Sales of fuel cells continue to be dominated by proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology, which grew six fold over the last four years. The technology is dependent on platinum containing electrodes, which are the most expensive components in the fuel cells.
To enable widespread commercialisation of PEM technology, it is important to reduce the cost of these electrodes and Ilika's palladium alloy electro-catalysts have the potential to be 70% cheaper than platinum electro-catalysts on a cost/performance basis.
The Carbon Trust’s Polymer Fuel Cells Challenge is supporting the commercialisation of Ilika’s proprietary high performing electro-catalysts for use in fuel cell vehicles as a platinum replacement. Following Ilika’s discovery of a palladium-alloy electro-catalyst using its High Throughput Physical Vapour Deposition (HT-PVD) platform, the company worked with the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) an R&D organisation In Taiwan, to manufacture the electro-catalysts on a kilogram-scale quantity.
As part of the Carbon Trust's technical and commercial evaluation of the technology, Ilika submitted performance data for assessment by independent experts demonstrating the performance and stability of the catalyst. The performance data was generated in industry standard tests of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) carried out at an independent fuel cell testing facility.
Ilika also plans to extend its intellectual property portfolio in this field by further developing low-cost platinum and palladium-alloy core shell electro-catalysts which exhibit excellent performance and stability.
Ilika has submitted the positive cell performance data along with material samples for evaluation to three global OEMs. Trials commenced in 2014. Patents defining this technology have been granted in the USA, Japan and Europe securing the intellectual property in the three major markets in which Ilika intends to commercialise its proprietary technology.
"We have been supporting Ilika's fuel cell work for some time. They continue to make good progress and the recent results provided to us show the major commercial and carbon-saving potential that this UK technology could unlock."
Michael Rea, Chief Operating Officer of Carbon Trust