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ACAL Energy to demonstrate fuel cell system with platinum-free cathode

Fuel cell system developer ACAL Energy is leading a collaborative project to build the world’s first installed system using FlowCath® fuel cell technology in a practical application. The project will see a fully operational demonstration system of a FlowCath fuel cell unit installed at Solvay Interox’s large industrial site at Warrington, Cheshire, UK.

The project will be a major step on the commercialization roadmap for this innovative technology. It represents an investment of £1.9 million (US$3.1 million), and has been awarded funding by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board.

Joining ACAL Energy as partners on the project are Solvay Interox, Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells, UPS Systems, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), the University of Southampton, and the Manufacturing Engineering Centre at Cardiff University.

ACAL Energy and its partners will develop and operate a suitably sized, low-cost FlowCath fuel cell unit to provide continuous electrical power to a remote environmental monitoring system within the chemical manufacturing plant. The project got under way on December 1, with the build and installation to take place in the second half of 2010.

Ultimately, fuel cell systems utilizing FlowCath will be a clean and economic alternative to diesel and gasoline generators in stationary and transportation applications requiring between 1 kW and 200 kW of electrical power.

The ACAL Energy FlowCath technology replaces the platinum catalyst on the cathode in a proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell with a proprietary low-cost, durable liquid catalyst. The technology significantly reduces balance-of-plant (BOP) costs – and improves system durability and reliability – by eliminating the need for hydration, pressurization, separate cooling, and other expensive mechanical subsystems in conventional PEM fuel cells.

‘Field demonstration of our FlowCath technology is a very important milestone for the company,’ says Dr SB Cha, Chief Executive Officer of ACAL Energy. ‘This application requires the unit to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will be an excellent example of the robustness and reliability of our low-cost fuel cell technology.’

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