b.spkl completes Climate Response Accelerator

Our Science

01 July 2022

green hydrogen

A new GNS hydrogen venture, b.spkl, has finished a successful stint in the CreativeHQ Climate Response Accelerator.

“GNS’ catalyst-coated hydrogen membrane technology, which the b.spkl venture is seeking to commercialise, has the ability to overcome a significant bottleneck in manufacturing electrolysers. It has the potential to unlock clean hydrogen production at scale, and provides many possible commercial adjacencies,” says Sheena Thomas, GNS Commercial and Business Partnerships Manager.

In the current global context of supply chain issues, rising costs, and shortages of raw minerals, b.spkl can add significant value by reducing the cost and resource barriers to generating clean hydrogen. 

Key announcements by the European Union in 2019 and 2020, has seen a 200 percent increase in demand for hydrogen electrolyser systems and announcements for more than 1.3 million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to be manufactured.

A picture of the modified membrane

“At the heart of b.spkl’s innovation is the membrane that significantly reduced the amount of platinum and iridium required in an electrolyser,” says Ion Beam Material Scientist Jerome Leveneur.

“Presently around $26,000 USD of platinum group minerals are needed per electrolyser. Imagine if it was possible to reduce the amount of platinum group mineral requirements to just $6,500USD, says Jerome.

We know hydrogen is an essential energy source to support the global transition away from carbon emitting fuels, but the technology is currently hamstrung by scaling. 

Jerome Leveneur Ion Beam Material Scientist GNS Science

Key to scaling is efficiency in manufacturing innovation which has become a huge focus in countries like the USA and Germany to meet its goal of $1 per 1kg of Hydrogen. This is essential to overcome this technology’s dependency on critical minerals that are in short supply, like platinum and iridium.

Small scale water electrolyser for testing GNS Science's new catalyst coated membranes.

The GNS Materials team and Engineering Workshop have developed the technology which drastically reduces platinum group requirements, while maintaining electrolyser performance. "We have the ability to produce the membrane at scale, and are clear on the milestones that need to be met for widespread adoption," Leveneur. said.

Burnell John 3261

John Burnell Geothermal Modeller

John is a numerical modeller who has over 30 years experience working on a wide range of energy related projects. His main focus is geothermal reservoir modelling, undertaking both research and consulting. He has developed models of geothermal systems throughout the world, for both consenting purposes and resource planning. He has worked on models of: Ngawha, Wairakei, Rotokawa, Rotorua, Tauhara, Kawerau, Mokai, (New Zealand), Mt Apo, Bacman (Philippines), Kakkonda, Uenotai, Sumikawa (Japan), and Luiese (Papua New Guinea). He has long-standing involvement in the resource consent process in New Zealand, both developing models to assess environmental impacts and appearing as an expert witness at consent hearings. He is able to develop new software for solving modelling problems, and is the developer of a commercially available Tough2 pre-processor. John is currently the NZ convener of the IPGT Reservoir Modelling Group, and has served on the NZ Geothermal Association Board. In addition to geothermal modelling, John has worked on models of gas reservoirs, heat exchangers, heat transfer in reformer furnaces, casting furnaces, heater design, heat transfer in coolstores, biofilm growth and electroosmotic flow

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