A Canadian manufacturer of unique 50MW electrolyser modules, Hydrogen Optimized Inc (HOI), has appointed Denis Krude — who led rival electrolyser maker Thyssenkrupp Nucera until June 2022 — as its new president and CEO.

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The appointment was made by company co-founder and current CEO Andrew Stuart, who will step down in April and move to executive chairman.

HOI is expanding its current 100MW-a-year factory in Owen Sound, Ontario, to 500MW by this summer, offering both 12.5MW and 50MW standard single modules (or customisation to any size in between), with future expansion to 2GW planned as demand grows.

The 50MW module can output one tonne of hydrogen per hour at an efficiency of 42-51kWh/kg.

The Canadian company has a unique “unipolar” alkaline electrolyser technology based on the “Stuart cell” invented by Andrew’s grandfather in 1912, which was the basis for most commercial electrolysers for decades.

It calls its module “Rugged Cell”, a reference to its 20-years-plus operating lifetime and low cost of materials, and says it has the benefits of PEM and standard “bipolar” alkaline electrolysers.

In other words, it has small spatial and carbon footprints; can respond in seconds to wide variations in power supply from wind and solar power; can ramp up from cold start to 100% in less than a minute; requires no expensive platinum group metals or PFAS (a “forever chemical” that the EU wants to ban); wide dynamic range of 0-100%; and its Stuart cell design has more than 100 years of proven operation across 1,000 plants in 100 countries.

“The Stuart unipolar platform also compares favourably on an array of technology characteristics that offer important benefits, particularly for large scale installations,” says the HOI website. “These include low current density, operation at high amperes, low cost of materials, long asset lifespan, relatively low spare parts cost, and a low capital investment.

“The system’s “at scale” design makes it possible to have fewer large modules instead of multiple smaller modules, thereby decreasing system complexity, and streamlining design, construction, installation and maintenance. This in turn facilitates the deployment of very large installations in “real world” renewable energy conditions, including at remote locations.”

Krude was CEO of Thyssenkrupp Nucera in March 2022 when it changed names from Thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers (a throwback to its history as a chlor-alkali electrolyser maker), which he had led since 2016.

However, the 54-year-old German national was replaced by current Nucera CEO Werner Ponikwar in July 2022, but installed as chief operating officer and deputy CEO until his resignation “by mutual agreement” in March 2023.

“The unique focus of Hydrogen Optimized on large-scale water electrolysis solutions for major, hard-to-abate industries aligns with my view that this market segment offers the most significant opportunity in clean hydrogen,” Krude said. "With a strong foundation built on the Stuart family's 120-year legacy in high-power water electrolysis, I see enormous opportunity for Hydrogen Optimized to become a world leader in clean hydrogen.”

Stuart added: “I am delighted that Denis has chosen to join the Hydrogen Optimized team as CEO as we enter an exciting new phase of our company's commercial development.

“With proven executive experience in the sale and deployment of green hydrogen production plants, Denis is uniquely well-positioned to lead our company in the emerging large-scale clean hydrogen technology market.”

HOI is a subsidiary of privately owned Key DH Technologies, which is part-owned by Swiss electrical giant ABB.