Advancing Sustainable Energy Fuels Innovative Process

Dec 12, 2023

I'm Jesse Li, a mechanical engineer and project coordinator at Utility Global. My earliest memories as a budding engineer date back to a middle school project where I built a wind turbine model. That tiny, 5-volt creation sparked a great dream within me—one where I play a role in transforming the energy landscape through technical innovation. At Utility Global, this dream has taken a tangible shape, most notably with one of our latest projects, a proprietary solid oxide cell coating system.

Innovative Coating Process for Green Hydrogen Production

The coater isn't just a piece of machinery; it's a prime example of innovation at Utility Global and our commitment to sustainable energy. Comprising three coating machines in series, this setup revolutionizes our company's electrochemical coating processes. Our days of meticulous, time-consuming pilot-scale operations are finally over. Today, our commercial-scale production is able to churn out hundreds of thousands of coated cells annually, each primed to drive the waste gas-to-hydrogen conversion process.

But what do these coatings do? At their core, they serve as the electrolyte and electrodes for our solid oxide cells. In simpler terms, the layers of our reactor cells are akin to the engines within cars. It is this unique formulation that distinguishes Utility Global's technology, enabling effective hydrogen production and pushing the boundaries of electrolysis for hydrogen that does not require renewable electricity.

Navigating Challenges in Solid Oxide Cell Coating Innovation

My journey with the solid oxide cell coating system has been both challenging and rewarding. The road to creating this sophisticated system was filled with intricate puzzles, requiring collaboration with other companies, managing supply-chain intricacies and ensuring seamless communication across Utility Global’s offices. Every hurdle surmounted has been a lesson in resilience, adaptability and the sheer power of effective collaboration.

Inspirational Collaboration for Green Hydrogen Advancement

Two individuals, in particular, have been pillars of support during this journey—Paul Matthews, our Director of Ceramic Manufacturing, and Damian Lape, a Research Engineer. Their combined expertise, unwavering faith in the project, and collaborative ethos have been nothing short of inspirational. Together, we didn't just build machines; we crafted a major contribution to the future of green hydrogen—or better stated, net-zero carbon intensity hydrogen.

Paving the Way for Automation

Beyond its technical prowess, the coating system embodies efficiency. Imagine a relay race where every participant is in perfect sync, passing the baton seamlessly. Designed to detect cells, maneuver the cells for even coating, and then move them to the next machine without manual intervention, the coating system epitomizes automation. As cells move through this relay, they receive coatings that are not only precise but also adhere to our own rigorous quality standards.

Entrusting the Legacy of Sustainable Decarbonization

In an insightful conversation over breakfast, Claus Nussgruber, our CEO, once shared his vision with me. He sees the energy transition as the greatest gift and obligation from his generation to ours. This isn't just about technology or business; it's about passing down a legacy of decarbonization and trust in the unbounded inventiveness of us humans. With this coating system, I feel we've advanced this legacy. We've taken modest, lab-scale processes and amplified them, allowing our setup to stand proudly alongside the giants in our industry.

Charting the Course for a Sustainable Energy Future

In the grand mission of Utility Global, our new coating system is a vital thread. It's more than a machine; it symbolizes our relentless drive toward a world powered by low-carbon intensity hydrogen. I feel a special gratitude for the challenges that honed my skills, for colleagues who became mentors, and for being part of a mission that's bigger than any individual—our shared quest for a cleaner, sustainable world.