Toshiba and Furuya announce plans to explore alliance establishing a stable supply network for iridium

Toshiba Furuya iridium
  • Toshiba ESS and Furuya Metal plan to explore an alliance for a stable supply network of iridium.
  • Iridium is a rare metal used in proton exchange membranes (PEM) for hydrogen production.
  • The alliance aims to strengthen the iridium supply chain. Improving the manufacture of membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) with iridium-based technology.
  • PEM water electrolysis produces green hydrogen using electricity from renewables and requires iridium as a catalyst.
  • Toshiba ESS is working on an MEA that reduces iridium usage to 1/10 of traditional methods.

Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation (“Toshiba ESS”) and Furuya Metal Co., Ltd. (“Furuya”) have announced their plans to explore an alliance to establish a stable supply network for iridium.

Iridium is one of the world’s rarest metals and an essential material for the manufacture of proton exchange membranes (PEM) used in water electrolyzers that produce hydrogen.

This potential collaboration will reinforce iridium’s supply chain, and enhance the manufacture of membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) with iridium-based technology developed by Toshiba Group. 

Green Hydrogen

PEM water electrolysis produces green hydrogen, a clean energy, by applying electricity generated from renewables to the electrolysis. It is highly adaptable to fluctuations in supply of renewable sources, and offers excellent durability. At the heart of the PEM is the MEA, a catalyst made from iridium—but if PEM water electrolyzers are to find wider use, the amount of iridium used in each one must be significantly reduced.  

The collaboration

Toshiba ESS continues to develop an MEA that achieves required levels of high performance, durability and large capacity hydrogen production. Toshiba ESS also cuts the use of iridium to 1/10 from the traditional manufacturing method.

Furuya is a precious metal supply company, with particular expertise in the use of platinum group metals in industrial applications. It handles some of the largest volumes of iridium of any company anywhere, with capabilities that extend from processing to recovery and refining of used products. Furuya operates an iridium recycling-oriented business model that combines high efficiency with short lead times.

Shigehiro Kawahara, Director and Vice President at Toshiba ESS, said: “We are very excited to explore a business alliance with Furuya for a stable iridium supply network, and look forward to successful discussions. At Toshiba ESS, we will continue to expand our water electrolysis business and to achieve large-scale solutions for clean hydrogen that contribute to decarbonisation.”

Through the planned collaboration, Toshiba ESS and Furuya aim to reduce the cost of MEA, and to use their respective strengths in iridium-saving technology, recycling technology, and stable supply capabilities to minimise the risk of price fluctuations.

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