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Scaling Up and Commercialisation of Boron Hydride Materials

Ilika plc (AIM:IKA), the advanced cleantech materials discovery company, and Aldrich Materials Science, a strategic technology initiative of Sigma-Aldrich (NASDAQ:SIAL), today announced that they have signed an agreement that will see the two companies collaborating to work on the scale-up and commercialization of next generation hydrogen-storage materials. Both parties believe that this enterprise will become a vital component of the energy industry’s efforts to develop consumer-friendly hydrogen storage materials for fuel cell and clean combustion technology.

Hydrogen represents an attractive carrier of energy as its combustion or direct conversion to electricity via a fuel cell does not lead to the emission of carbon dioxide. In addition, hydrogen can be seen as an alternative energy carrier to battery technology since the energy density of hydrogen can be substantially higher than that of batteries. The main criteria for hydrogen storage for transport purposes, as outlined by the US Freedom Car Initiative ( ), are to supply enough hydrogen to enable a driving range of approximately 500 km, charge and recharge at near room temperature and provide hydrogen at rates fast enough for operation in automobiles. Current prototype applications use either very high pressure compressed hydrogen (approx. 700 bar) or cryogenically cooled liquid hydrogen. These methods consume a significant percentage of the energy content in their compression and conversion, 15% and 30% respectively, and both raise safety concerns. By contrast, Ilika’s storage solution is a solid metal hydride, which exists as a powder stored in a cylinder at moderate pressure (10 bar) and stable at room temperature. When warmed to moderate temperatures, hydrogen is released for use as fuel.

The target weight percentage of hydrogen stored in such a material for it to be economically viable has been set at 6% by the US Department of Energy. Current commercially-available hydride materials can achieve up to 2.3 weight % of hydrogen. The hydride materials being verified and scaled-up by Aldrich Materials Science can potentially store up to 10 weight % of hydrogen, reversibly.

Commenting on the collaboration, Ilika’s CEO, Graeme Purdy, said: 

“This agreement is a great example of how Ilika works with its partners to develop innovative materials that solve complex industrial challenges, allowing us to share in the resulting commercial upside. Sigma-Aldrich is a world leader with renowned capability in the field of materials science. The scale-up of our materials will benefit from the expertise the Aldrich Materials Science initiative brings to us. In particular, Sigma-Aldrich’s mechano-chemistry know-how and processing is a proven tool for the preparation of novel materials for industrial purposes. We are very pleased to be working with them.”

R&D Manager for Aldrich Materials Science, Viktor Balema, added:

“We have been very impressed by Ilika’s unique high-throughput discovery capabilities, which are very complementary to our scale-up facilities at Sigma-Aldrich. The collaboration, done as part of our custom research services, creates the unique opportunity to rapidly move from discovery to first commercialization, making innovative energy storage materials available to end users in a short period of time. Through collaborative custom research projects, we enable materials innovation in the alternative energy, electronics and biomedical markets.”

For more information contact:

Ilika plc

Graeme Purdy, Chief Executive


Steve Boydell, Finance Director

+44 (0) 23 8011 1400

Sigma Aldrich Materials Science Angel Thompson,

Tactical Marketing

+(1) 414 438 5118

Nomura Code Securities Limited(NOMAD to Ilika)

Phil Walker / Christopher Golden

+44 (0) 20 7776 1200

Pelham Bell Pottinger (PR to Ilika)

Archie Berens / Charlotte Offredi

+44 (0) 20 7861 3232

Impress Public Relations (PR to Sigma Aldrich)

+(1) 503 616 3817 Mark Button, Senior Vice President


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