By Anna Lardinois
Hydrogen: It is the lightest element, but its impact on the environment is weighty.
The gas is used in the manufacturing of plastics, metals, fuels, and fertilizers. A byproduct of the use of hydrogen in manufacturing is carbon dioxide.
It is estimated that 43 billion tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere each year. The number is as staggering as it is unsustainable. There are no easy fixes for this problem thought to be a significant contributor to global warming, but Advanced Ionics is working on a solution: green hydrogen.
The Milwaukee-based startup is developing an electro-chemical process to decarbonize the hydrogen used in manufacturing. If development stays on course, Advanced Ionics estimates it may be able to eliminate a gigaton of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere by 2050. That is an astonishing 2.2 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide.
The journey to this significant advance in clean energy began on a North Dakota farm. Company founder Chad Mason says of his childhood, “Growing up on a farm … you learn to enjoy doing what looks like work. But you also have the opportunity to tinker with things, solve problems (and) be one with nature.”
Mason became interested in hydrogen in sixth grade when he experimented at home with an electrolysis project. With little more than water, a battery and two wires, he was able to produce hydrogen.
As he watched the reaction when the hydrogen and oxygen separated, he became fascinated by the potential power that could be harnessed through the process. As Mason continued to study hydrogen, he discovered a new passion- hydrogen fuel cell cars. This interest eventually led him to work on General Motors’ Hydrogen Fuel Cell Team as a development engineer.
Educated as an engineer, today Mason sees himself as an entrepreneur and inventor. In 2017, Mason dedicated himself to green hydrogen and launched Advanced Ionics. The company was accepted into the 16-week WERCBench Labs Accelerator, a program run by the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WREC), in 2019. Soon after completion of the program, Advanced Ionics won the 2020 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest Advanced Manufacturing category. The company continues to operate out of M-WERC’s Century City Tower.
2022 is slated to be a pivotal one for the Advanced Ionics team. The company plans to double its workforce from eight to sixteen employees and focus on refining its technology through expanded lab work. The significant seed funding the company secured before the close of 2021 makes this growth possible.
To follow Advanced Ionics as it tackles one of the key environmental issues of our time with a green energy solution, connect with the company on LinkedIn.