New Canada Research Chair boosts funding for energy-conversion technology

July 20, 2017

New Canada Research Chair Steven Holdcroft and his team have created a high-performance, anion-exchange membrane that could revolutionize hydrogen production and water electrolysis.

Next-generation hydrogen fuel cell and water electrolyser research has received a major funding boost with the appointment of SFU polymer chemist Steven Holdcroft to a Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Electrochemical Materials.

Hydrogen energy-storage solutions are key to establishing a clean and sustainable energy sector.

“Hydrogen can be produced from the excess electricity created by sustainable sources such as wind, solar and hydro-power,” says Holdcroft. “The stored hydrogen can then be used in zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells, whose only by-product is water, or injected into natural gas networks to fuel our homes.”

Holdcroft will use the CRC funding to further his team’s ground-breaking research into novel materials, such as ion-conducting polymers for electrochemical energy conversion, and conjugated polymers for solar fuels.

The team’s work builds on Holdcroft’s design for new plastics that have highly ordered networks of acidic nano-channels. These new materials promise to increase the efficiency of hydrogen production and storage, and realize its use in zero-emission, fuel cell cars.

The team recently created a cost-effective, chemically stable, alkaline-based organic membrane to be used in hydrogen production and water electrolysis. The high-performance, anion-exchange membrane has the potential to revolutionize the industry because alkaline systems mitigate the need for expensive catalysts. The membrane will soon be produced for the commercial market through SFU spin-off, Ionomr Innovations Inc.