ACAL Energy demonstrates fuel cell performance record

October 26, 2011 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Fuel cell technology company 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 3 kW. At the same time the company has also achieved a new record peak performance power density of nearly 900 mW/cm3, a substantial improvement over the previously peak power record of about 600 mW/cm3. The achievement could bring the technology a step closer to commercialization.

ACAL Energy has built its first FlowCath demonstration unit. While the company also targets the automotive market with its technology development, the unit will be installed stationary at Solvay Interox's chemical plant at Warrington (United Kingdom). 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 over 3 kW of gross electrical power and represent a significant scale-up from the previous generation test unit which produced about 1 kW of gross power.

ACAL Energy CEO Dr SB Cha said the successful implementation of the company's FlowCath technology into a full multi-kilowatt system shows that ACAL's low cost and durable fuel cell technology can be packaged and operated in a form suitable for nearly all stationary power applications. He added that the increased performance is a very promising sign that the company can also make this technology suitable for automotive applications.

ACAL Energy's proprietary technology replaces the platinum catalyst on the cathode in a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell with a low cost, durable liquid chemical, so reducing the overall platinum content, as much of the platinum in conventional PEM fuel cells is used in the cathode. Fuel cell systems utilizing FlowCath represent a clean and economically sensible alternative to diesel and gasoline generators in stationary and transportation applications requiring 1 kW to 200 kW of electrical power.

The demonstration system is part of a collaborative project that ACAL Energy is leading, co-funded by the British Technology Strategy Board, an agency dedicated to fostering technology developments. The project is seen as a major step towards commercialisation 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. 

The new record peak power output from a