The good news is that even 300,000 miles worth of water vapor still equals zero emissions. Acal Energy Ltd., a UK-based chemical engineering firm, says it started with the US Department of Energy's hydrogen fuel cell durability standard, then doubled it.

Acal says its so-called FlowCath technology, in which the usual platinum catalyst for fuel cells is replaced by a liquid catalyst that doubles as a coolant, makes fuel-cell technology lighter, cheaper and more durable. Specifically, the company says its fuel cell engine has been tested to run 10,000 hours, or the equivalent of about 300,000 miles of driving, with minimal degradation.

In February, the Department of Energy put out its durability target for new fuel-cell technology, setting a goal of 5,000 hours, or about 150,000 miles. Check out Acal's press release below.
Show full PR text
HYDROGEN FUEL CELL THAT'S AS DURABLE AS A CONVENTIONAL ENGINE

ACAL Energy system breaks the 10,000 hour endurance barrier

27 June 2013, Runcorn, UK: ACAL Energy Ltd, the British chemical engineering company, has announced today that its FlowCath® chemistry and engineering has enabled a PEM hydrogen fuel cell to reach 10,000 hours' runtime on a third party automotive industry durability test without any significant signs of degradation. ACAL Energy's breakthrough approach is also significantly cheaper than conventional fuel cell technology.

10,000 hours, the equivalent of 300,000 driven miles, is the point at which hydrogen fuel cell endurance is comparable to the best light-weight diesel engines under such test conditions. This endurance far exceeds the current 2017 US Department of Energy (DoE) industry target for fuel cell powered vehicles to last 5,000 hours, equivalent to 150,000 road miles, with an expected degradation threshold of approximately 10%.

Over the last 16 months, ACAL Energy has put its proprietary design fuel cell through an industry standard automotive stress test protocol that simulates a 40-minute car journey with a start-stop at the end of each cycle. The cycle, which was repeated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, mimics a vehicle journey with frequent stops, starts and a highway cruise. This particular test is employed to accelerate aging and to stress wear on car engines and fuel cell systems over time.

Unlike a conventional PEM hydrogen fuel cell design, ACAL Energy's technology does not rely on platinum as the catalyst for the reaction between oxygen and hydrogen. The platinum and gas have been replaced with a patented liquid catalyst, which ACAL Energy calls FlowCath®. This revolutionary approach dramatically improves a PEM fuel cell's durability and at the same time reduces the cost of a system. The liquid acts as both a coolant and catalyst for the cells, ensuring that they last longer by removing most of the known decay mechanisms.

Importantly, ACAL Energy's technology reduces significantly the total cost and weight of a fuel cell and enables a competitive fuel cell drive-train with a power output of 100kW. This is equivalent to that of a 2-litre diesel engine. Many of the world's largest automakers including Hyundai, Honda and Toyota have announced plans to launch fuel cell vehicles by 2015.

Greg McCray, CEO of ACAL Energy, said:

"Degradation has long held back the potential for the widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells in the automotive sector. Breaking the 10,000 hour threshold during rigorous automotive testing is a key reason our hydrogen fuel cell design and chemistry has been selected for trial by a number of the 6 top automotive OEMs."

He continued: "With our technology, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can drive over 500 miles per tank of fuel, and can be refuelled in less than five minutes, emitting only water. For a driver, the only difference from driving an internal combustion engine car is what's going in the tank, but for the environment the significance of zero carbon emissions is enormous".

Kevin Treco of The Carbon Trust said:

"ACAL Energy continues to make impressive progress towards developing a novel, robust hydrogen fuel cell system that has the potential to reduce costs to be competitive with conventional engines. The Carbon Trust invested in ACAL Energy under the Polymer Fuel Cell Challenge, recognising that ACAL Energy's technology was one of a few that could potentially achieve such cost reductions and accelerate the introduction of fuel cell vehicles and their associated carbon emission savings. We are excited by the current world leading 10,000 hour durability demonstrated and the partnerships it is helping to secure."

###

About ACAL Energy

ACAL Energy is a British chemical engineering company with a revolutionary new approach to hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The company has a patented liquid catalyst, FlowCath® and a new fuel cell architecture, which together create a substantially cheaper, smaller and more durable hydrogen fuel cell. This unique combination makes hydrogen fuel cells viable commercially, as a clean energy source, for the first time.

