The UK-government backed Carbon Trust is to invest £1.95 million in two fuel cell pioneers in a bid to reduce the cost of the technology.
Sheffield-based ITM power and Runcorn-based ACAL Energy are working on new technologies that could bring down costs from the current level of around $50/kW for fuel cell systems to about $35/kW, where the Carbon Trust calculates they will be able to compete with conventional internal combustion engine cars.
The Carbon Trust is investing £1.1 million in ITM Power’s membrane technology, which it believes has the potential to bring down the cost, size and weight of a fuel cell.
Meanwhile, ACAL Energy is pursuing another approach to reduce costs by radically reducing the amount of expensive precious metal platinum used.
The company’s FlowCathTM new fuel cell design, inspired by the human lung and blood stream, is low cost and virtually platinum-free.
ACAL Energy’s effort will receive £850,000 from the Carbon Trust as part of the organisation’s Polymer Fuel Cells Challenge (PFCC) launched in 2009.
“British technology is in pole position to be under the bonnet of a next generation of mass-produced hydrogen-powered cars,” says the Carbon Trust’s chief operating officer. “After a lot of hype, fuel cell technology is now a great growth opportunity for the UK.”
The Carbon Trust estimates that the first hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars are likely to roll off production lines around 2015.
“Driving down costs is essential to help fuel cells reach their potential in today’s market place,” adds Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker. “These exciting Carbon Trust investments, supported by government funding, should help to do just that, opening up new mass markets and securing major carbon savings.”
For further information:
Isle of Wight to become UK’s hydrogen fuel test bed (19-Jul)
UK fuel cell firm Intelligent Energy generates $35 million in funding (1-Mar)
UK fuel cell pioneers to benefit from £1 million boost (22-Feb)
UK government launches hydrogen initiative with industry (18-Jan)
02 August 2012