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Next Hydrogen develops new generation of electrolysis systems

IMAGE: Close up of an electrolyzer
A close-up of an electrolyzer from Next Hydrogen Solutions. (Courtesy Next Hydrogen Solutions Inc.)

Next Hydrogen Solutions Inc. enters 2023 firmly focused on improving its current line of electrolysis products and continuing to develop the next generation of the technology, which produces green hydrogen.

Founded in 2007, Next Hydrogen is based in Mississauga.

It produces 40 MW of assembly capacity for its electrolyzers annually. The green hydrogen produced from those electrolyzers can be used as fuel for industries such as ammonia, steel and cement production, as well as transportation applications such as heavy mobility and off-highway fleets.

It will engage in a collaborative project split into two streams: A "blue chip consortium" of unnamed strategic partners focused on cost and performance improvements to Next Hydrogen’s current line of electrolysis products – up to 2.25 MW; and the launch of next-generation modules producing up to nine MW by Q2 2024.

The over-$12 million development program includes building a technology demonstration unit to undergo extensive testing at the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre in Calgary in Q2 2023. The centre is operated by InnoTech Alberta.

“The focus for us in the first half of this year was primarily on putting in place best-in-class test infrastructure. So we got our lab-scale equipment up, we got main-scale equipment, pilot-scale factory acceptance tests,” said Raveel Afzaal, Next Hydrogen’s president and CEO. “We focused on delivering a system to Hyundai and Kia, we also helped better understand and validate our existing systems that we have in the marketplace.”

“Now we're finally at a point where we are ready for the next generation of electrolyzers that we need to launch into the marketplace.”

Afzaal said Next Hydrogen hopes to secure market demonstrations of its technology with the consortium partners on the basis of the testing in Alberta.

The specifics of those market applications were not disclosed, with Afzaal only referring to it as a “very powerful hydrogen ecosystem.”

To aid in this, Next Hydrogen (NXH-X) received $5.1 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). The consortium partners were also vetted by the SDTC, with the process taking around six months.

Next Hydrogen’s electrolysis products

In January, SustainableBiz reported on Black and Veatch selecting Next Hydrogen as one of eight companies in its IgniteX Climate Tech Accelerator program. The goal of the collaboration is to produce a 20 MW solution.

“Basically what we do is we take electricity to break the water molecule into hydrogen and oxygen and then that hydrogen can be used for various applications, like transportation applications, but also industrial applications that cannot be electrified, like ammonia, cement, steel, those types of facilities,” Afzaal said at the time.

“Then it can be used to decarbonize forklifts that are looking to move over from lead-acid batteries, or even heavy mobility trucks.”

Next Hydrogen’s cell design architecture is supported by 39 patents.

“What we’re bringing to the marketplace is the first revolution in cell design architecture for alkaline electrolyzers since the 1950s, to my knowledge,” Afzaal told SustainableBiz at the time. The technology facilitates the usage of "less materials to produce the same amount of hydrogen as everyone else.”

Ideally, Next Hydrogen wants market demonstrations taking place by 2024.

“Think people that will be either helping us out on the supply chain, or be potential end users, or could be very high-quality channel partners for us in some instances,” Afzaal said. “So you have a really good mix of market participants (and) critical industry participants as part of this project.”

In October, Next Hydrogen delivered a proof of concept alkaline electrolyzer module incorporating Hyundai motor cell components to the automaker. In July 2021, it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Hyundai and Kia Corporation.

"Combining Hyundai Motor and Kia’s state-of-the-art cell component technology with our innovative cell design architecture has demonstrated significant potential to improve the known performance of alkaline water electrolyzers and to produce green hydrogen economically," said Afzaal in a statement at the time.

Next Hydrogen looking ahead

In concert with its other partners, Afzaal said development of the 20 MW solution is part of that collaboration. Currently, the company has a conceptual design for a facility of that size.

In April, the company signed a non-exclusive MOU with Black and Veatch to develop a large-scale, multi-megawatt green hydrogen solution.

According to Afzaal, there will be 150 gigawatts of electrolyzers installed globally by 2030 compared to just 200 MW at the beginning of the decade. Next Hydrogen has its eyes on a longer timeline around Canada’s 2030 net-zero goals and beyond, but he wasn’t ready to disclose that information just yet.

“I think what you're going to see is our technology operating at multi-megawatt scale first, then you're going to see our technology getting increasingly competitive, I think you're going to see potentially some announcements pertaining to revenue-generating market demonstrations for 2024,” he said.

“So I think the next two years are going to be very, very exciting. 2022 was a foundational year, we achieved a lot and I think you're going to see all this effort bear fruit in 2023 and 2024.”

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