Pajarito Powder awarded $10 million to build out electrolyzer catalyst supply chain


March 25, 2024

The New Mexico catalyst maker joins with two industry and three community partners to lower costs and increase production of green hydrogen

March 25, 2024 — Albuquerque, N.M. — Pajarito Powder, LLC will use a $10 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to accelerate its development and manufacturing of catalysts that reduce the amount of precious metal needed to make green hydrogen, while scaling-up production capacity. In this project, Pajarito Powder intends to create a stable supply of catalysts that are needed for proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis.

Auris Noble and Nel Hydrogen are also part of the team for this project, which has a total federal budget of $10 million. Pajarito Powder is working with three community partners – the University of New Mexico (UNM) Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, UNM’s STEM-H Center and the New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD). They also plan to leverage national laboratory expertise through the H2NEW Consortium.

“This is a very significant development for our company,’’ said Dr. Michele Ostraat, chief operating officer of Pajarito Powder, who will act as principal investigator managing the project. “We’re going to staff up, add equipment, install new systems, and accelerate our growth – all to advance the goals we share with DOE. This is a big step in creating a green hydrogen ecosystem in New Mexico.”

In the award announcement, DOE noted that Pajarito Powder already has significant experience with the development and production of oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalysts, and it works with numerous electrolyzer manufacturers around the world. Under the terms of the DOE agreement, Pajarito Powder will have to meet certain production targets and demonstrate new ways to conserve iridium without affecting performance.

Pajarito Powder’s advanced engineered PEM catalysts reduce the amount of iridium used in green hydrogen production by 14 percent to 60 percent, making the supply of the precious metal extend further. It also greatly reduces the cost of green hydrogen production.

“We are proud to be involved with this project and look forward to working even closer with Pajarito Powder on the effort of iridium sustainability,” said Auris Noble chief operations officer Patrick Deeringer.

“We are excited for the opportunity to continue our collaboration with Pajarito Powder on state-of-the-art catalysts that will enable more efficient use of iridium,” said Andrew Motz, cell stack materials project manager at Nel Hydrogen.

Pajarito Powder received a second $10 million award notification from DOE to build out the supply chain for its fuel cell catalysts used in hydrogen-powered transportation. It is working with Brookhaven National Laboratory, General Motors Co., Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Strategic Analysis on that project.

“These are game-changing awards for Pajarito Powder,” said Thomas J. Stephenson, the company’s chief executive officer and board chairman. “We’re going to be able to ramp up production much more quickly to help bring about the clean-energy future.”

Pajarito Powder opened a new manufacturing facility in Albuquerque this year that will enable 100 times as much production of green-hydrogen catalysts.

About Pajarito Powder

Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, Pajarito Powder, LLC is a world leader in the development and commercialization of advanced electrocatalysts for fuel cells and electrolyzers. Pajarito Powder manufactures a range of catalyst products using its own intellectual property as well as intellectual property licensed from the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique.

Pajarito Powder has received essential support from the State of New Mexico Economic Development Department through several programs including the Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP), SBIR Matching Grant, Technology Business Startup Grant, and the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) through the New Mexico International Trade Alliance. It has also worked with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (WIOA) and the City of Albuquerque’s One Albuquerque Workforce Development Program.

Pajarito Powder manufactures catalysts for use with PEM and anion exchange membrane (AEM) electrolyzers and PEM fuel cells. Pajarito Powder materials more effectively use the platinum group metals (PGM) component of catalysts, resulting in higher performance, better stability, and improved durability.

Pajarito Powder is a venture-backed startup funded by Bekaert, Hyundai Motor Company, Verge Fund, Omphalos Venture Partners, and other private investors.


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Pajarito Powder benefits from resources provided by the State of New Mexico Economic Development Department:  JTIP, STEP and other programs through the Office of Science and Technology.