Press release

Membrane production plant to obtain hydrogen

18 November 2022
Planta de producción de membranas para obtener hidrógeno

H2SITE opens the first production plant for palladium alloy membranes to obtain hydrogen

  • H2SITE came about in 2019 from the collaboration of the TECNALIA applied research and technological development centre, through its deep tech venture builder, TECNALIA Ventures, with Eindhoven University of Technology (TUe), and culminates its industrialisation with the participation in its shareholding of ENGIE New Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, EQUINOR Ventures and institutional investors from the Basque Country (Capital Riesgo País Vasco (CRPV) and Seed Capital Bizkaia (SCB)
  • Located in Loiu (Bizkaia), this is a pioneering plant for the production of palladium alloy membranes to obtain and separate high purity hydrogen
  • The company already has orders worth more than €5 million euros in 2022
  • H2SITE membrane reactors and separators convert common molecules , such as methanol or ammonia, into high purity hydrogen using well-known logistic chains at a cost significantly below market standards

Loiu, 9th November 2022. Hydrogen is taking another step forward as a solution to companies' decarbonisation needs thanks to H2SITE, which has started up the world's first plant to manufacture palladium alloy membranes to obtain hydrogen from ammonia or methanol, and to separate hydrogen from gas mixtures. The new facility aims to industrialise the production of membranes, used in the construction of reactors and integrated hydrogen production separators. The main characteristic of these membranes is that they are made of palladium alloy, offering maximum purity hydrogen, but their cost and fragility make them very complex to obtain, obstacles that H2SITE has managed to overcome.

Located in Loiu (Bizkaia), the new plant has a production capacity of several tens of thousands of membranes. For the creation of this pioneering plant, H2SITE has invested more than € 3 million, which it plans to double in the coming years to increase production capacity.

"Once the first equipment has been validated, our goal is to significantly increase the plant's capacity, vertically integrate membrane manufacturing and apply the process in new plants to reach new markets," according to Andrés Galnares, CEO of H2SITE. For the medium term, "our goal is to multiply the number of membranes produced each year over the next three years, which means continuing to invest in production assets similar to those we have already installed, and increasing their level of automation in order to reduce our costs".

In 2022, H2SITE has orders worth more than € 5 million. Galnares assures that the aim is to double this figure over the coming year, reaching a workforce of more than 50 professionals.

Asier Rufino, CEO of TECNALIA Ventures and President of H2SITE, states that "at TECNALIA, we have been working on the development and scaling up of hydrogen technologies for the entire hydrogen value chain for 20 years: production, distribution, transport and storage of hydrogen and its end uses. And so, the technology emerged in collaboration with Eindhoven University of Technology, enabling H2SITE to present the world with a unique solution for hydrogen production and transportation. H2SITE has scaled up the process, industrialised it and is managing to reduce the unit cost of the membranes so that they can be used in scenarios that were not previously contemplated”.

Hydrogen storage and transportation are two of the biggest problems facing the sector, as the cost of hydrogen generation can be increased by 60-300% due to transportation, compression and storage costs.

Rufino says that the sectors they are currently targeting "are in heavy and maritime mobility, as well as industry that requires high-purity hydrogen. At the moment, we are focusing on Northern and Western Europe, where there are pioneering movements in the use of hydrogen”. However, they are also already working on projects to separate hydrogen from natural gas networks, where regulations are evolving towards an injection of up to 5% hydrogen mixed with methane, or in consortiums devoted to the construction of pure hydrogen pipelines, where it is often necessary to solve purity issues at the point of consumption to cope with mobility uses.

Distributed hydrogen as a solution to intermittent energy storage

Hydrogen is a gas that offers a solution to the problem of storing energy for long periods of time. It helps to overcome one of the challenges of renewable energy generation: its intermittent production unrelated to demand. Of the 94 million tonnes produced in 2021, almost all went to the chemical industry and refineries. The development of hydrogen for new applications, such as heavy and maritime mobility, involves the need for new technologies to cope with its transportation in more distributed consumption scenarios.

"This plant reflects the success story of more than 10 years of venture building initiated by TECNALIA and TUe and supported by the Public Administration from the outset. H2SITE culminates it with the industrialisation of a disruptive process thanks to the help of investors who believe in technology as a lever for the energy transition, such as ENGIE New Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures EQUINOR Ventures and institutional investors from the Basque Country (Capital Riesgo País Vasco (CRPV) and Seed Capital Bizkaia (SCB). Together with the team that we have already put together, we cannot aspire to have better partners at this time", says Galnares.

The model of membrane reactors and separators will help to provide small and medium scale hydrogen with high purity and a limited cost, with an initial focus on industrial sectors with the greatest need for decarbonisation(hard to abate) and heavy and maritime mobility.

Therefore H2SITE seeks to become an international reference in the production and separation of low carbon hydrogen, and therefore play a major role in the much-needed energy transition.

About H2SITE

H2SITE came about in December 2019 from the collaboration of the TECNALIA applied research and technological development centre, through its deep tech venture builder, TECNALIA Ventures, with the French company, ENGIE New Ventures, and the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUe). It boasts exclusive membrane reactor and separator technology for the conversion of different raw materials, such as ammonia, methanol or syngas into hydrogen, as well as the separation of hydrogen from low-concentration gas mixtures.

In 2022, it has launched the world's first and largest decentralised plant to convert ammonia into hydrogen in partnership with the UK Government. It has also closed a €12.5 million capital increase round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, introducing EQUINOR Ventures, CRPV and SCB as new shareholders, with ENGIE New Ventures participating again. This journey culminates with the inauguration of the world's first membrane manufacturing line.