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Dave Holscher

QuantumSphere Files Patent on Catalyst Device for Low-Cost, High-Efficiency Hydrogen Electrolysis

20 September 2006
Efficiency of QSI Nano-Electrodes versus DoE 2010 target at different flow rates. Click to enlarge.

QuantumSphere (QSI), a manufacturer of nano metals and alloys for applications in renewable energy and other markets demanding advanced materials, has announced the recent filing of another patent relating to the production of hydrogen by electrolysis using its proprietary nano electrodes.

Using electrodes composed of QSI nanometals, QuantumSphere has achieved up to 80% efficiency at lower current flow rates (100 mA/cm2) and approximately 60% efficiency at higher rates (1,000 mA/cm2). Over the next year, QSI believes it will achieve or exceed the DoE 2010 target of 75% efficiency at rates beyond 1,000 mA/cm2 through further optimization. As a result, the company believes it has enabled electrolysis to more easily compete with hydrogen generation by steam reformation.

QSI compresses and sinters high surface area metallic nanoparticles into porous plates to function as liquid and gas diffusion electrodes for water electrolysis. The electrodes have an expanded metal surface facing away from the electrolyte for strength and current collection.

Tortuous pathways within them expose large surface area to reacting water and to also allow the escape of the gaseous products. Electrolyte flows through the electrode to sweep away the bubbles as they form.

QSI sees the efficiency of its electrolysis system as an important step in working toward a hydrogen-on-demand system for direct feed into fuel cells which would eliminate the need for storing hydrogen in pressurized systems with their attendant cost, logistical and safety issues.

QSI is working with DoppStein Enterprises on the electrolysis system.

Together, we are not only finding new, unexpected and highly active combinations of nano catalysts, but in the process are also developing the test methods for evaluation of the electrodes. This allows us to determine the next round of improvements, and has catapulted us beyond the literature into uncharted territory. These devices, made to test the electrodes, are also the embryonic hydrogen generating machines of the future. The collaboration is very exciting and productive.

—Robert Dopp, president and chief scientist, DoppStein Enterprises

DoppStein Enterprises, Inc. is an R&D laboratory located in Marietta, Georgia, working in renewable energy related fields including metal-air fuel cells, direct methanol fuel cells, and hydrogen production through water electrolysis.