Complex Problems need innovative solutions:

At the end of 2021, we set ourselves a challenge: to bring the safe on-site generation and storage of hydrogen as an alternative energy source to all.

To democratise

To build something initially small
but massively scalable

To build something that people
feel safe to use in their home

None of these goals are easily reached

The commercial challenges are as big as the technical.

Where the solutions exist we work
with the most suitable suppliers.

Where they don’t, we develop strategic partnerships with those who are trying to solve a problem in ways, we find exciting.

And/or we
innovate internally.

3 Questions drive everything we do:

  • How safe is this: Would we be happy to have it in our home? 
  • What is its environmental impact?
  • Can the price to the consumer be significantly reduced as production scales up? 

Our journey so far...

Our journey started with trying to make Hydrogen

1. Generating Hydrogen

We looked at the methods for generating hydrogen and decided to use a PEM electrolyser. The search for a suitable one led to many dead ends. 

The Challenges

  • Electrolysers are far too expensive because traditional demand has been for lab or industrial-scale devices.
  • The constituent materials of existing electrolysers are inherently expensive: they use catalysts such as Platinum and Iridium and the global shortage of Iridium will likely pose a real threat to hydrogen production.
  • Most electrolysers use a membrane called Nafion that is not only expensive but also has poor green credentials, in terms of both its production and disposal – it does not biodegrade.

Our Solution

  • Partner with leading electrolyser technology companies to produce the earth-friendly components we need.
  • Partner with patent-holding, game-changing non precious metal catalyst developers to explore building platinum-free electrolysers. 
  • Investigate and partner with companies developing innovative, cost effective membranes.

2. Storing Hydrogen

Hydrogen has a high theoretical energy density but storing it is not easy. 
The options are to Liquify, Pressurise or Use a Carrier.

The Challenges

  • Liquification: Storing hydrogen in its liquid state gives the highest energy density. However, unlike LPG, Hydrogen cannot easily be liquified: it has to be cooled down to -253 degrees and kept there, which takes a lot of energy.
  • Pressurisation: This is the most common way to store hydrogen (and how it is typically stored for use in vehicles) and there is a lot of development into high pressure tanks made from steel and carbon fibre. The energy density is good but it takes a lot of energy to compress hydrogen to the required levels (300-700atm – 75-175X more pressure than bike wheel). Many of the large industrial electrolysers can generate hydrogen at very high pressure but this can present a challenge at the smaller scales TFE is exploring. There are also significant safety concerns around working with gas at this significant pressure in a domestic setting.
  • Using a carrier: Using another material as a hydrogen carrier can be a great idea. Metal hydride is one such carrier which offers significant benefits from a safety perspective. It can operate at comparatively low pressures (10-30atm) and the hydrogen is chemically bonded to it; This means accidental release of large amounts of hydrogen is unlikely, and the storage is stable over a long period of time. We therefore opted to take the hydride storage route but once again struggled to find exactly what we were looking for for our particular application: Whilst fairly well established, hydrides are still very much in their infancy from a commercial perspective and are typically expensive and difficult to manage. 

Our Solution

  • Innovative hydride: We have partnered with Nottingham University to use their innovative hydride product and to tap into their wealth of knowledge around it: Their hydride solution scales well as it avoids inherently expensive materials, which reduces the overall cost by 75%. We are using this hydride together with some innovative control systems, developed by TFE to fill and discharge the gas both for the full Smart Tank system and a standalone hydrogen storage tank.


3. Safely using Hydrogen

Hydrogen has different properties to the LPG  that we are used to and concerns around its safety are certainly a barrier to its adoption.

The Challenges

  • Hydrogen burns quickly and at a high temperature, faster and hotter than LPG.
  • It is odourless and difficult to detect if leaks have occurred.   
  • Hydrogen detection systems are expensive and designed for labs and industrial use.

Our Solution

  • We are building our own range of inexpensive hydrogen detectors similar to smoke alarms.
  • They will be connected to our smart tank and potentially other hydrogen sources so that gas can be automatically cut off and they are internet-connected to allow for mobile alerts etc.

We are always open to new conversations

Contact Us