Introduction to Electrolysers

As hydrogen technology looks to scale, we are speaking with start-ups and scale-ups that are looking
to bring exciting new electrolyser technologies to the market.

They seek our help around go2market strategy, as well as how to protect their IP. Whilst licensing can
avoid the many challenges of design for manufacture and of establishing a viable production facility,
licensing planning needs to be handled with care. Clients have invested a lot of time and money into
developing their IP and they need to protect it as best they can. We have helped clients to navigate
their licensing options.

In fact, there’s quite a range of electrolyser technologies coming to the market and we highlight some
key features here below:

Electrolysis is a method of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity. More than
10,000 patent families associated with electrolysers were registered globally between 2005 to 2020,
with more than half of them coming from Europe and Japan. Generally, an electrolyser contains a
cathode, an anode, and a membrane. The separation of hydrogen and oxygen takes place in a cell
where electricity is flown across the membrane from the anode to the cathode. According to the type
of electrolyte, an electrically conducting medium through which ions move, electrolysers are
categorised into:

A. Alkaline Electrolysers

This type of electrolyser uses liquid electrolytes such as potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide or
water. An alkaline electrolyser is commonly used in industrial activities to synthesise ammonia.

B. Proton Exchange Membrane or Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM)

Instead of a liquid electrolyte, this type of electrolyser uses a solid polymer electrolyte. The
electrolyser is often referred to as a Proton Exchange Membrane which emphasises the
membrane’s function, or a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane which highlights the material property
of the membrane. This type of electrolyser is generally smaller and simpler to operate compared
to alkaline electrolysers and is able to convert around 80% of electrical power into hydrogen.
However, they are generally more expensive due to the use of precious metals and additional
hydrating systems.

C. Solid Oxide Electrolyser

A solid ceramic material is used as the electrolyte in solid oxide electrolysers. This electrolyser
operates at a high temperature that comes from various heat sources, including nuclear. For this
reason, it consumes less electrical energy.

If you are wrestling with the challenges of scaling and protecting your IP, whether you are an
electrolyser business or any other climate tech, then get in touch with NovAzure’s Phil Cholerton at to share your thoughts.

Click here for our previous Hydrogen article.


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