UK industry titan Johnson Matthey: full steam ahead with hydrogen in China

Hydrogen Sector 22.08.23
Written by: HYCAP

Several robust British companies are blazing trails in the rapidly growing hydrogen industry, and one of the more prominent is titan Johnson Matthey.

By the close of 2021, Johnson Matthey, a key global leader in sustainable technologies, was actively engaged in the process of commercialising its line of high-nickel cathode materials, primarily aimed at the automotive sector.

Following a comprehensive assessment and in anticipation of reaching crucial investment milestones, they determined that the potential returns from their Battery Materials division wouldn’t be sufficient to warrant further financial commitment and decided to focus its attentions elsewhere.

Since then, London headquartered Johnson Matthey has been making impressive strides in its other areas of growth, namely hydrogen technologies, circular practices, and the reduction of carbon emissions within the chemicals value chain. In a world that is increasingly seeking solutions to confront the challenges posed by climate change, the company is now expediting these opportunities with intensified focus and increased investment.


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So it came as little surprise when Johnson Matthey recently entered into an investment agreement with the Jiading District in Shanghai to accelerate the growth of the hydrogen economy in China.

Hydrogen is poised to play a pivotal role in China’s roadmap to carbon neutrality by 2060. According to the IEA’s Announced Pledges Scenario (APS), the demand for hydrogen might experience a surge of over three times by 2060, as China strives to fulfill its climate objectives.

During a signing ceremony Johnson Matthey and the Shanghai Jiading District unveiled their intentions to establish a new facility for producing catalyst-coated membranes (CCMs). This facility will cater to various proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell applications and PEM electrolysers.

Spanning across 22,000 square meters in Shanghai’s Jiading district, within a designated Hydrogen industrial zone, the facility is projected to have an initial capacity of up to 5 gigawatts (GW). It is slated for operational status by 2025 and will be adaptable for expansion in alignment with customer demand.


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Dr Mark Su, President of Greater China at Johnson Matthey, said: “This is a landmark investment for our business as we build our footprint in the US, Europe and now China, cementing our presence in all three major hydrogen markets. We are excited to expand our businesses whilst creating and scaling the low carbon solutions that will help China achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.”

Funded by customer requirements, this investment aligns with Johnson Matthey’s £1.1 billion global capital expenditure plan for the three years leading up to 2024/25. It will encompass governmental support and incentives.

This new production facility will empower Johnson Matthey to serve both existing Chinese and international clientele with domestically manufactured CCMs. Furthermore, there exists a robust lineup of potential customers interested in fuel cell and renewable (green) hydrogen technologies.

Ms. Gao Xiang, Mayor of Jiading District, said: “Jiading District is a famous international automobile city and one of the earliest areas in China to develop a hydrogen industry. With the help of companies like Johnson Matthey, we are able to actively build a hydrogen technologies innovation hub and a national fuel cell vehicle demonstration city. This investment agreement plays to both parties’ strengths and is a win-win cooperation.”

Catalyst-coated membranes (CCMs) stand as pivotal components defining the performance of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). China has articulated ambitions of having 1 million hydrogen-powered vehicles on its roads by 2030.

With a substantial history in China, Johnson Matthey operates six state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities within the country. It holds a prominent position as a producer of auto catalysts and platinum group metals, while being a significant player in syngas and hydrogen fuel cells. The company was the first entity to undertake commercial-scale membrane electrode assembly (MEA) production in China, fabricating MEAs for hydrogen fuel cell shuttle buses showcased during the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022.

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