AES Semigas


18 December 2023

CSA Catapult highlights role of compound semiconductors in the green hydrogen ecosystem

Compound semiconductors have the potential to play a crucial role in enhancing the efficiency and reliability of the UK’s hydrogen ecosystem, according to a new white paper issued by the Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult.

Established in 2018 by Innovate UK, CSA Catapult is a centre of excellence with equipment that specializes in the measurement, characterization, integration and validation of compound semiconductor technology across four areas: power electronics, advanced packaging, radio frequency (RF) and microwave, and photonics. As a not-for-profit organization, it is focused on accelerating the adoption of compound semiconductors in three key areas (the road to Net Zero, future telecoms and intelligent sensing). Headquartered in Newport, South Wales, it works across the UK in a range of industry sectors, from automotive to medical, and from digital communications to aerospace.

The new report outlines five areas where compound semiconductors could significantly enhance the hydrogen ecosystem:

  • renewable energy generation;
  • power electronics for electrolysis;
  • applications in transportation;
  • enhanced microgrids;
  • advanced sensors for hydrogen detection.

Compared with traditional silicon-based devices such as higher power density, faster switching speeds and reduced power losses, the superior material properties of compound semiconductors makes them an ideal choice for a variety of green energy applications, including electric vehicles, renewable energy systems and power grids, notes the report.

Compound semiconductors can also enhance the performance of energy storage systems and smart grids and can therefore play an important role in transitioning towards a more sustainable energy system.

The report identifies fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV), which use hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity for the vehicle’s electric motor, as the most promising area for compound semiconductors. Power electronics components built using compound semiconductors can significantly improve the efficiency, reliability and overall performance of the FCEV powertrain.

“Hydrogen is considered a crucial element in decarbonizing the UK industry, promoting clean growth and enhancing our long-term energy security,” says David Chow, head of market intelligence at CSA Catapult. The UK government’s Hydrogen Strategy sets out an approach to develop a thriving low-carbon hydrogen sector in the UK to meet its ambition for 10GW of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. “Compound semiconductors offer significant benefits for green hydrogen applications, particularly in FCEVs across the transport spectrum, ranging from HGVs to trains and aircraft,” adds Chow. “Though other applications may take longer to become commercially viable, it is clear that compound semiconductors will be crucial in improving the generation, transportation and consumption of hydrogen and helping the UK meet its hydrogen goals.”

The new report is an output of the Hydrogen Innovation Initiative (HII) — a cross-Catapult project aimed at creating an interconnected ecosystem that leverages the strengths, resources and regional presence of organizations to advance the development of a green hydrogen economy in the UK.

HII’s mission is to support UK industry to anchor high-value jobs, boost resilience and drive decarbonization by accelerating the development of critical technologies and supply chains for the fast-growing hydrogen economy.

Tags: CSA Catapult



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