What is the difference between the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology and the Anion Exchange Membrane (AEM) technology, and what are the advantages of AEM?

Proton exchange membrane electrolysers (PEM) use a semipermeable membrane made from a solid polymer and designed to conduct protons. While PEM electrolysers provide flexibility, fast response time, and high current density, the widespread commercialization remains a challenge primarily due to

January 11, 2022

Proton exchange membrane electrolysers (PEM) use a semipermeable membrane made from a solid polymer and designed to conduct protons. While PEM electrolysers provide flexibility, fast response time, and high current density, the widespread commercialization remains a challenge primarily due to the cost of the materials required to achieve long lifetimes and performance. Specifically, the highly acidic and corrosive operating environment of the PEM electrolyser cells calls for expensive noble metal catalyst materials (iridium, platinum) and large amounts of costly titanium. This poses a challenge to the scalability of PEM electrolysers.

The anion exchange membrane electrolysers use a semipermeable membrane designed to conduct anions. They are a viable alternative to PEM with all the same strengths and several key advantages that lead to lower cost. Due to the less corrosive nature of the environment, steel can be used instead of titanium for the bipolar plates. Furthermore, AEM electrolysers can tolerate a lower degree of water purity, which reduces the input water system’s complexity and allows filtered rain and tap water.