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Ionbond: The Netherlands could be leading the hydrogen economy

Ionbond provides thin-film coating services and operates 35 coating centres in 15 countries. Their coatings are used to improve durability, quality, functionality, efficiency and aesthetics of tools and components. Their vision is to engineer innovation for the next generation through environmentally friendly vacuum deposited coatings. 

Name: Ton Hurkmans
Function: chief technology officer (CTO)
Organization: IHI Ionbond Group
Works with ISPT on: Hydrogen

Why do you think it’s important to contribute to the energy transition with your work? 

Ionbond’s vacuum coatings have been contributing to a cleaner environment for years. The emerging energy transition also envisions the use of specialized coatings to increase productivity and longevity. Consider coatings for bipolar plates in electrolysis and fuel cells or low-friction coatings for bearings in wind turbines and water valves in nuclear power plants. For years, similar Ionbond coatings have helped to meet the increasingly stringent internal combustion engine emission regulations. Adding value to existing parts through coatings is Ionbond’s business model. 

What does the energy transition need now? 

There is a need for rapid response time within the Netherlands. The current macroeconomic situation and Covid are driving towards a faster transition. The Dutch industry should not miss the moment. Concrete action is needed, with minimum loss due to unnecessary meeting processes. 

ISPT is an energetic club that brings the right partners together. They also push progress in a positive way, ensuring progress for the benefit of all parties involved. 

Ton Hurkmans, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), IHI Ionbond Group

What problem must be solved to accelerate?  

I vow for less bureaucratic procedures for companies to compete in the market. The Netherlands is in a good position to be leading the hydrogen economy. Through electrolysis, surplus wind, solar and nuclear energy can be stored very well in the form of hydrogen. This hydrogen can then be used both privately and industrially. I also think, we should consider replacing the current gas system by using the available network of renewables. In my opinion, diesel trains in need of replacement should also run-on hydrogen very soon. If we are successful in this in the Netherlands, then we must also make sure that the long-term economic benefit remains in the Netherlands. It would be a shame if that disappears again, as we have seen with the production of solar panels. 

What do you see as the greatest opportunity for innovations and the energy transition?

Generation and use of energy will have to be separated. They are currently not in sync. Now, with the rapid advance of solar panels and an overly light grid, we see a quite large production of energy in the summer, but zero in the winter when it is needed even more. Here, I still come back to hydrogen. The chains of generating hydrogen, transporting it and using it again for local energy still requires a lot of innovative work, as it has to be efficient and safe on a large scale.

What is your dream? 

That Ionbond can provide employment for at least a twofold number of employees and their families in 2030 compared to now. 50 percent of our income should come from the current energy transition. Hereby recognizing that Ionbond’s innovative coatings have been a driving force internationally. 

Our partners are of great value for our open innovation platform. In this series we proudly introduce some of them to you with a short interview about collaboration in the energy transition.