UK-based ACAL Energy has completed the build of its first field test system of its FlowCath platinum-free liquid cathode fuel cell technology, producing gross power of 3kW. (Earlier post.) The company has also achieved a new record single-cell peak performance power density of nearly 900 mW/cm2, which is a substantial improvement over the previously announced peak power record of around 600 mW/cm2.
Rendering of ACAL Energy’s fuel cell engine, showing stack and external regenerator.
FlowCath technology replaces up to 90% of the current level of platinum catalyst in a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell with a low-cost, durable liquid chemical. The liquid is continuously pumped through the fuel cell stack into an external regenerator and then back to the stack. The technology also significantly reduces the balance of plant costs by eliminating the need for hydration, pressurization, complex cooling and other expensive mechanical sub-systems commonly found in conventional PEM fuel cells.
Field test unit. The first FlowCath demonstration unit will be installed next month at Solvay Interox’s chemical plant at Warrington, Cheshire. There, it will provide continuous electrical power to a remote environmental monitoring system within the manufacturing facility. The stack and regenerator sub-systems in the demonstration unit are together capable of producing more than 3kW of gross electrical power and represent a significant scale-up from the previous generation test unit which produced about 1kW of gross power.
The demonstration system is part of a collaborative project that ACAL Energy is leading, co-funded by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board. The project is seen as a major step towards commercialization for this technology, and is supported by ACAL Energy’s partners: Solvay Interox, Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells, UPS Systems, the Centre for Process Innovation, the University of Southampton and the Manufacturing Engineering Centre at Cardiff University.
New peak power with focus on automotive. The new record peak power output from a single cell of nearly 900 mW/cm2 was achieved under the PEM Challenge grant project sponsored by the Carbon Trust, which is funding accelerated development of ACAL Energy’s technology for automotive applications. The latest performance results give the company even greater confidence in the ability of its technology to meet the efficiency requirements of nearly all stationary and automotive applications, while delivering a substantially higher level of durability than conventional fuel cells.
With the successful implementation of our FlowCath technology into a full multi-kilowatt system, ACAL Energy has passed a significant milestone in our business plan. We have shown that this new low cost and durable fuel cell technology can be packaged and operated in a form suitable for nearly all stationary power applications.
To have broken new performance records at the same time is a very promising sign that we can also make this technology suitable for automotive applications.