Hydrogen is the world's most abundant element; it is a clean, non-polluting fuel and is a common by-product of many industrial processes. ACAL Energy will license its technology to companies in the automotive and stationary power sectors.

The company, advised by Innovator Capital, the specialist investment bank, is funded currently by a mixture of venture and strategic investors including: the Carbon Trust, a key investor in the low carbon technology field; I2BF Global Ventures, an international clean technology asset management group; Solvay, the international chemical group; a large Japanese automotive manufacturer; and the North West Fund for Energy and Environment.

ACAL Energy, a private limited company, was founded in 2004 by Dr Andrew Creeth and Amanda Lyne and is based in the North West of England.

For more information, please visit www.acalenergy.co.uk


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 49 Comments
      BraveLil'Toaster
      • 1 Year Ago
      "makes fuel-cell technology lighter, cheaper and more durable." I wish they'd publish what they mean by "cheaper." It probably still doesn't even remotely come close to a comparable Li-Ion battery.
        DaveMart
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BraveLil'Toaster
        It is a lot easier to evaluate technologies if you are willing to look at them in their own right, and don't obsessively compare them to your own pet technology. The information not being given here is not the same as it not being published, it simply means that you have not bothered to check. On the ACAL website they give good indications of the potential cost reduction. For the cathode it much reduces platinum use, which is a major cost component. In itself it does not change the platinum use in the anode. However there are plenty of other technological pathways which are actively reducing that use too. Since the balance of plant is also reduced, with for instance no need for humidifiers, ACAL cost against the DOE figure of $49kw at a manufacturing volume of 500,000 units, and give the cost savings from their improved cathode at $11, so that the cost reduces to around $38kw at the same volume.
        archos
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BraveLil'Toaster
        True. Cheaper does not mean affordable. With fuel cells cheaper usually means $everal hundred thousand instead of a couple million per cell.
          Sean
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          I think this is no longer the case. Dose anyone have price info on hydrogen fuel cells actually sold?
          methos1999
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          Archos - several hundred thousand $ per cell?? How big is the cell - 100 m^2?? If you can't speak the language of energy & power, go back to grade school. The terminology here is kW for power & kW-hr for energy. Costs should be expressed in $/kW for power (fuel cells), and $/kW-hr for energy (batteries). Even at that you can't easily compare the two.... But last I checked, Ballard was around $800/kW, but that was over a year ago, so I imagine there might have been some improvement.
          BraveLil'Toaster
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          Last I checked, the cheapest fuel cell stack for vehicles was predicted to cost around $150,000 - $200,000 in production volumes. So "cheaper" is still a lot relative. Either way, the article (or more accurately, the company trying to sell this technology) should *say* what they mean by "cheaper". More than likely they want to keep the hydrogen dream alive so that they can keep doing their research, therefore they're not going to tell us for fear that it will kill any interest. It's like when a product is advertised on the internet, but you have to call a salesperson before you can even find out how much it costs. The answer is always "too much".
        BipDBo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BraveLil'Toaster
        A fuel cell + motor + controller is always going to more expensive, bigger and heavier than a motor + controller in a BEV. So where does a hydrogen car have an advantage over a BEV? Is it the tank vs the battery? If so, then probably not for long. Batteries are quickly getting cheaper and better. A high pressure hydrogen tank will likely always be pretty expensive and large. Those tanks, despite what anyone may claim, are also inherently much more dangerous. The only advantage I see is that it takes less time to fill a hydrogen tank than to charge a battery. But then there a quicker and quicker chargers coming out continually and battery swap stations. Batteries will always be more efficient. I see fuel cells already on the way of HD-DVD and Betamax.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          You have already said that you are not interested in what anyone says about safety, so you simply disregard data and extensive testing in favour of your prejudice. The overall weight of a fuel cell system including the cf tank is around 1,500Wh/kg, way more than anything we can presently do with any battery we have. Batteries are improving, but so are fuel cells, and so is hydrogen storage. There are also a lot of potential alternatives to cf tanks to store the hydrogen, just as there are potential breakthroughs such as lithium air. Since the whole system is much lighter, what is the basis for your claim that: 'A fuel cell + motor + controller is always going to more expensive, bigger and heavier than a motor + controller in a BEV.' Why?
