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Electric Vehicles Research
Posted on March 2, 2011 by  & 

Alternative fuel cell developers acquire a boost from the Carbon Trust

The two major concerns that have been plaguing EV motoring are being tackled by UK alternative fuel cell developer Acal Energy, thanks to a £1m ($1.6192) investment from the Carbon Trust.
Durability and cost are the chief factors currently limiting the mass commercialization of EVs. It is well publicized that the first wave of commercialized EVs have a comparably higher purchase price than gas-powered vehicles and are only suitable for short journeys, which has led to manufacturers targeting the urban commuter. Acal Energy may have an alternative that has the potential to dramatically reduce system costs and increase vehicle durability.
Acal's solution is based on their innovative FlowCath technology that could make proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells a viable alternative to conventional combustion engine power. The company explains this is achieved "by replacing the fixed platinum catalysts on the cathode with a liquid regenerating catalyst system. The liquid is continuously pumped through the fuel cell stack into an external regenerator and then back to the stack." This approach significantly reduces cost and system complexity whilst maintaining high performance. Analysis by the Carbon Trust has shown this process could reduce system costs by up to 40 percent; a saving that can, at least partially, be passed on to the consumer.
Alternative fuel cells have the ability to provide performance equal to that of a gas-powered vehicle but will only be adopted en mass if the cost to produce such cells is kept low. Acal's technology may provide the initial breakthrough required to create the lowest carbon emission vehicles available, plus enabling cheaper running costs than both hybrid and battery-only EVs.
"Acal's step-change fuel cell technology can be produced at scale and deliver major cost reductions that could make affordable fuel cell cars a reality for the first time," said Carbon Trust research director Dr Robert Trezona.
The Carbon Trust is an independent government body that provided the funding as the prize for winners of the Polymer Fuel Cell Challenge (PFCC). The challenge was established in 2009 with the goal of accelerating the development and commercialization of alternative fuel technologies that could make mass commercialization of EVs a reality. The Trust predicts the UK polymer fuel cell market could be worth up to $19 billion with the global value exceeding $180 billion by 2050. To this end, the Trust is willing to spend up to £8 million ($12.9 million) through the PFCC.
which has now been renamed from Future of Electric Vehicles to reflect its unique covering of the whole subject.
References: Acal Energy, Carbon Trust, New Energy World Network
Image source: Acal Energy
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