Chemical and pharmaceutical company, Solvay, has taken an equity stake of 13 per cent in UK-based fuel cell developer, ACAL Energy.

ACAL Energy will use the funds to accelerate the development of its fuel cell technology dubbed FlowCath, which reduces the cost and improves the reliability of fuel cells.

Solvay’s investment amounts to £1.25m.

Jean-Michel Mesland, general manager, research and technology at Solvay, and member of the executive committee, said: 'As a leader in polymer membrane technology for fuel cells, we are committed to giving strong support to the development of such devices.'

ACAL's FlowCath replaces quantities of expensive precious metal catalyst found in the cathode of conventional fuel cells with a proprietary low-cost liquid catalyst.

This not only reduces the cost of the fuel cell, it says, but also provides durability and reliability benefits through system simplification and the elimination of the most common failure mechanisms found in standard fuel cells.

ACAL Energy, which is based in the north west of England at the Heath Business and Technology Park in Runcorn, plans to introduce a demonstration fuel cell with a power output of 1kW in 2009.