HyperSolar Inc., developer of renewable hydrogen (H2) technology using sunlight and water, has demonstrated significant cost reductions to green H2 by replacing expensive platinum material compounds with new, low-cost ruthenium/carbon/nitrogen-based H2 evolution catalyst.

With help from Professor Jong-Beom Baek and his research group at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) based in South Korea, HyperSolar developed a new catalyst that is 20x cheaper than the current platinum one and equally functional.

HyperSolar integrated this ruthenium-based catalyst for H2 evolution with its proprietary low-cost catalyst for oxygen evolution onto a triple junction silicon solar cell. The HyperSolar device clearly demonstrated the production of copious amounts of H2 and oxygen bubbles under water within a minute of exposure to simulated sunlight.

Platinum is currently the best-known catalyst for H2 evolution. However, the price of platinum is very high due to its scarcity and difficult mining process. Using a low-cost catalyst comprised chiefly of earth abundant elements (90% is carbon and nitrogen) to replace platinum will significantly lower the H2 production cost, thus resulting in a reduced H2 fuel price for consumer and commercial applications.

Tim Young, CEO of HyperSolar, commented, “I’m very proud of our team for continuing to hit milestones bringing us closer to commercial viability. By systematically lowering the cost of major components, such as solar cells and catalysts, we believe that the H2 economy is possible. Our next steps will be to further explore other properties of the catalyst, such as long-term stability under water with high salinity, as the best fit for our application.”