First published in Cleantech Infocus: UK Innovation in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen (in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board), October 2012
Carbon Trust and Technology Strategy Board alignment: ACAL Energy’s Low Carbon Vehicle funding followed a £1m Carbon Trust investment for research in fuel cells for automotives
The story of ACAL Energy is a good example of how participation in Technology Strategy Board programmes can align with other financial investments in the growth of a technology business, enabling strategic development and technology demonstration and facilitating engagement with potential lead customers in key markets.
Background: ACAL Energy was founded in August 2004 and is based in the North West of England at The Heath Business and Technology Park in Runcorn. The company was set up to research and optimise Dr Andrew Creeth’s invention for addressing the inherent technical limitations of the cathode side of PEM fuel cells.
ACAL Energy’s core technology, FlowCath®, is based on platinum free regenerating redox catalysts, for the oxygen side of membrane type fuel cells. The FlowCath® cathode technology replaces up to 90% of the platinum catalyst found in a PEM FC with a low cost, water-based catalyst solution which, by addressing a number of limitations inherent in PEM systems, leads to enhanced reliability, durability and overall cost savings of more than 40% over conventional PEM systems. FlowCath® offers cost savings in fuel cell systems and performance improvements in PEM and promises to accelerate the adoption of PEM fuel cell technologies.
Technology Strategy Board Funding Highlights
2011: Low Carbon Vehicle programme funding for a feasibility study into a low cost fuel cell vehicle. This project was led by Gordon Murray Design and adopted the latter’s iStream® concept, which allows for fast, low cost production of lightweight vehicles, combined with ACAL Energy’s FlowCath® technology. The funding followed a £1m Carbon Trust investment for fuel cells in the automotive industry, as part of the Polymer Fuel Cell Challenge.
2009: £0.97m for ApPLES, a £1.9m three year ACAL Energy led project, with partners Solvay Interox, JM Fuel Cells, UPS Systems, CPI, Cardiff and Southampton Universities. ApPLES involved the building and field testing of the world’s first functioning PEM fuel cell back-up power system using FlowCath® technology. The unit, commissioned at Solvay’s Interox chemical plant in Cheshire, can produce 3kW of gross electrical power. During the field study a new record peak performance power density in the laboratory of nearly 900 mW/cm2 was achieved.
Key Investors: Rising Stars Growth Fund, NorthStar Equity Investors, Porton Capital Ltd, Synergis Technologies, Solvay SA, Sumitomo, Carbon Trust Investments, I2BF, The North West Fund for Energy and Environment, Carbon Trust Investments, SC Green Tech Ventures LLC.
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