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Asahi Kasei invests in Canadian manufacturer of anion exchange membranes

| By Mary Bailey

Asahi Kasei Corp. (Tokyo) has made an investment in Ionomr Innovations Inc., a Canadian startup that manufactures anion exchange membrane (AEM). Ionomr’s high-performance, durable, next-generation membrane has the potential to be transformative for the cost-efficient and scalable production of green hydrogen by electrolysis using renewable energy.

Countries around the world consider the large-scale production of green hydrogen as a key to achieving a zero-emission society in the coming decades. As a one-stop solution provider of scal-able alkaline-water electrolyzers and other components for hydrogen production, Asahi Kasei is taking an important step forward in its hydrogen business by investing in Canadian startup Ionomr Innovations. Founded in 2018, Ionomr specializes in the development and sale of next-generation membranes for use in electrolyzers and other applications. Ionomr’s anion exchange membrane (AEM) allows electrolysis without the need for precious metals as catalyst, allowing for easy scalability with reduced costs, while featuring outstanding durability and performance.

In 2010, Asahi Kasei began developing an alkaline water electrolyzer for hydrogen production leveraging its decades of experience in membrane-process electrolysis, and has been participating in several projects globally. As part of a NEDO project,1 Asahi Kasei supplied a 10 MW-scale alkaline water electrolyzer to the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field (FH2R)2 and has been operating it since 2020. The company is accelerating its development and demonstration activities toward commercialization in 2025.

By sharing its unmatched expertise in the field of membrane technology with Ionomr, Asahi Kasei expects to help further raise the performance of Ionomr’s AEM products. “This investment enables us to team up with a leading expert for a membrane technology that could be a game changer for the production of green hydrogen in terms of cost-effectiveness and scalability. At the same time, we can share our long-term expertise in manufacturing and operating large-scale electrolyzers,” says Masami Takenaka, Lead Executive Officer of Asahi Kasei and Senior General Manager of Corporate Research & Development.

“We are delighted to welcome Asahi Kasei as a financial partner,” said Bill Haberlin, CEO of Ionomr Innovations. “The support and endorsement of a lead electrolyser manufacturer underscores the potential of our Aemion® materials and for AEM as a viable solution for significant cost reduction in the hydrogen economy. Ionomr has a membrane solution that works, is a viable contender in the mix of electrolyzer technologies and will be cost-effective. We look forward to working with Asahi Kasei to decarbonize the planet with green hydrogen.”

The collaboration with Ionomr is one of the first projects within Asahi Kasei’s “Care for Earth” investment framework, which was announced in April 2023. The company allocated up to $100 million for investments worldwide in early-stage startups that aim to solve issues in environmental fields such as hydrogen, energy storage, carbon management, and bio-based chemicals over the 5-year period up to fiscal 2027. As described in its medium-term management plan in April 2022, hydrogen-related business is one of Asahi Kasei’s “10 Growth Gears” (GG10), businesses that are to drive future growth, targeting more than 70% of operating income around 2030.