Chemical catalyst boosts fuel cells

A fuel-cell technology that relies mostly on a chemical instead of platinum as a catalyst has demonstrated a continuous power output of over 600W.


A fuel cell technology that relies mostly on a chemical instead of platinum as a catalyst has demonstrated a continuous power output of over 600W.


The technology, known as Flowcath, from Cheshire-based ACAL Energy replaces up to 90 per cent of the current level of platinum catalyst in a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell with a low-cost, durable liquid chemical.


ACAL Energy demonstrated that its hydrogen-fuelled short-stack unit is capable of outputting 600W of continuous power. The company plans to deliver more than 1.5kW with a full stack later this summer.


S B Cha, chief executive of ACAL Energy said that the demonstration shows that the company is well on the way to achieving this goal.


‘This unit represents a 20-fold scale up from our last demonstration unit,’ he said. ‘It is a tremendous achievement by our very talented team of engineers and scientists and a key step towards commercialisation of the technology.’


When fully developed, fuel-cell systems using Flowcath will be marketed as an alternative to diesel and gasoline generators in stationary and transportation applications requiring between 1 and 200kW of electrical power.



ACAL Energy claims the proprietary chemical compounds in Flowcath can deliver the same level of fuel-cell performance as platinum. The company expects to exceed this level in the future.



It is also claimed that the technology reduces the balance of plant costs by eliminating the need for hydration, pressurisation, complex cooling and other expensive mechanical sub-systems commonly found in conventional PEM fuel cells.