Czech Ideas workshop - Hydrogen innovations for a greener tomorrow

On 26th September 2023, an international online seminar called CZECH IDEAS WORKSHOP took place in the online background of the Technology Agency with the aim of connecting current research projects with potential customers and investors.

This year’s theme was hydrogen and innovative projects advancing hydrogen technologies.

Key partners involved in organizing the seminar included the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic, EGAP, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and CzechTRADE Agency. The seminar was moderated by Mr. Ing. David Havlíček, Ph.D., CFA, Chairman of the Board of EGAP.
The main part of the seminar featured presentations of two Czech research projects.

The first presentation introduced the solution of a modular hydrogen generator by Professor RNDr. Vladimír Matolín, DrSc., from LEANCAT s.r.o. Professor Matolín pointed out that LEANCAT s.r.o.’s primary goal is to develop a concept of a modular PEM electrolyzer that can be easily tailored to customer requirements. They aim is to achieve cost-effective and sustainable hydrogen production on a large scale. This goal aligns with current trends in reducing the carbon mark in the energy sector.

The project has two pillars. First, it focuses on the development of compact PEM water electrolyzers with high durability, mainly due to the use of titanium as a structural material and applying anti-corrosion coatings. The second pillar involves the development of a 5 kW electrolyzer module with a high level of autonomy due to its self-control (thanks to a single chip). The advantage is the ability to connect multiple modules to achieve the required output.

Professor Matolín mentioned that the United States, European Union countries, as well as China and India are among the main potential customers, and the company aims to be competitive, particularly in nearby markets where demand for “compact size” hydrogen technologies is growing rapidly.

In the second part of the seminar, Mr. Ing. Tomáš Němec, Ph.D., from the Institute of Thermomechanics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, accompanied by Mr. Ing. Bc. Miroslav Kludský, Ph.D., from ÚJV Řež, a. s., presented their joint project, “Catalyst nanomaterials and catalyst layers for hydrogen technologies”.

The ITCAS project, in cooperation with ÚJV Řež, a. s., focuses on the development of metallic nanoparticles as catalysts for chemical reactions and the application of catalytic layers for membrane-electrode-assemblies (MEA), which are used in hydrogen fuel cells, with platinum being a key element. Platinum can also be used to produce platinum catalysts in powder form for other applications.

The laboratory equipment is based on innovative spark discharge technology for producing platinum nanoparticles, and a semi-industrial scale has already been manufactured and is undergoing intensive testing. The entire setup is currently at TRL-4 level. The main advantage is the purity of the produced platinum or iridium nanoparticles, along with a low amount of waste material. The entire nanoparticle production process occurs in the gas phase, offering significant simplifications compared to standard methods of nanoparticle synthesis in liquid solutions.

However, the collaboration between ITCAS and ÚJV extends beyond this project, with other topics such as the development of a hydrogen-powered ship in cooperation with Taiwanese partners and testing of fuel stacks, among others.

The current aim of the cooperation between ITCAS and ÚJV is to improve the technology’s parameters and optimize it for the market according to technical and safety standards. These technologies are already prepared for further R&D and market application.

In conclusion, a brief discussion took place during the seminar, touching on future economic aspects, the affordability of innovative hydrogen technologies, their potential applications in various types of transportation, and their use in medical devices sensitive to power outages.

In conclusion, a brief discussion touched on future economic aspects, the affordability of innovative hydrogen technologies, their potential applications in various transportation sectors, and their use in power-sensitive medical devices.

In response to the seminar, Mr. Havlíček from EGAP also noted:

“What impressed me the most was that the presenters interacted with each other and discussed their technical solutions. Overall, both presentations made it clear that the role of hydrogen will continue to grow in the future, and the focus today is on finding the best, safe, and cost-effective technology for its production.

Hydrogen production can also make sense for specific purposes, even in smaller quantities, and it’s good to see that in the Czech Republic, we have companies dealing with this issue and already offering practical solutions for its production. Hydrogen can be used for cars, trains, as well as stationary sources of electrical energy, which may be beneficial in the future due to the volatile energy consumption patterns throughout the day and, more importantly, over the course of the year.”

We hope that the representatives will succeed in attracting potential interest in the near future. We will closely monitor their market successes and wish them the best of luck in their research activities.