I-Corps: Electrolyzers for Green Hydrogen Production Using Reverse Osmosis Membranes

Project: Research project

Project Details


The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is the development of an electrolyzer for producing green hydrogen at a lower cost and without negative environmental impacts. The global market size of hydrogen was $155B in 2020 and is expected to reach $317B in 2030 with a compound annual growth rate of 9.3%. Different sectors, including transportation (light, medium, and heavy fuel cell vehicles), industry (oil refining, metals refining, biofuels, ammonia, and synthetic hydrocarbons), and storage (natural gas supplementation and seasonal energy storage) are the main customers of hydrogen. Conventional methods of hydrogen production are expensive and release pollutants into the environment. The proposed technology has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping overcome environmental challenges like global warming. Different industrial sectors can use green hydrogen at a reduced cost, and the technology will use renewable sources of energy for hydrogen production, leading toward sustainable development. This I-Corps project is based on the development of electrolyzers for green hydrogen production using thin film composite (TFC) membranes. In the proposed technology, TFC membranes (e.g., reverse osmosis membranes) are used instead of more expensive proton exchange membranes (PEMs) to address the high cost of green hydrogen production by electrolysis. From a technical point of view, using a TFC membrane in the electrolyzer has several advantages. First, it could limit the transport of salt ions while allowing protons to pass, making charge balance between electrodes. Second, utilizing the TFC membrane in the electrolyzer could restrict the gas transfer between chambers (anolyte and catholyte) and allow hydrogen gas production. Moreover, initial investigations indicate that TFC membranes have acceptable performance for water electrolysis compared to commercial ion exchange membranes. This technology will employ renewable energy sources (e.g., solar energy) for seawater electrolysis. As a result, it could be possible to produce green hydrogen at a reduced cost without greenhouse gas emissions to the environment.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date2/1/241/31/25


  • National Science Foundation: $50,000.00


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