Marketing and Strategic Planning Departments are analysing the viability of applying palladium to the cathode and anode of a hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell and a proton-exchange membrane electrolyser.
The Company’s Kola Division serves as a production site to manufacture limited batches of chemical compounds with platinum group metals. The latter can be used as the source material (precursor) to produce palladium-based catalysts.
Nornickel sees the development potential not only for catalysts, but also for other hydrogen energy segments such as membrane technologies for making, storing and transporting high-purity hydrogen.
For the first catalyst prototype, Nornickel’s team used third-party precursors. In terms of its properties, the catalyst is not inferior to the commercially available products. Nornickel is planning to test its prototypes in the Chinese market to decide on the viability of commercial production. In accordance with the research plan, next prototypes and the first sample precursors will come on stream this year.