Home » Heraeus, Sibanye-Stillwater Drive Green Hydrogen Revolution

Heraeus, Sibanye-Stillwater Drive Green Hydrogen Revolution

by Adenike Adeodun

Heraeus Precious Metals, in collaboration with South Africa’s Sibanye-Stillwater, has announced a major breakthrough in green hydrogen production. Their innovative ruthenium-based catalyst, unveiled at the P2X conference in Frankfurt, significantly reduces reliance on scarce iridium, enhancing sustainability and cost-effectiveness in hydrogen production.

This development aligns with the global push towards a cleaner energy transition, where green hydrogen is vital. The Hydrogen Council anticipates a capacity of 175 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, with 40% expected to be generated using Platinum Group Metals (PGMs)-based Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolysis.

According to a report by Mining Weekly, Heraeus’ breakthrough addresses a key challenge: the limited supply of iridium. Typically, one GW capacity requires 400 kg of iridium; the new catalyst reduces this to less than 100 kg per GW. Combining ruthenium and iridium oxide, the innovation delivers exceptional catalytic activity and stability, as confirmed by Chicago-based startup Mattiq through rigorous testing.

This catalyst can achieve up to 50 times higher mass activity than iridium oxide and remains stable in operational conditions. It represents a significant stride in making hydrogen production more economically feasible, with a potential 90% reduction in capital expenditure on material costs.

Heraeus executive VP Dr. Philipp Walter emphasizes the economic and supply benefits of this catalyst, which are crucial for scaling up the hydrogen industry. Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman supports this, acknowledging the sustainable demand for these metals as beneficial for the industry.

Heraeus already offers another iridium-saving catalyst in its hydrogen economy portfolio. Christian Gebauer, head of R&D hydrogen systems at Heraeus, notes the importance of versatile solutions for different operational settings, with the long-term goal of reducing iridium content to 15 kg per GW. This innovation opens doors for hyperscaling post-2030, marking a significant milestone in the sustainable hydrogen industry and the future of green energy.

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