De Nora, in line with its strategic plan to focus on the Electrode business and promote new technologies, entered into a license agreement with BASF SA for the right to manufacture and market Gas-Diffusion Electrodes (GDE) suitable for use in PEM Fuel Cells.
At the same time De Nora regained full ownership of the well recognized E-Tek brand.
The involvement of De Nora in the Gas Diffusion Electrodes business dates back to the early nineties when De Nora took over a small R&D company, E-Tek Inc., that was developing the first prototypes of gas-diffusion electrodes to be used in electrochemical separations for hydrogen purification as well as supported catalysts. De Nora boosted the performances of E-Tek products and strengthened their brand awareness, developed new industrial applications thus proving a brand new family of GDE for the production of chlorine from hydrochloric acid and for use as depolarized cathode in Chlor Alkali electrolysis, maintaining as well the focus on GDEs and Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) suitable for PEM Fuel Cells applications.
De Nora contributed the PEM Fuel Cells business of E-Tek business to Pemeas that soon after became BASF Fuel Cells, while maintaining only the industrial GDEs in its portfolio. The decision of BASF to exit the Fuel Cells Business created the opportunity to bring back also the GDEs and MEA for Fuel Cells applications as well as the identification of E-Tek brand product portfolio to De Nora.
“This operation is further enlarging the already well established De Nora portfolio of gas diffusion electrodes for industrial applications, like HCl or Chlor Alkali processes” stated, Paolo Dellachà, Chief Executive Officer De Nora: “Over the last few years, De Nora manufactured over 100,000 square meters of gas diffusion electrodes that are now in continuous operations in the chemicals plants of major chemical companies worldwide. The agreement will grant De Nora the opportunity to exploit in full the installed manufacturing capacity granted by a commercial line sized to produce tens of thousand square meters of electrodes with highly automated processes".
“The possibility to manufacture and sell E-Tek GDE technologies for use in PEM Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Separation applications represents an important enrichment of De Nora product portfolio and reinforce De Nora leadership and visibility in the market – added Robert Scannell, Chief Regional Officer EMEA – It is an important milestone to further advance our position in the fast moving energy field, being a focal point of our Business Strategy.”
Gas diffusion electrodes are essential components in membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) suitable for use in high temperature PEM Fuel Cells for combined heat and power generation. High temperature MEAs, when operating at a temperature higher than 100°C, ensure simpler systems and better tolerance to impurities . GDEs are ultimately responsible for the Fuel Cells performances in terms of power and durability and represent a significant portion of the costs for MEAs.