Energy firm BP has joined a number of companies in investing a total of $12.5 million in the Series A financing round for Advanced Ionics, a US-based start-up working on technology to make the production of green hydrogen cheaper.
Hydrogen has considerable potential for decarbonising industries that are ill-suited to electrification, such as the steel industry, but most hydrogen is currently produced from natural gas in a process that is in itself carbon intensive. Green hydrogen can also be produced through electrolysis, where electricity is used to split water into its component oxygen and hydrogen atoms, but it currently costs five times more than conventionally produced hydrogen.
To tackle this problem, Advanced Ionics has developed a technology called Symbion to take the heat from a plant’s operations and use it to reduce the electricity needed for electrolysis from 50 KWh per kilogram to less than 35 KWh per kilogram. As this energy accounts for 70% of the production cost, the company says its technology can drive the price of green hydrogen down to under $1 per kilogram.
BP, which makes the Castrol range of metalworking and lubricant fluids, is heavily committed to green and low-carbon hydrogen, with plans to be producing 0.5–0.7 million tonnes each year by 2030.
Advanced Ionics is currently working with Repsol, an oil and gas company based in Spain, to trial the technology. The new Series A funding will allow it to speed up the deployment of its Symbion-based electrolysers on a small scale in heavy industrial settings.