Tetramer and Caltech Continue Collaboration to Enable Green Hydrogen Production Under DOE $1.15 Million R&D Award

Tetramer Membranes Group, working in collaboration with Xiang Research Group at Caltech (California Institute of Technology), has received a two-year $1.15MM Department of Energy (DOE) Phase IIA award for the continued development of membranes for the production of green hydrogen using solar fuels generators.

Used with permission – ©California Institute of Technology, 2015. Artwork by Darius Siwek

Solar fuels generators use the sun’s energy to produce renewable green fuels, such as hydrogen and hydrocarbons, from water and carbon dioxide.  During Phase I and Phase II, Tetramer developed improved membranes that are essential to these devices, and Caltech provided customized device design, fabrication, and testing. Together, Tetramer and Caltech demonstrated the potential for these specialty membranes to outperform current commercial materials. Phase IIA efforts will further develop the Tetramer membranes and Caltech devices, with a focus on enhancing long term durability, optimizing efficiency and device component integration, and minimizing cost.

Applications for green hydrogen and other solar fuels include use as chemical feedstocks and fuels for industrial processes, transportation, and power backup/storage. For each application, the use of solar generated fuels would enable reduced dependence on fossil fuels, so the potential impact is far reaching.

“Large scale availability of green solar hydrogen could significantly reduce global carbon emissions and potentially make affordable clean energy available to some of the world’s poorest regions.  In the US, DOE and industry estimates suggest efficient green hydrogen production could generate $140 billion in revenues and 700,000 jobs by the end of this decade,” said Tetramer Principal Investigator, Dr. Chris Topping.

Researchers at Tetramer and Caltech have had a strong partnership through Phase I and Phase II programs and look forward to continuing work toward the goal of achieving affordable green hydrogen under this Phase IIA. Dr. Earl Wagener, Tetramer Director of Technical Business Development said, “Tetramer’s expertise in ionomer molecular architecture combined with Caltech’s solar device innovation background has already produced encouraging progress toward DOE’s Hydrogen Shot 1-1-1 goals of $1 per kilo of hydrogen in 1 decade. This award should allow us together to optimize our excellent results and confirm the commercial value of this huge market.”

Caltech Research Professor of Applied Physics & Materials Science, Dr. Chengxiang Xiang also commented on the promising work, “We are pleased with the progress we have made with Tetramer on developing this unique solar approach to generating green hydrogen. We appreciate Tetramer’s ionomer molecular architecture synthesis creativity to deliver the performance needed for our solar technology to successfully lower the cost of this green source of energy.”

Tetramer CEO, Dr. Jeff DiMaio said, “Since our founding, Tetramer has been committed to advancing the hydrogen economy through improved proton exchange membrane design. The collaboration with Caltech to respond to the Hydrogen Shot goals has been extremely fruitful in our first three years and our results to date are quite exciting. Innovation doesn’t happen overnight, and the progress that the teams led by Dr. Xiang at Caltech and Dr. Topping at Tetramer is the culmination of years of work by both groups. With the additional two years of funding from the DOE, the teams will be able to advance the state of the technology by further refinement of the device design and further improvement of the membrane performance.”

Prof. Xiang’s research at California Institute of Technology focuses on design, development, and demonstration of electrochemical and https://cxx.caltech.edu/photoelectrochemical (PEC) devices and integrated components for solar fuels applications. As part of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), his group has designed and developed a portfolio of fully integrated, high efficiency solar-hydrogen cells with many unique attributes. Under DOE-SBIR Phase-I and Phase-II projects, as well as working with multiple industry partners, including Tetramer Technologies and SoCalGas, Prof. Xiang’s research team continues to work on materials and devices for stable, scalable and cost-competitive generation of H2 and hydrocarbons directly from sunlight.

Located near Clemson, SC, Tetramer is an advanced materials company dedicated to the development of market-driven materials and transitioning those materials from the lab to the market or battlefield. Our team includes scientists and engineers with backgrounds in organic, physical, polymer, and analytical chemistry, ceramic engineering, materials science, and chemical engineering. With expertise in materials design, synthesis, analytical characterization, and scale-up, we provide customized support to our partners across every stage of innovation from molecule to manufacturing.

For more information on Tetramer Membrane Development, visit tetramer.com/membranes.

Department of Energy award page: https://science.osti.gov/sbir/Awards

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