ACAL Energy has completed an important step in a rigorous testing programme designed to evaluate the durability of its FlowCath® fuel cell platform. The results confirm that the platinum-free liquid cathode system, FlowCath® inherently eliminates many of the causes of lost performance in both continuous operation and in auto cycling. It has the potential greatly to assist the cost-down strategies of vehicle OEMs looking to deploy fuel cells.
The announcement comes a day after the launch of a new Government-backed initiative called UKH2Mobility that will evaluate the potential for hydrogen as a fuel for Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles in the UK, and develop an action plan for an anticipated roll-out to consumers in 2014/15.
ACAL Energy has been carrying out representative drive cycle tests in response to requests from automotive manufacturers. Drive cycle issues are known to cause deterioration of conventional PEM fuel cells. To date, ACAL Energy has reached close to 2,000 hours of cumulative testing.
Reducing the cost of achieving durability is key to successful deployment of fuel cells in mass market automotive applications, and by avoiding expensive engineering designs, the Pt-free FlowCath® system will allow vehicle manufacturers to accelerate progress to supplying affordable fuel cell vehicles.
In one set of tests, a full-scale stack was subjected to extreme load and rapid thermal cycling, from zero to 1A/cm2 load cycles and from 20 to 80 degC. No measurable change in performance was seen in over 400 load cycles and 100 thermal cycles.
ACAL Energy's technology is based on thermodynamically stable homogeneous catalysts. These catalysts have been in regular use for over three years in multiple test cells and systems, and the Company has seen no instance of catalyst deterioration throughout a battery of single cell, stack and system testing programmes.
“This is probably the most significant and valuable feature of our technology”, says Amanda Lyne, VP Strategic Business Development at ACAL Energy. “Early volume sales of fuel cell vehicles will mean that great pressure will be put on OEMs to reduce manufacturing costs.
By inherently avoiding many of the durability issues seen in conventional technology, using our FlowCath® system we can improve the economic picture significantly, and speed up the mass deployment of H2FC vehicles”. The response from one auto maker was: "This result is much better than the conventional result”.
The Company continues to accumulate data on its systems, including the fully integrated stationary back up power system located at the Solvay Interox site at Warrington.