Carbon Trust invests in UK company to develop platinum free catalyst for fuel cells

In a fuel cell, a controlled reaction between hydrogen and oxygen occurs. This reaction requires electro-catalysts, which are currently based on the precious metal, platinum. Ilika has developed a novel platinum-free catalyst which, on a cost/performance basis, promises to be 70% cheaper than the current industry standard.

The investment comes 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 Government's UKH2Mobility project to ensure the UK is well positioned for the commercial roll-out of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.  The investment into Ilika follows two recent investments worth £2m into ITM Power and ACAL Energy, two other UK companies. 

We have been supporting Ilika's fuel cell work for some time. They continue to make good progress and the recent results provided to us show the major commercial and carbon-saving potential that this UK technology could unlock. The investment combined with our recent investments into ITM Power and ACAL 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.

Michael Rea, Chief Operating Officer at the Carbon Trust

We are excited by the Carbon Trust's continuing support of our electro-catalyst technology. The continuing financial commitment from the Carbon Trust will enable Ilika to increase the scale of production of the material that has performed so promisingly in independent testing, allowing us to offer samples to our automotive commercialisation partners to validate its properties.

Graeme Purdy, Chief Executive of Ilika

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 Challenge (PFCC):

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 and buses. 

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.