26 October 2012

A new report released by the Carbon Trust has outlined how five British organisations, including UCL researchers assisted by UCLB, are set to achieve a breakthrough in reducing the cost of polymer fuel cells – a key determinant of their widespread deployment.

The report suggests that a continued focus on pushing the frontiers of research into the technology could make fuel cell-powered cars cost competitive with traditionally powered road vehicles – and potentially see up to a third of all vehicles on the road powered in this way by 2050.

The Carbon Trust has previously injected over half a million pounds into a collaboration between UCL and Imperial College London to accelerate the commercialisation of an innovative fuel cell architecture. The UCL and Imperial collaboration, led by Dr Dan Brett (UCL Department of Chemical Engineering) and Professor Anthony Kucernak (Imperial Department of Chemistry), is developing a fuel cell stack that could offer significant cost savings by using existing high-volume manufacturing techniques employed in the production of printed circuit boards.

According to the Carbon Trust, the market could be worth up to $261 billion a year by 2050, with fuel cells powering upwards of 560 million vehicles should they fall to a competitive price point. To facilitate this, the Carbon Trust is supporting five UK organisations – ITM Power, ACAL Energy, Ilika, Imperial and UCL – through its $10 million Polymer Fuel Cells Challenge.

To this end, the UCL and Imperial collaboration has seen researchers develop a novel stackable cell architecture that uses low-cost materials and manufacturing techniques.

Commenting on the report, James Wilde, Director of Innovation and Policy at the Carbon Trust, said: “Our new analysis shows that the future is bright, but innovation is essential to unlock the market potential by driving down the costs of new polymer fuel cells. The UK, through its leading companies, is in pole position to benefit from an expanded global market for fuel cell vehicles.

Dr Tim Fishlock, Senior Business Manager at UCLB, added: “Cost reduction is essential if fuel cell vehicles are going to reach mass production.  This report highlights the massive potential of the UCL/Imperial technology, and the ways in which it can facilitate this reduction.

Having supported development of the technology through provision of our own proof-of-concept funds, UCLB is now working with the Carbon Trust and Imperial Innovations to commercialise this exciting technology.

Links
Polymer fuel cell challenge

About the Carbon Trust
The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, providing specialist support to business and the public sector to help cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies. By stimulating low carbon action we contribute to key UK goals of lower carbon emissions, the development of low carbon businesses, increased energy security and associated jobs.

For further information, please visit: www.carbontrust.co.uk

About UCLB
UCLB is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from the laboratory to market. UCLB supports UCL’s Grand Challenges of increasing UCL’s positive impact on and contribution to Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.

For further information, please visit: www.uclb.com