A new report by the World Bank and the Hydrogen Council has been published, analysing how the availability of critical raw materials – particularly metals – could impact the growth of clean hydrogen. The report represents an advancement in collective knowledge around hydrogen technologies and highlights the important role that platinum group metals (PGMs) will play.
Platinum and iridium are particularly important for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells and PEM electrolyser technology to produce green hydrogen, respectively.
Alastair Judge, JM's Chief Executive for Platinum Group Metal Services said:
“PGMs are key components of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells and PEM electrolyser technology to produce green hydrogen. The report rightly concludes that platinum is a well-supplied metal with established mined and recycled supply that is ready for this major new market, but it also highlights the lack of understanding regarding the iridium market – particularly as PEM electrolyser technology is rapidly developing.
“The demand for platinum in the jewellery market is in decline and, in the longer term, the auto catalyst market will decline as the world moves away from fossil fuels. Together, these markets account for more than 50% of all platinum used today, meaning hydrogen technologies will be an important replacement demand for the future.
“Knowledge of the iridium market is not as developed, particularly in the rapidly evolving area of PEM electrolysis, which can make it difficult to project future requirements for the metal, as is the case in this report. JM’s PGM expertise across the value chain gives it a unique insight that has enabled it to refine the assumptions used to estimate the iridium requirements for electrolytic hydrogen production. Even using as little as 1.5 tonnes of iridium per year (around 20% of primary supply), PEM electrolysis technology has the potential to achieve more than 100 GW of green hydrogen capacity by 2030, >500 GW by 2040 and >1500 GW by 2050.
“JM has a unique view across the value chain from PGM sourcing to using these metals in fuel cell and electrolyser components and then recycling them for reuse. With this expertise, we know that through thrifting and recycling, there will be sufficient iridium supply to support the required ramp-up in hydrogen demand."
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The World Bank report was informed by data collected by the Hydrogen Council from its members. As a member of the Hydrogen Council, Johnson Matthey (JM) contributed data to the report and shared its market knowledge to help inform projections for the growth of hydrogen technologies.