GIGA-SCALES: smarter membranes for lower-cost hydrogen production


Thanks to an €11 million grant from the Innovation Fund, the GIGA-SCALES project is set to establish an industrial-scale production plant for innovative ZIRFON membranes. These membranes, crucial for green hydrogen production, act as separators in electrolysers which enhances their efficiency and durability.

Green hydrogen, produced through water electrolysis, is a crucial energy carrier for the clean energy transition. It is created when electricity is passed through electrolysers to split water into its elemental parts, oxygen and hydrogen. This process is powered by renewable energy. The ZIRFON membranes increase the electrolysers’ productivity which significantly boosts the efficiency and lifespan of electrolysers. This efficiency allows the cost of electrolyser equipment to be spread over larger hydrogen production volumes, thereby reducing overall production costs.

The new production facility, located near the port of Antwerp, is scheduled to start operations by October 2025 and will produce enough membranes to support 20 gigawatts of electrolyser capacity annually. This capacity translates to an estimated reduction of six million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions over the plant’s first 10 years of operation, which equates to the carbon footprint of over 60,000 EU households​.

The GIGA-SCALES project is well-aligned with the EU’s RePowerEU plan, which aims to diversify Europe’s energy supply and increase investment in renewable energy. By scaling up the production of ZIRFON membranes, the project will not only help to meet the rising demand for hydrogen, but also spur growth in Europe’s electrolyser capacity. This project is set to create over 1,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2035, boosting local economies and attracting further business investments​.

The company’s collaboration with VITO, a leader in applied technological research, underscores its commitment to developing efficient and cost-effective hydrogen production solutions. This partnership and the new production facility represent significant steps toward achieving Europe’s climate neutrality goals​​.

The Agfa-Gevaert Group, with over 150 years of expertise in imaging technology and IT solutions, continues to innovate across various sectors. The €11 million grant from the Innovation Fund, one of the largest investment programmes for net-zero and innovative technologies, is pivotal in realising the GIGA-SCALES project. Funded by the EU Emissions Trading System, the Innovation Fund focuses on groundbreaking projects that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions​.This ambitious project not only enhances Agfa’s role in the green hydrogen sector but also contributes significantly to the broader goals of environmental sustainability and economic development in Europe.

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