Cost-Effective UK Fuel Cell Tests As Durable As Diesel Engine

Today ACAL Energy Ltd. said its cost-cutting hydrogen fuel cell design has achieved a new benchmark for durability equaling that of the best light-weight diesel engines.

The British chemical engineering company says its FlowCath technology allowed its PEM hydrogen fuel cell to run for 10,000 hours. This is equivalent to 300,000 road miles and well ahead of the U.S. Energy Department’s 2017 goal of 5,000 hour (150,000 mile) durability with an expected degradation threshold of approximately 10 percent.

“Degradation has long held back the potential for the widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells in the automotive sector. Breaking the 10,000 hour threshold during rigorous automotive testing is a key reason our hydrogen fuel cell design and chemistry has been selected for trial by a number of the six top automotive OEMs,” said Greg McCray, CEO of ACAL Energy. “With our technology, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can drive over 500 miles per tank of fuel, and can be refuelled in less than five minutes, emitting only water. For a driver, the only difference from driving an internal combustion engine car is what’s going in the tank but for the environment the significance of zero carbon emissions is enormous”.

ACAL’s benchmark was achieved over the past 16 months by way of simulated 40-minute car journeys with a stop-start at the end of each cycle. This is considered an industry standard to test the fuel cell’s longevity.

At the same time, the company says costs are cut by eliminating platinum as the catalyst between oxygen and hydrogen, and its FlowCath chemistry and engineering uses a patented liquid catalyst to achieve the same result.

ACAL Energy LTD Fuel Cell 2

The approach is also said to improve durability and the liquid catalyst acts also as both a coolant for the cells and removes most of the known decay mechanisms.

Power output is said to be on par with a 2.0-liter diesel engine at 100 kilowatts and ACAL said its design competes favorably in terms of cost and weight.

ACAL Energy’s accomplishment was also noted by the Carbon Trust, a global organization with the mission to lead toward a low-carbon future.

“ACAL Energy continues to make impressive progress towards developing a novel, robust hydrogen fuel cell system that has the potential to reduce costs to be competitive with conventional engines,” said Kevin Treco, Head of Research Accelerators, Carbon Trust. “ The Carbon Trust invested in ACAL Energy under the Polymer Fuel Cell Challenge, recognising that ACAL Energy’s technology was one of a few that could potentially achieve such cost reductions and accelerate the introduction of fuel cell vehicles and their associated carbon emission savings. We are excited by the current world leading 10,000 hour durability demonstrated and the partnerships it is helping to secure.”