How Chemours’ Chemistries Are Helping To Sustainably Scale the Hydrogen Economy

Chemours Nafion™ ion exchange materials are essential to global decarbonization and the clean energy transition and play a vital role in helping the world to meet growing hydrogen demand.
Nov 20, 2023 10:00 AM ET
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Originally published by Hydrogen Council 

One of the hydrogen industry’s biggest challenges is the need to quickly and exponentially scale a new supply chain that can support rapid advancement toward a global Hydrogen Economy, especially in the face of geopolitical challenges. Hydrogen Council member The Chemours Company plays a key role in moving the Hydrogen Economy forward and driving decarbonization at a global scale.

Nafion™ ion exchange materials: a critical material in the hydrogen economy

Built on more than 50 years of experience, Chemours’ Nafion™ ion exchange materials—including proton exchange membranes (PEM) and dispersions—are at the heart of technologies critical to scaling the hydrogen economy, including fuel cells, flow batteries, and water electrolysis.

Water electrolysis, a sustainable method for generating large amounts of renewable and low carbon hydrogen, is projected to reach a market size of USD$3.7 billion by 2023.[i] Chemours’ Nafion™ materials are essential to this method of scaling the hydrogen economy, as they facilitate water electrolysis more efficiently than other commercial alternatives. Water electrolysis has also been shown to be commercially viable only when fluorinated dispersions and membranes like Nafion™ are used in these systems, and these materials are the only ones that have consistently demonstrated the performance required to meet the lifetime needs of electrolyzers.

Scaling operations around the world to meet hydrogen demand

Given the increasing demand for sustainable energy solutions, renewable and low carbon hydrogen generation through PEM water electrolyzers will play a crucial role in the future. There is already a growing demand for PEM technology, as demonstrated by the year over year increase in global installed electrolysis capacity.[ii]

Chemours has taken significant steps to scale its operations to meet this demand. In October 2022, the company announced a planned $200 million investment at its site in Villers-Saint-Paul, France to increase capacity and advance technology for our industry-leading Nafion™ materials to support the hydrogen economy. This recent investment demonstrates that this scale up is happening – and should happen – on both sides of the Atlantic to boost technological progress and advance the clean energy transition.

In the United States, Chemours is equally focused on scaling its operations to meet the growing domestic demand for renewable and low carbon hydrogen and is continuing to invest in capacity and innovation to produce more Nafion™ membranes and dispersions, through responsible manufacturing.

But scaling the pipeline at the speed necessary to achieve a global hydrogen economy cannot be done through superior chemistry alone. Innovation and growth require regulatory certainty, a strong permitting structure, and solutions to make renewable and low carbon hydrogen more widely available and affordable. Moreover, as the Hydrogen Council recently noted, science-based evaluation and a thoughtful approach to risk mitigation and management is needed in order to create regulatory frameworks that support the creation of raw materials central to clean energy technology. Without ion exchange membranes, the emission-neutral production of hydrogen is simply not achievable in the near future.

Continued commitment to scaling up and helping the world meet decarbonization goals

The future growth of the global hydrogen market requires science and collaboration across public and private sectors and academia to ensure we’re working together toward a shared purpose: upscaling of renewable and low carbon hydrogen production and solutions to reach the world’s ambitious climate goals. Strategic investments across the whole hydrogen value chain will be essential for future growth – from research and development to end-use – in order to ensure a reliable supply chain and robust capacity that is needed to advance, grow, and fast-track the implementation of hydrogen solutions.

The expansion of the hydrogen economy is a global undertaking, and Chemours is committed to supporting this expansion through responsible manufacturing and support for regulatory and policy frameworks that are grounded in the best available science in order to foster the energy transition and make economies more sustainable.

[i]Future Market Insights

[ii]Hydrogen Council 2023 Insights

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