Carbon Trust has given support to two UK fuel cell pioneers who
are working to deliver a much needed step change reduction in the
cost of the technology. Carbon Trust is supporting
Energy and Sheffield-based ITM Power by providing £1.95m of
The cutting-edge fuel cell technology could be used under the
bonnet of hydrogen-powered cars by 2017-2020. Major
manufacturers have already built hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars,
but the real challenge is to bring down the costs and, in the
global race to do this, UK technologies are now in a strong
Production of state of the art fuel cell systems currently under
development globally are forecast to cost approximately $50/kW at
mass manufacture volumes. However, analysis by the Carbon Trust
indicates that for these future fuel cell vehicles to compete with
internal combustion engine cars, the cost of fuel cell systems must
be reduced to about $35/kW. Significant
additional technological breakthroughs are needed to achieve this
target of a 30% cost reduction.
Analysis by the Carbon Trust has identified that innovative
technologies being developed by ITM Power and ACAL Energy have the
potential to reach this automotive cost target if significant
technological hurdles can be overcome.
One of the most important factors for bringing down the cost,
size and weight of a fuel cell is increasing its power density -
the amount of power produced for the size of the fuel cell.
Based on data provided by ITM Power, analysis by the Carbon Trust
indicates that their membrane technology has the potential, subject
to overcoming a number of technological hurdles, to reduce fuel
cell costs to about $35/kW. As a result, the Carbon Trust is
investing £1.1m which will be earmarked to further develop and
scale-up ITM Power's membrane technology for use in automotive
Another significant way to bring down the cost of polymer fuel
cells is to reduce the amount of platinum used. ACAL Energy
have developed a revolutionary new design of fuel cell that they
call FlowCathTM. Inspired by the human lung and
bloodstream, it uses a circulating liquid polymer cathode, creating
a virtually platinum free low-cost system with the added potential
benefit of increased durability, making it highly attractive to
vehicle manufacturers for their next generation fuel cell vehicles.
Analysis by the Carbon Trust, based on data provided by ACAL
Energy, indicates that this technology also has the potential,
subject to overcoming the technological hurdles, to reduce fuel
cell system costs to about $35/kW. As a result, a further £850k has
been invested by the Carbon Trust into ACAL Energy for continued
development and scale-up of their FlowCathTM system.
The two investments come from the Carbon Trust's Polymer Fuel Cells
Challenge (PFCC) which was launched in 2009 to support the
Department for Energy and Climate Change's objectives to develop
lower cost fuel cells and follows this year's launch of the
UKH2Mobility project to ensure the UK is well positioned for
the commercial roll-out of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker
"Driving down costs is essential to help fuel cells reach their
potential in today's market place. 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. I look forward to seeing the results from these two
Michael Rea, Chief Operating Officer at the Carbon
"British technology is in pole position to be under the bonnet
of a next generation of mass-produced hydrogen-powered cars.
After a lot of hype, fuel cell technology is now a great growth
opportunity for the UK. It is anticipated that the first
generation of hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars are likely to roll
off production lines around 2015. While they are expected to
be lower-carbon than internal combustion engines, they will also be
more costly. The investments we have announced today we
believe will help develop the technologies needed to bring down the
costs of the next generation of fuel cell vehicles so that they can
become price competitive with conventional internal combustion
engine cars in the future."
Simon Bourne, CTO, ITM Power Plc, said:
"ITM and the Carbon Trust have developed a productive
relationship during the two fuel cell projects that the Carbon
Trust has provided funds to support. Their understanding of the
technological advances required to accelerate commercial uptake of
fuel cells is deep and well aligned with our own. I am delighted by
their decision to invest to help us further develop our
membrane technology for automotive fuel cell applications."
Brendan Bilton, UK Managing Director, ACAL Energy Ltd
"Acal Energy has benefitted from Carbon Trust support over a
long period and we really appreciate the expert knowledge that has
enabled the Carbon Trust to understand the cost and performance
benefits of our technology. This project will allow the company to
demonstrate automotive performance and durability targets with our
FlowCath® technology and accelerate our system development
programme for the automotive sector."
Carbon Trust's Polymer Fuel Cells
Challenge aims to speed the UK towards world-beating polymer
fuel cell solutions that could grab a significant share of the
global fuel cell market. The Carbon Trust has estimated that
achieving a cost reduction to $35/kW could unlock a fuel cell
vehicle market that alone could be worth $210bn, and save 750
million tonnes of CO2 by 2050.
Notes to editors
For more information and to speak to a Carbon Trust
spokesperson, please contact the Carbon Trust press office:
Tel no: 020 7170 7050
About the Carbon Trust
The Carbon Trust is an independent company with a mission to
accelerate the move to a low carbon economy.
It advises businesses, governments and the public sector on
their opportunities in a sustainable, low carbon world.
It measures and certifies the environmental footprint of
organisations, supply chains and products.
It helps develop and deploy low carbon technologies and
solutions, from energy efficiency to renewable power.
Background on the Carbon Trust Polymer Fuel Cells
Recognising the UK's unique expertise in fuel cells the Carbon
Trust Polymer Fuel Cells
Challenge (PFCC) was launched in 2009 to support the Department
for Energy and Climate Change's objectives to develop lower cost
fuel cells. The aim of the PFCC is to deliver a step-change
in costs and open up mass market applications such as powering cars
Carbon Trust analysis indicates that reaching a $35/kW
automotive fuel cell system cost target could boost the market
share of fuel cell vehicles by 10% - or 160 million vehicles - by
2050. These extra fuel cell vehicles equate to an additional $25bn
polymer fuel cell market value, along with an additional 220
million tonnes of CO2 savings globally. The overall fuel cell
vehicle market in 2050 could be worth $210bn, and save 750 million
tonnes of CO2. Carbon Trust ran a nationwide competition to
identify the breakthrough technologies that could achieve the
$35/kW target and unlock this significant prize.