Understanding New-Age Electrolyzers: The Pathway to a Hydrogen-Powered Future

August 4, 2023

Electrolyzers, the enigmatic devices harnessing the power of electrochemistry, hold immense promise for a sustainable and greener future. As we unlock the great potential of electrolyzers with ongoing research and advancements in material science, we move closer to a world where hydrogen becomes a clean and accessible energy carrier – transforming the way we power our lives.

From novel catalyst materials to advanced designing concepts, in this blog, we explore the remarkable scientific innovations driving the evolution of electrolyzers.


Advancements in Catalyst Technology

Catalysts are the heart of electrolyzers, driving the electrochemical reactions that produce hydrogen. Scientific research has focused on finding alternative materials to expensive and scarce elements like platinum, which is commonly used as a catalyst in traditional electrolyzers. Recent innovations have introduced earth-abundant and cost-effective catalysts, such as nickel-based materials, transition metal oxides, and metal-organic frameworks.

Earth-Abundant Catalysts: Plentiful elements like nickel, cobalt, iron, and their various combinations that are cost-effective and readily available significantly reduce reliance on expensive and scarce noble metals like platinum. Earth-abundant catalysts have shown promising electrocatalytic activity for both the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) at the anode and the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) at the cathode.

An efficient water splitting catalyst must be designed considering the bond energies of the intermediates as well as the electronic structure of each element. However, apart from thermodynamic and kinetic requirements, resource availability is key to the development of an economically viable electrocatalyst, alongside other factors like conductivity, surface area and current selectivity of the material.

Catalyst developments

Nanomaterials and Nano structuring: Nanomaterials, such as nanoparticles and nanowires, make for improved catalytic active sites, owing to their high surface-area-to-volume ratio. Nano structuring of catalysts enhances their electrochemical performance by improving mass transport of reactants and products, improving overall efficiency of electrolysis.

Molecular Engineering: Catalysts are being designed at the molecular level through computational and theoretical approaches, optimizing their structure for specific catalytic reactions. This allows for the tailoring of active sites and modulation of the coordination sites, leading to higher selectivity and activity, ultimately contributing to efficiency.

Hybrid and Composite Catalysts: Hybrid catalysts combine multiple catalytic materials, exploiting their complementary properties to achieve synergistic effects.

For instance, combining noble metal nanoparticles with earth-abundant materials can result in enhanced catalytic activity and stability while reducing overall catalyst cost.

Catalyst Support Materials: The use of appropriate support materials can improve catalyst stability and prevent aggregation of active sites. Graphene, carbon nanotubes, and metal oxides have been employed as effective catalyst supports, enhancing the durability and reusability of catalysts.

Newtrace’s in-house developed catalyst is expected to economize electricity consumption by 5-6%which eventually will lead to lowering the cost of renewable energy feed to the system. Nano structuring electrodes for water electrolyzers presents an exciting opportunity to revolutionize hydrogen production and contribute to a more sustainable energy ecosystem.

Noteworthily, one common hurdle associated with catalysts is achieving reasonable stability without compromising on the catalytic activity. Our catalyst selection and designing are directed to overcome few of the many sources of stability-collapse like the binder used to tether the nanostructured catalysts to the substrate collector, high surface energy of the nanomaterials, a decrease in conductivity due to overoxidation of the catalyst.

Advanced Electrode Architecture

Electrode designs are pivotal to optimizing the efficiency of electrolyzers. Innovations in electrode architecture have focused on increasing the surface area, improving electron and ion transport, and enhancing catalytic activity.

Three-dimensional porous structures, nanowire arrays, and engineered surface coatings are some of the innovative approaches that have significantly boosted electrode performance. These cutting-edge designs have not only increased hydrogen production rates but also extended the electrode's lifespan, The result has led to more robust and long-lasting electrolyzers.

Advanced electrode architecture is another focal point of research and innovation in the field of electrolysis. Here are some key advancements in electrode architecture:

Three-Dimensional (3D) Electrodes: Traditional planar electrodes have limited surface area for catalytic reactions. Three-dimensional electrode structures, such as porous foams, nanotubes, and nanowires, offer increased surface area and improved mass transport. These architectures provide more active sites for catalysis, reducing overpotential and enhancing overall efficiency.

Core-Shell Electrodes: Core-shell electrode architectures involve coating a conductive core material with a catalytic shell. This design enhances the utilization of expensive catalyst materials by ensuring their presence only at the surface where the reaction occurs, reducing material waste and cost.

Hierarchical Electrodes: Hierarchical electrode structures involve multiple levels of porosity and hierarchy, enabling improved electrolyte penetration and gas diffusion. These structures can be achieved through techniques like sol-gel templating, where porous scaffolds are created and subsequently coated with catalyst materials.

Catalytic Coatings and Surface Modifications: Innovative surface modifications, like controlled surface roughness and functionalized coatings, enhance the adhesion of catalyst materials to the electrode substrate. This promotes improved electrochemical activity and stability, contributing to longer electrode lifespans.

Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing): Additive manufacturing techniques have enabled the fabrication of complex electrode structures with precise control over design and material distribution. 3D printing allows for the creation of customized electrode architectures that can be tailored to specific applications and optimized for performance.

Newtrace’s controlled strategy in designing electrodes exposes more catalytically active surface sites enhancing mass and electron transport. Additionally, our in-house developed electrode architecture induces bifunctional capabilities. This is accredited to synergistic effects caused by the catalytic interface promoting different individual reaction kinetics. This ingenious electrode architecture helped us pave a pathway for developing a dual-electrode electrolyzer system that requires 9-10% lower voltage to drive industrially relevant current densities.


Efficiency Improvements

A common misconception about electrolysis is it being an inefficient process with high energy losses. While it is true that traditional electrolyzers have historically suffered from energy inefficiencies, our approach towards nano structuring electrodes and improved materials, significantly increases the efficiency of our electrolyzers. Additionally, with the advent of our modular and stackable electrolyzer designs, the technology is becoming increasingly scalable.

Apart from a robust electrocatalyst and electrode architecture, an optimized electrolyzer configuration is critical. The optimized inter-electrode gap facilitates minimized area resistance, control mass transfer and provide pertinent electrode geometry flexibility which increases the overall efficiency of our electrolyzer technology.


         Schematic representation of the integrated electrolysis technology for generation of GH2


Smart Control and Automation

Smart control and automation have transformed electrolyzers into intelligent and adaptive systems, optimizing their performance, efficiency, and safety. Advanced control algorithms monitor the operating conditions in real-time, optimizing the electrolysis process based on factors like energy availability, demand, and temperature.

Such innovations ensure that the electrolyzer operates at its peak efficiency, reducing energy wastage and enabling seamless integration with renewable energy sources. Furthermore, automation improves safety and allows for remote monitoring and maintenance, making electrolyzer deployment more convenient and reliable.

Let's delve into the key aspects of smart control and automation in electrolyzers:

Real-time Monitoring and Data Analytics: Sensors and instrumentation provide valuable data on factors like current, voltage, temperature, flow rates, and gas compositions. This data is analyzed using advanced algorithms, enabling precise control and optimization of the electrolysis process.

Adaptive Control Algorithms: Advanced control algorithms adjust the operating parameters as per real-time data. By optimizing the current density, voltage, and flow rates, smart control systems can maintain stable operation, reduce energy wastage, and enhance overall efficiency. Adaptive control ensures that the electrolyzer operates at its peak performance under varying conditions and loads.

Demand Response and Grid Integration: When renewable energy sources like solar or wind produce excess electricity, the electrolyzer can be activated to store the energy as hydrogen. This enables demand response capabilities, ensuring that hydrogen production aligns with the availability of renewable energy and the grid's needs.

Energy Management and Storage: Automation facilitates efficient energy management in electrolyzers. It enables the electrolyzer to prioritize hydrogen production during periods of low energy demand or when excess renewable energy is available. The produced hydrogen can then be stored and used later during peak demand or when renewable energy supply is limited, providing a reliable and flexible energy storage solution.

Safety and Fault Detection: Smart control systems incorporate safety features and fault detection mechanisms to prevent hazardous situations. These systems can detect abnormal operating conditions, such as gas leaks, overheating, or imbalances, and trigger automatic shutdowns or safety protocols to prevent accidents.

Remote Monitoring and Maintenance: Automation enables remote monitoring and diagnostics of electrolyzers. Operators can access real-time data and performance metrics from anywhere, allowing for proactive maintenance and troubleshooting. This remote capability minimizes downtime and ensures continuous and reliable operation.

Human-Machine Interface (HMI): HMIs allow operators to monitor the system, adjust settings, and access essential data in a user-friendly manner, facilitating efficient operation and control.

Integration with Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud Services: Electrolyzers equipped with smart control can be integrated with IoT platforms and cloud services. This integration enables centralized monitoring, data storage, and analysis across multiple electrolyzer units.



The scientific innovations in water electrolyzers have redefined the landscape of clean hydrogen production, making it an essential pillar of the transition to a sustainable energy future. From novel catalyst materials and high-performance PEMs to advanced electrode designs and smart automation, these breakthroughs have significantly improved the efficiency, durability, and applicability of electrolysis. As research and technological advancements continue, the promise of a hydrogen-powered world becomes increasingly attainable.

Newtrace is dedicated to redefining the landscape of industrial water electrolysis, making hydrogen production more sustainable and economically viable. As our technologies mature, we anticipate substantial cost reductions, higher hydrogen production rates, and increased competitiveness against conventional hydrogen production methods.

Newtrace is enabling wide-scale adoption of affordable green Hydrogen through their novel electrolyzer technology to help fight climate change and build a sustainable future for all.  Follow us to stay informed about our updates!

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