Hydrogen fuel cell specialist AFC Energy aims for longer life fuel cells

2018-01-10 10:29:00
"The ability to deliver this extended operational lifetime in our electrodes is the critical factor in reducing the levelized cost of power"
AFC is focused on converting waste hydrogen from the chemical industry

Fuel cell specialist AFC Energy plc (LON:AFC) believes its work with partner De Nora has the potential to slash the cost of hydrogen power.

In October, Adam Bond, chief executive, said there was “clarity over the roadmap to a power generation cost from the AFC Energy fuel cell stack of less than US$0.10/kWh.”

WATCH: AFC Energy kicks off work on 'landmark' hydrogen micro-grid project

Key to this is the ability to increase the life of the electrodes within the fuel cells.

"The ability to deliver this extended operational lifetime in our electrodes is the critical factor in reducing the levelized cost of power. 

"This would be an incredible outcome not only for AFC Energy, but for the fuel cell industry and the wider hydrogen economy, and will put our technology on a comparable footing with other low carbon, base load power generation technologies,” Bond said.

READ: AFC Energy unveils landmark fuel-cell micro-grid project

AFC and De Nora, an Italian firm, have a way to go yet, but an update in January reported that a new electrode pairing had gone on test in December and was expected to exceed the predicted life of one year and might even run for two years.

Work has also started on a further upgrade to the electrode anode and cathode pairings to enable them to run for four years.

Getting the electrodes to run for that length of time would bring the electricity costs down to below the target of US$0.10/ kWh - excluding the cost of hydrogen.

A newly designed fuel cell stack without solid nickel substrate frames, now demonstrated both at laboratory scale and industrial scale with improvement in stack performance has also reduced stack costs by up to 30%.

Commercial developments

AFC’s focus is the generation of power from waste hydrogen produced by the chemical industry.

EU-backed, the POWER-UP project is the world's largest operational alkaline fuel cell system at Air Products' industrial gas plant in Stade, Germany.

Other projects include a feasibility study  at Peel Developments’ Protos Industrial Park into the suitability of a fuel cell project.

The first commercial sale of an alkaline fuel cell system ( in 2017) was for PowerHouse Energy plc’s waste gasification system while a number of early stage contacts for systems in Korea and the Middle East.

Strong financial backing

AFC is still in the development stages of its business, something reflected in its financial numbers.

In the six months to April, there was an operating loss of £2.7mln with grant income under the European Framework Programme 7 for the POWER-UP and ALKOMMONIA projects the main source of its revenue.

Heavyweight backing though comes from Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovic’s vehicle Ervington, the largest shareholder, and Schroders, which picked up an 8.44% interest through a £3.3mln investment in March 2017.

At 12.5p, AFC is valued at £46mln.