Engineering of Scalable Platinum-free Electrodes for Pure-Water AEM Water Electrolysis

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Special Projects
Palo Alto,
Project Term:
08/09/2021 - 02/08/2023

Critical Need:

This topic seeks to support entrepreneurial energy discoveries, by identifying and supporting disruptive concepts in energy-related technologies within small businesses and collaborations with universities and national labs. These projects have the potential for large-scale impact, and if successful could create new paradigms in energy technology with the potential to achieve significant reductions in U.S. energy consumption, energy-related imports, or energy-related emissions. These specific projects address technology areas across ARPA-E’s mission spaces, with particular focus on: Advanced bioreactors; Approaches and tools to create enhanced geothermal systems; Non-evaporative dehydration and drying technologies; Approaches to significantly enhance the rate and/or potential scale of carbon mineralization; Separation of CO2 from ambient air (direct air capture); High-rate separation of dissolved inorganic carbon from the ocean to produce a CO2 stream; Advanced trees and other engineered biological systems for carbon sequestration; Innovative deep ocean collector designs for mining polymetallic nodules; Environmental sensors capable of operation in deep ocean environments for mining polymetallic nodules; and Non-carbothermic smelting technologies. Awards under this topic are working to support research and establish potential new areas for technology development, while providing ARPA-E with information that could lead to new focused funding programs. The focus of these projects is to support exploratory research to establish viability, proof-of-concept demonstration for new energy technology, and/or modeling and simulation efforts to guide development for new energy technologies.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Green hydrogen, which is produced with renewable energy and electrolysis, can reduce emissions for the ammonia fertilizer, refineries, chemicals, and steel industries that use hydrogen as a feedstock. Existing water electrolysis technologies are expensive due to high materials cost or complex balance-of-plant systems required when using conventional alkaline electrolysis. The ARPA-E IONICS program developed highly conductive, chemically stable anion exchange membranes that are now commercially produced. Origen Hydrogen aims to develop high-performance, platinum-free electrodes to compliment these breakthrough materials for pure-water electrolysis operation. The team will use engineered low-cost, scalable electrodes that are resistant to the most common degradation pathways.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Grigorii Soloveichik
Project Contact:
Garrett Huang
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


University of South Carolina
Pajarito Powder, LLC

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