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ACAL Energy - Support to develop fuel cell technology

Carbon Trust support enabled ACAL Energy to develop new world leading fuel cell technology and is helping to make mass market deployment a reality

Fuel cell technology

Leading the way in world class fuel cell technology

ACAL Energy has developed a new world leading fuel cell technology that could mean vehicles powered by hydrogen powered fuel cells will at last be affordable enough for the mainstream market place - enabling the emergence of a global industry estimated to be worth over £180 billion by 2050.

The challenge

The car industry has been working to develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for over a decade. But their commercial viability has been hampered by the high cost and low durability of traditional, membrane based, fuel cell technology.

The high cost comes predominantly from the use of expensive platinum catalysts which need to be regularly replaced as a result of deterioration, as well as the expensive technology required within the cell to keep the membrane humidified as the fuel cell is operated.

ACAL Energy has addressed these issues by developing a new way of reacting the oxygen with a low cost liquid catalyst system, which is not only far cheaper, it also eliminates the causes of degradation and simplifies the balance of plant needed to ensure durability. Overall, ACAL Energy's technology has the potential to cut system costs, once in mass production, by up to 40%.

The breakthrough

Low carbon hydrogen-powered fuel cells can power electric cars with zero local emissions, whilst offering the range currently expected from a traditional combustion engine. ACAL Energy's breakthrough could be key to making this technology available for mass market future low carbon transport - making fuel cell cars both the lowest carbon vehicle available, with no compromise on use patterns, as well as being potentially cheaper to run than plug-in hybrids or battery-only electric vehicles. At the heart of the ground-breaking new design is a proprietary liquid 'catholyte' system based on commodity chemicals. It is the brainchild of Andy Creeth, co-founder of ACAL Energy, who thought of the idea after leaving his previous role developing chemical solutions for everyday uses such as detergents or personal care products

The Carbon Trust's investment will enable us to accelerate development of our technology for use in cars. While ACAL will initially offer products for use in stationary power applications, our longer term focus remains automotive. We are very grateful for the support given to us by the Carbon Trust, not only in this investment, but over the last several years. We look forward to working with the Carbon Trust to achieve our mutual goal of clean, sustainable and affordable power.

Dr. S.B. Cha, CEO, ACAL Energy

Working with the Carbon Trust

ACAL Energy started working with the Carbon Trust as part of our Business Incubator in 2006 and we first invested in the company in 2007. In 2010/11 it was selected for a £1 million investment as part of our Polymer Fuel Cell Challenge. The Polymer Fuel Cell Challenge was launched in 2009 to deliver the critical reduction in fuel cell system costs that must be achieved to make mass market deployment a reality.

Download ACAL Energy case study (PDF) 

See more about our work with ACAL Energy reducing fuel cell costs in our Innovations showcase video.

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