Ceres Power awarded 2023 MacRobert Award

Ceres Power, the company behind ground-breaking solid oxide fuel cell technology, has been awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering’s 2023 MacRobert Award.

Ceres Power receive the 2023 MacRobert Award From HRH The Princess Royal
Ceres Power receive the 2023 MacRobert Award From HRH The Princess Royal - Credit Jason Alden

The Academy’s Royal Fellow, HRH The Princess Royal, presented the winning team behind the Ceres SteelCell with the MacRobert Award gold medal and a £50,000 prize at the Royal Academy of Engineering Awards Dinner in London on 13 July.

Winners of the MacRobert Award are acknowledged for engineering ingenuity, commercial success and tangible social benefit. According to RAEng, Ceres’ fuel cell technology promises to make a major contribution to global decarbonisation at scale and pace. The company also produces electrolysers for green hydrogen and opened a 240m2 hydrogen fuel cell and electrolysis test facility in Nuneaton, Warwickshire on July 10, 2023.

RAEng said the judges were impressed with the solid oxide cell based on common low-cost materials, which is combined with an innovative deposition technique and a highly differentiated stack technology. One cell can light a room but the 250MW of capacity set to come on stream in 2024 could power half a million homes.

In Ceres' solution, a gadolinium-doped ceria ceramic membrane acts as an electrolyte that operates at temperatures between 500–600°C, which is the optimum temperature for performance, fuel flexibility, cost and robustness. Furthermore, Ceres’ licensing model has enabled it to establish partnerships with companies including Bosch, Doosan, and Weichai.

The judges were also impressed by the technology’s reversible properties. Running in one direction it can use multiple fuels to generate electricity, but run in reverse, it generates green hydrogen at high efficiencies and low cost.

In a statement, Professor Sir Richard Friend FREng FRS, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award judging panel, said: “It is impressive to see what Ceres Power has achieved with its SteelCell technology. The innovation promises to be a huge game changer for hydrogen generation and marks a significant breakthrough in clean energy technology, providing the tools for companies to reach net zero, even in the most hard-to-abate sectors.

“Ceres’ spectacular work continues the UK’s proud tradition of world-leading engineering innovation and highlights the important contribution the UK can make in tackling the ongoing climate crisis.”

Dr Caroline Hargrove CBE FREng, Chief Technology Officer at Ceres, said: “The UK is a science and technology powerhouse; as a nation we have invented some of the world’s best technology that we see all around us today. At Ceres, we believe the same can be true of hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

“We have an incredibly talented team of nearly 500 scientists and engineers, pioneering electrochemical technologies that are enabling the world’s most progressive companies to deliver clean energy at scale and pace. And we need to succeed, to ensure that we can deliver a net zero future for our families, for society and for all our benefit.”

Originally founded by the MacRobert Trust, the MacRobert Award is now presented and run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, with support from the Worshipful Company of Engineers.