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Ilika plc announces that it has received notification that its patent application covering its lower cost metal alloys and their use as electro-catalysts in PEM fuel cells has been given notice of allowance in Europe. This notification follows the grant of its patent applications in the USA in December 2012 and in Japan in May 2013.

In a PEM fuel cell, a controlled reaction occurs between hydrogen and oxygen. This reaction requires electro-catalysts, which are currently based on the precious metal, platinum. Ilika has developed a novel platinum-free catalyst, which on a cost/performance basis, has been shown to be 70% cheaper than the current industry standard. Ilika’s electro-catalysts, which were originally invented using its high throughput materials development platform at its facility in Southampton, have been subsequently manufactured to a kilogram-scale quantity, to Ilika's specification, by a partner using an industrially-scalable process. Ilika is in active discussions to transfer the industrial production process to a volume-manufacturing partner.

Ilika’s patents underpin the product development work, which is being supported by the Carbon Trust through the £150,000 equity investment Ilika announced in September 2012. The Carbon Trust invested in Ilika through its Polymer Fuel Cells Challenge programme to support the commercialization of Ilika's high performing electro-catalysts for use in fuel cell vehicles. 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 (MEA's) carried out at an independent fuel cell testing facility.

Ilika has submitted the positive cell performance data along with material samples for evaluation to three global OEM’s. A trial with a further global automotive OEM will commence in Q1 2014. The grant of this patent in the USA, Japan and Europe secures the intellectual property in the three major markets in which Ilika intends to commercialise its proprietary technology.

Graeme Purdy, Chief Executive of Ilika, added: "The notice of allowance of this patent in Europe will give licensees additional comfort in the value of this technology and broadens the geographical reach of our commercialisation activities."