Just Split Water

Just Split Water

Electrolysis – probably a word you’ve heard, especially lately as the hydrogen race gathers pace across the globe. As we all know there is a colourful spectrum of hydrogen – grey, blue, green but to truly tackle the climate crisis with hydrogen as one of the main pillars, green is the only way to go and that’s where electrolysis has entered.

Electrolysis is the process where water is split into hydrogen and oxygen using an electric current & If renewable energy is used, the hydrogen has a zero-carbon footprint and is classed as green – the good stuff! The EU’s Hydrogen Strategy, announced in July, puts huge focus on this technology with a strategic objective to install at least 6 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU by 2024 and 40 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers by 2030. Many other projects focusing on this technology have been announced in recent months – Just this week BP has announced it has teamed up with Ørsted to transform one of its oldest refineries with an industrial scale 50MW electrolyser which when operational in 2024 could generate one tonne of renewable hydrogen per hour.

For the last three years, I have been working towards a PhD focusing on mass transport aspects in water electrolysers, improving the efficiency of this key technology to producing clean hydrogen. But electrolysis technology is also a promising candidate for large-scale energy storage in combination with intermittent renewable energy sources. A stable electricity grid dominated by renewables without large energy storage capacities, provided for example by water electrolysis and fuel cell technology, is very hard to realise.

Having spent the last 3 years doing academic research in the field of hydrogen production, I am well aware of the significance of step changes in fuel cell technology. While the technology required for a hydrogen-based economy already exists, high costs have long hindered the rollout of electrolysers and fuel cells at scale. Significant improvements in manufacturing costs of these devices are required to drive the world economy towards Net Zero and build a sustainable future. Bramble’s PCB-based manufacturing offers the opportunity to significantly reduce cost and weight for fuel cells and electrolysers.

This isn’t the first time I have had the pleasure of working with Bramble Energy – two years ago I worked on a project developing electrochemical generators with Tom, Erik & Vidal and with this in mind I did not even hesitate when I was offered the opportunity to take up a permanent role at the company after hearing of their successful Series A funding round and big move to Gatwick.

My work at Bramble will be centred around the design and testing of liquid-cooled fuel cell systems, which play a central role in Bramble’s strategy to tackle the automotive market. Only liquid-cooled fuel cells can provide the high power needed for demanding applications in hydrogen hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. But I will also evaluate the compatibility of materials for new platform technologies and adapt the design of cells and stacks to account for the changing physical conditions. This will open up the path for Bramble to become a player not only in the fuel cell market, but maybe even in the production of hydrogen with water electrolysers, creating new market opportunities and making Net Zero a reality.

After many years in different universities and academic research, I’m really excited to be part of this transformation and see Bramble making a significant impact on clean energy solutions. We’re ready to put Gatwick on the map!

Dr Maximilian Maier

Design Engineer, Bramble Energy

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