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          So, you have no support at all for your contention that: 'A fuel cell + motor + controller is always going to more expensive, bigger and heavier than a motor + controller in a BEV.' Your notion that they will be more expensive is just that, a notion without evidence. As for bigger and heavier, since a fuel cell vehicle is carrying around less than a BEV, what on earth puts that into your head?
          BraveLil'Toaster
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          Yup. The *only* advantage that Hydrogen fuel cells have over batteries is that they take less time to refill.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          I have no idea what you are talking about with 'solid state tanks'. Alternatives actually being considered for storage include various hydrides, formic acid, metal organic frameworks and others. It is hardly surprising that you should declare that they might all explode, since you have been upfront on your determination to completely dismiss any evidence indicating that present tanks are safe. That is one of the perks that you get from having a closed mind, evidence is unimportant, so if you can scare up some random study from 10 years or so ago, that is good enough, job done.
          BipDBo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          Hydrogen fuel cell are improving, and will likely get cheaper. They need to, because they are currently insanely expensive. How is the tank getting better and or cheaper? We've been building high pressure vessels for many purposes for a long time now. Are there any potential foreseeable breakthroughs? "Solid state" tanks are just bundles of lots of really tiny tanks. They will likely always be high pressure tanks filled with flammable gas. "Why?" x+y+z will always be greater than x+y.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      There is no question that if you are converting energy back and forth, it is lossy. Norway puts the relative efficiencies of charging directly versus going back and forth to hydrogen at perhaps twice. That does not alter that Norway is going heavily for hydrogen, as it is the only practical way of doing a largely renewable economy - and they have far more storage in hydroelectricity than almost anyone else: http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/media/1838763/fuel_cells_and_hydrogen_in_norway.pdf So if you fancy a heavily renewables economy, then you are pretty well stuck with hydrogen playing a big part in it. It is not so much that efficiency claims are wrong, more that they are asking the wrong question. At the moment both electricity and hydrogen largely come from fossil fuels, in electricity''s case almost 50% from coal. So at the moment the CO2 reduction from a fuel cell car is probably less than from a battery one, and altering what the grid burns and the efficiency is tough and long term. As for energy, both fuel cell cars and battery ones use around 1MJ/mile well to wheels. If we are talking long term, then we can't possible know if something like direct conversion of sunlight to hydrogen will work out, so we don't really know whether a battery or hydrogen economy would be more efficient. I don't have a preference, I just want to get off oil. What concerns me is that I feel that much of the argument and arithmetic used to knock fuel cells are not soundly based.
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      I thought that was common knowledge around here: http://www.metricmind.com/data/bevs_vs_fcvs.pdf It doesn't take long to find more. The only time a fuel cell equals (or when assumptions are tweaked beyond credulity) exceeds BEV efficiency is when hydrogen is membrane extracted directly from natural gas. This won't be available everywhere. Electricity is available everywhere. If natural gas had the availability required for widespread transportation adoption, then NG internal combustion would have become popular decades ago. Don't argue about hydrogen extraction from trash, which would be a drop in the ocean of our transportation needs, and could be used for direct grid electricity generation anyway.
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      So you think that everyone should be familiar with one particular study that happens to support the conclusions you wish to draw? This seems unlikely, particularly considering that the most recent reference given in the study are dated 2001! You have to be joking. I was going to make a serious response, but you are simply using wall paper to buttress your case, such as it is. I assume that you support renewables. In that case those who are serious about a high penetration of them, instead of their being a fancy way to continue reliance on fossil fuels, realise that you can't do that without massive storage. IOW your comparison of efficiencies is invalid before it starts, as hydrogen is an integral part of the system, so you might as well use some of it to power transport. A discussion of this, together with in particular Germany's efforts to actually run most things on renewables, and the large part necessarily given to hydrogen for this, here: http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/analysis/surveys/2013/water-electrolysis-renewable-energy-systems