Technology that claims to be on course to produce the world’s cheapest green hydrogen from renewable energy has been backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV).

Israel-based H2Pro says its “water-splitting device” can outstrip alternative electrolysis systems in supplying hydrogen at scale, and cut costs to $1/kg by removing the membranes used in electrolysers.

The company announced a $22m financing round that was led by BEV, set up by the Microsoft tycoon to invest in key energy transition technologies, and others including Sumitomo Corporation.

H2Pro said its E-TAC (electrochemical-thermally activated chemical) system uses electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. “Unlike electrolysis, hydrogen and oxygen are produced at separate steps. This eliminates the need for a costly membrane, allows for a simpler construction and significantly lowers power consumption compared to electrolysis,” claimed the company.

“We’ve known how to split water with electricity for over 200 years via electrolysis. Drawing on that expertise, we’ve created a technology with 95% efficiency and lower CAPEX that can significantly accelerate the mainstream adoption of green hydrogen,” it added.

“Coupled with anticipated reductions in the cost of renewable energy, H2Pro’s technology will enable $1/kg green hydrogen at scale — making it the world’s lowest cost green hydrogen.”

BEV is working with the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme in part of its backing for the Israeli system via its BEV-E partnership with the European Commission.

“H2Pro’s approach to hydrogen production is unique in that it is both electrically and chemically driven, which presents huge opportunities for this important market,” said BEV. “We look forward to working with them and with the European Commission to further develop H2Pro’s E-TAC hydrogen production system and support the company’s mission of commercialising low-cost green hydrogen.”

The ability to produce green hydrogen at massive scale is widely seen as crucial in establishing the key energy transition fuel as a replacement for fossil sources in hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as heating and transport, and making it competitive with other varieties including blue hydrogen from abated gas.

Dash for scale

Plans are underway across the world to link wind and solar with electrolysers to achieve scale production and cut costs, with vast projects envisaged in locations such as Australia and Saudi Arabia and major initiatives to link H2 with offshore wind.

Producers of multiple electrolyser technologies are racing to develop systems that can bring the cost of renewable H2 below $1.50, roughly the level of grey hydrogen made from unabated fossils that dominates the market at present.

Electrolysis specialist Nel said in January that it aims to cut the cost of its alkaline-electrolysers by about 75% in a new 2GW factory — set to be the world’s largest and hit the $1.50/kg mark.

Just last week Danish chemical catalyst company Haldor Topsoe announced plans to construct a 500MW factory to manufacture solid oxide electrolysers (SOEs) that could reduce the cost of green hydrogen by as much as 20% compared to the more common alkaline and PEM electrolysers.