A Canadian hydrogen specialist intends to construct a 5GW-a-year electrolyser factory in the US state of Texas that will be purpose-built to supply the nearby 60GW Hydrogen City project.

Hydrogen Optimized, an Ontario-based subsidiary of deuterium supplier Key DH Technologies, plans to manufacture its yet-to-be-commercialised ‘high-current’ RuggedCell electrolyser at a yet-to-be-determined site in the Lone Star state.

Texas-based start-up Green Hydrogen International (GHI), which is developing the early-stage 60GW Hydrogen City — the largest single-site green H2 project yet announced — says it intends to “purchase the facility's entire output for the first ten years of operation”.

Hydrogen Optimized says it is “currently implementing a program to demonstrate the RuggedCell technology for large-scale project development”, but claims the technology will produce green hydrogen “at a significantly lower cost at a larger scale than other water electrolysers in the marketplace today”.

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“The RuggedCell design represents a fundamentally different approach that is not found in other water electrolysis technology today,” the company says on its website.

Hydrogen Optimized has not disclosed many details about its electrolyser, other than to say it can ramp up from 0% to 100% power load “in just a few seconds” so is therefore suited to variable renewable energy. This is a similar dynamic response to proton-exchange membrane (PEM) technology, but unlike PEM, the RuggedCell machine does not require expensive iridium.

“Hydrogen Optimized's patented high-current RuggedCell technology was designed from first principles for large-scale hydrogen production at a significantly lower capital cost,” it said in a statement. “The company is targeting individual RuggedCell installations of 100MW as a stepping-stone to systems up to 400MW. By comparison, most systems available in the market today cannot scale beyond 20MW per unit or in many cases, 5MW per unit.”

It added: “Hydrogen Optimized seeks to be the first water electrolysis company to supply an aggregate of 10GW of hydrogen production equipment.”

GHI announced the Hydrogen City project in March, which will be powered by gigawatts of wind turbines and solar panels in the sparsely populated Duval County in south Texas, producing more than 2.5 million tonnes of renewable H2 annually upon completion.

The start-up also plans to sell liquid hydrogen and oxygen — the two elements produced by splitting water molecules inside an electrolyser — to Elon Musk’s SpaceX for rocket fuel, and to store huge amounts of H2 in underground salt caverns.

The first 2GW phase of Hydrogen City is due to begin operations in 2026.

For more details on the project, click here.