Ilika (AIM: IKA), the advanced cleantech materials company, announces that further to the granting of its patent application covering its lower cost metal alloys and their use as electro-catalysts in PEM fuel cells in the USA, it has also received notification that this patent has now been granted in Japan.
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, UK, have been subsequently manufactured to Ilika's specification by a partner using an industrially-scalable process.
As communicated in Ilika's Trading update released in April 2013, Ilika has submitted positive cell performance data and material samples for evaluation by select automotive manufacturers based primarily in the US and Japan. Therefore, the grant of this patent in both the USA and Japan confirms that the Company has secured the intellectual property in two of the major markets in which Ilika intends to commercialise its proprietary technology.
Furthermore, Ilika's development partner in Taiwan has now successfully manufactured the catalyst material, which is a critical component of the PEM fuel cell, to Ilika's specification at the kilogram scale. This development progress ensures that the industrial production process can be readily transferred to any 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. The investment from the Carbon Trust is currently supporting Ilika in having a larger quantity of the electro-catalyst made for testing by the major automotive OEMs that have expressed their interest in the technology.
Graeme Purdy, Chief Executive of Ilika, added: "The grant of this patent in Japan builds on the Company’s IP position in the USA and is an important stepping-stone in reinforcing the commercial value of Ilika’s technology in this area. From a revenue perspective, Japan continues to be the most important jurisdiction for the Company and our team there is now broadening its customer interactions for commercialising this technology".