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Chemours to enter into fuel cell joint venture

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Chemours is set to enter into a joint venture with BWT FUMATECH to advance its work on hydrogen fuel cells. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

WILMINGTON – Global chemical company Chemours plans to enter into a joint venture with a German company to advance their work on membranes in hydrogen fuel cells in next-generation vehicles, the companies announced Monday.

The Wilmington-based Chemours will fund a 50-50 research match with BWT FUMATECH Mobility GmbH, which has decades of experience with membranes, especially in water treatment.

The joint venture will be called The Mobility F.C. Membranes Company GmbH and located in Germany, where FUMATECH (Functional Membranes and Plant Technology) has a production plant near Stuttgart. It will integrate the partners’ complementary capabilities, resources, and technological expertise to “expedite [membrane] supply to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and to ensure growing demand is met in the near and long terms.”

The companies estimate that within 12 months of startup, the joint venture will be able to ramp up the capacity of manufacturing heavy-duty humidifier and fuel cell membranes for strategic long-term customers in the European Union, United States, Japan, China, and South Korea.

Chemours, which inherited the legacy DuPont Nafion ion exchange membrane that are often used in hydrogen fuel cells, has committed to hydrogen as a fuel source of the future. Earlier this month, the company announced that it will invest $200 million to increase capacity and advance technology for its Nafion membrane.

“The estimated size of the heavy-duty fuel cell membrane market is expected to grow to about $900 million by 2030, which speaks volumes to how critical this technology is, and will continue to be, as the planet pursues robust goals for decarbonization,” said Denise Dignam, president of advanced performance materials at Chemours, in a statement announcing the joint venture. “Chemours is committed to taking on the world’s biggest challenges through the power of our chemistry and driving investment in supporting the hydrogen economy. This joint venture with BWT FUMATECH demonstrates the exact type of collaboration that empowers us to uphold that commitment. This is an ideal partnership, possessing everything required to go from monomer to membrane with the agility, efficiency, and production volume necessary to bring affordable hydrogen energy solutions to mass markets.”

The joint venture partners believe that climate policies, such as the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, European Green Deal, and other future-oriented policy frameworks on the EU and member state level, will drive significant changes to the energy, transportation, and manufacturing industries as well as spark innovation in clean technology with billions of dollars in new climate and energy spending.

“In coming together to combine the best assets and competencies of both partners, THE Mobility F.C. Membranes Company GmbH, will focus on establishing the resources and processes to secure the path for long-term success in line with the growth within the hydrogen space,” Andreas Weissenbacher, CEO BWT, said in a statement. “Ultimately, our work together will fill a pipeline of needed products critical to achieving a global, sustainable hydrogen economy.”

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