Critical Need for the Technology
Hydrogen is a necessary solution to decarbonize high carbon intensity sectors such as heavy duty transportation and industrial energy use. Enabling hydrogen requires leapfrog improvements across all key devices (electrolyzers, electrochemical compressors, fuel cells) that support a hydrogen infrastructure for production, storage, and usage. Delivering these simultaneous improvements would ordinarily be difficult if not for their shared architecture, and more importantly, key functional materials. At Celadyne, by innovating at the materials level with new membranes and catalyst, the company hopes to maximize impact across all three devices to ultimately make hydrogen greener, cheaper, and with better round-trip efficiency to serve as a vector in a renewable energy future.
With Celadyne’s technology, hydrogen production, storage and usage can be cheaper and more efficient. Electrolyzers outfitted with its materials can be built with lower capital expenditure (savings from membranes, catalyst, and balance of plant) while decreasing operating expenditures (savings from elevated temperature efficiency). Hydrogen can be produced at high pressure or electrochemically compressed to high pressure for storage with lower hydrogen crossover. And, when it is time to convert hydrogen back to electricity, fuel cells with Celadyne membranes provide a high efficiency avenue for conversion in a smaller form factor suitable for both transportation and stationary usage.
Supplemental Need for this Technology
Commercialization of deep materials innovations is difficult. But when they are successful, they not only promote lasting change in the effected industry, they also impact various fields through ripples in borrowed concepts and ideas. The last major proton exchange membrane innovation continues to fuel innovation in fields ranging from redox flow batteries and electrodialysis to desalination and artificial neural memristors.
Potential CO2 Reduction
Heavy-duty trucking for transportation accounts for approximately 3,000 MtCO2e each year. Hydrogen fuel cell electric heavy trucks have well-to-wheels emissions that are 20%-90% that of diesel trucks. In practice, these emissions reductions will not be realized immediately due to the time required for wide adoption of new technologies. Celadyne’s technology has the potential to accelerate this adoption of hydrogen-powered trucks through improved performance and lower cost fuel cell membranes. If Celadyne’s technology accelerates hydrogen-powered truck adoption by five years, compared to current predictions for hydrogen truck adoption, the additional emissions reduced would average 100-500 MtCO2e per year over the next 30 years.
- Traditional chemical companies.
- Startups developing new membranes and catalyst, though many are focused more towards alkaline systems or lower cost proton exchange systems that operate similar in principle to the incumbent.
- Device companies that have elected to vertically integrate to develop new membranes and catalyst.
Celadyne is currently focused on providing membranes and materials to hydrogen device manufacturers, with specific emphasis on fuel cells for unmanned aerial vehicles and heavy duty transport. These two markets benefit most from Celadyne’s innovation to deliver devices that are more efficient and compact, leading to a decrease in fuel cell size and weight.
Celadyne’s secondary focus is on electrolysis and electrochemical compressors with a focus to enable electrolysis at 95 Celsius or steam electrolysis to improve efficiency as well as hydrogen compression or production at pressure up to 35 bar. While these are burgeoning markets, the estimated market size in 2021 is already above $2 billion due to the high price point of the incumbent membrane (up to $1000/m2) and is set to continue to grow due to increasing environmental regulations and interest in renewable energy technologies.
Celedyne uses interface-driven ion transport along a ceramic-polymer interface to enable low humidity proton transport behavior.
R & D Status of Project
Celadyne is current pursing its proof of concept membrane to be tested in a laboratory setting. Membrane benchmarking and performance is expected to be completed by September 2021 after which Celadyne will engage with key partners for demonstration in partner devices. Celadyne will also be pursuing scale up and initial de-risking of membrane manufacturing starting in July 2021. Interested partners for device and membrane joint development are strongly encouraged to get in touch.
Team Overview (Founders)
Gary Ong: He invented the nanocomposite technology while at UT Austin in the Milliron group. He obtained his BS, MS, and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and has published 9 peer-reviewed journal papers in the field.
Delia Milliron: She is co-inventor of the technology, cofounder of Celadyne, and a full professor in Chemical Engineering at UT Austin. In 2012, she co-founded Heliotrope Technologies, a startup commercializing nanocrystal solution processed electrochromic technologies. Heliotrope has raised series Seed, A, and B rounds and currently employs 45 full time personnel. She obtained her PhD in Physical Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 2004 and an AB in Chemistry, with a Certificate in Materials Science from Princeton University in 1999.
Primary industry: Materials and manufacturing
Category: membranes, fuel cells, electrolyzers, hydrogen
Estimated annual revenue: 1 M (2020, from grants)
Social challenge: Clean energy and decarbonization
R&D commercial collaborator: N/A