http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/media/1871508/water_electrolysis___renewable_energy_systems.pdf You will note that it is a 2013 study, and so is not talking about technologies which are obsolete. So there are losses from electrolysis and energy conversion. Since the notion that a system based on renewables is dependent on it, then comparing that to one without conversions is meaningless. It is perfectly possible to avoid that by using my preferred alternative, nuclear, which has far less need for storage, but nuclear can also perfectly well turn out hydrogen and ultimate energy efficiency is not always the goal, or we would all be riding bicycles. You notion that other pathways are unimportant, particularly biomass, is also unfounded, although they can't do all the job. Check out current data, not stuff from 2001, on the use of forest waste in Scandinavia, for instance. Direct conversion of solar to hydrogen and other mechanisms are also possible, and perhaps no more unlikely than lithium air batteries.
      Giza Plateau
      • 1 Year Ago
      So that only leaves the impossible infrastructure, no charging at home, the 3x poorer efficiency and the 700bar pressure. 2015 shouldn't be a problem : )
      goodoldgorr
      • 1 Year Ago
      Chris m is beginning to step back, ahh ahh ahhh.
      archos
      • 1 Year Ago
      Actually I was making a statement. Lame cut and paste marketing posts bore me. Deal with it.
      Dave D
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow, it's Fuel Cell week at ABG....must be sweeps week and they're trolling for hits! LMAO!!!
      Jeff
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nice article! I am all for diversification of transportation vehicles and fuel!!! Did a little research and found some impressive video and links concerning what is happening in California in regards to municipal wastewater treatment plants when paired with fuel cell technology where they are now up an running creating 3 value streams of hydrogen, electricity and heat all from a human waste! Impressive in my opinion... Have a look. "New fuel cell sewage gas station in Orange County, CA may be world's first" http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/orange_county&id=8310315 "It is here today and it is deployable today," said Tom Mutchler of Air Products and Chemicals Inc., a sponsor and developer of the project. 2.8MW fuel cell using biogas now operating; Largest PPA of its kind in North America http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/news-events/news-archive/2012/october/28-mw-fuel-cell-using-biogas-now-operating-largest-ppa-of-its-kind-in-north-america Microsoft Backs Away From Grid http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2012/11/20/microsoft-backs-away-slowly-from-the-grid/ This is some efficient infrastructure for hydrogen refueling... Hope they don't wait another 10 years to start moving on it? $4 per kg of hydrogen should be about $15 to fill up a tank vs. $45 - $60 now?? Is that about right???
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      "The good news is that even 300,000 miles worth of water vapor still equals zero emissions." Seriously, are you trolling? Long tailpipe emissions are emissions nonetheless. Yes, people can charge their cars with solar, wind, unicorn farts, whatever, but most will charge off of the grid. All of those alternate sources can displace the grid anyway, without being attached to a charger, so it's a moot point. The long tailpipe still applies. The electricity-->hydrogen-->electricity cycle is less efficient than batteries and likely always will be. With a hydrogen car you will have less emissions than probably all but the most efficient hybrids, but more emissions than BEVs. You certainly won't have zero. No solution is perfect.
        DaveMart
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        'With a hydrogen car you will have less emissions than probably all but the most efficient hybrids, but more emissions than BEVs. ' You do? Please show me your exact figures, together with the data and assumptions that you are using, or are you simply talking hot air? You do realise that there are plenty of other ways to produce hydrogen, as well as by electrolysis, don't you? For instance from sewage and landfill, so it is generated using resources which are otherwise pollutants.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      DaveMart . . . increasing the electrolysis efficiency does not change the conclusion of that paper. Go ahead and assume you have a magical 100% efficient electrolysis system and put that in Figure 2 of the paper BipDBo cited . . . the EVs STILL WIN.
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      You seem more educated on the subject of efficiency. Perhaps I should stand to be corrected at least possibly in the application of extraction from natural gas. There is no argument, however, that efficiency is better with batteries, as I said, against the electricity-->hydrogen-->electricity cycle. I still hold though, that for transportation, hydrogen faces many more, and larger hurdles than BEVs and plug-in hybrids. Like Blue-ray and VHS, the industry will need to gravitate to one basic solution. This is demonstrated by the failure of NG cars to gain popularity despite obvious benefits. Looking at hydrogen vs batteries, I see every reason to bet on batteries.
    • Load More Comments