The breakthrough is significant as the planet has only about one-tenth the iridium it needs to meet the rapidly growing global demand for hydrogen electrolysers.

H2U is leveraging its CDE to develop a suite of novel catalysts that could replace expensive, rare materials like iridium.

The AI-driven CDE is a rapid screening process developed over 10 years at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) through a $122m Department of Energy (DOE) grant.

This data-driven, high-throughput process allows scientists to make, characterize, and quantify the catalytic activity of thousands of material compositions per week.

H2U scientists then close the loop with big data analysis to refine and guide the search for the optimum catalysts in a continuing improvement cycle.

Mark McGough, CEO of H2U Technologies, said its CDE is a major breakthrough in testing and identifying non-PGM catalyst materials.

He said, “The CDE is like looking at the stars with a Hubble telescope rather than through binoculars – it can see the full picture in a way no other tool can. With our CDE and non-iridium electrolysers, H2U Technologies offers a clear pathway for the hydrogen industry to scale quickly without facing bottlenecks due to a lack of material supply or volatile, high costs.”

H2U has analysed hundreds of thousands of compounds to discover and develop dozens of viable non-iridium electrocatalysts, which were formed into membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) and cells.

These materials – with readily available domestic supplies – have been tested and proven under typical PEM electrolyser operating conditions both in-house and in third-party evaluations. With this initial progress, H2U has demonstrated its excellence in catalyst discovery and the value-add it brings to the future of the electrolyser industry.

Katherine Rinaldi, Ph.D., Director of Government Affairs, said catalyst alternatives will have to be found quickly if we expect the hydrogen economy to scale at the rates industries are estimating.

“Using the CDE, H2U will continue to develop and improve its collection of low-cost, non-iridium catalyst alternatives,” she said. “This is especially important for the near future, where highly constrained sources of PGM materials may lead to shortages and remarkable price increases resulting in major barriers to a rapid clean energy transition.”

After raising $11m through a Series A funding round earlier this year, H2U partnered up with De Nora, an Italian designer and manufacturer of electrodes, through a Joint Development Agreement in order to test a non-PGM catalyst developed by the American company.

Total electrolysis capacity is expected to reach around 3TW by 2050 and the availability of an affordable and efficient electrolyser design, composed of easily accessible and abundant materials, will play a key role in enabling the ever-growing hydrogen industry.