Fuel cells convert fuel directly into electricity. Alkaline fuel cells are the oldest and most effective of all fuel cell chemistries achieving up to 60% electrical efficiency.
Alkaline chemistry is the most reliable of all fuel cell technologies as evidenced by its selection for both space and submarine applications over other available technologies.
However, they have historically failed to find commercial terrestrial applications due to cost. The catalysts and materials used in the 1950s and 60s provided high power output but at a very high cost.
Hydrogen can be made renewable in significant quantities and is sustainable. Waste hydrogen sources include waste bio-mass, hydrocarbon waste and chlor-alkali plants where hydrogen is created as a by-product in the manufacture of chemicals like chlorine.
Water and Heat as By-products
The hydrogen fuel cells’ by-products consist of water and heat. The production of water is seen as a benefit in specific regions around the world, while the waste heat produced may be captured and used on site or in a local end-user’s industrial process. This has the potential to further reduce both the end-user’s energy requirements from the grid and carbon emissions.
More efficient at all levels of utilisation
Fuel cells do not burn fuel like in an internal combustion engine or turbine so they do not need to drive pistons or blades. Avoiding this intermediate mechanical step and having a direct conversion route to electricity is what makes fuel cells so efficient. They are "scalable" without impacting efficiency unlike many of the world’s existing power production technologies.
Quiet and clean at point of generation
A fuel cell has very few moving parts. Small electrical pumps and blowers move gases and liquids around the system. Therefore, it is quiet compared to traditional technologies. Its only by-products are water and heat.
Low lifetime cost of ownership
AFC Energy has reduced the cost of ownership through a lower operating temperature (i.e. below 100 degrees Celsius) with consequential use of more affordable materials. Plus over 80% of the materials AFC Energy uses can be recycled.
With alkaline fuel cell technology yet to find a commercial foothold, science turned to a number of other electro chemistries. Each chemistry has been adopted by industry for different niche applications. Most offer efficiency advantages over how power is traditionally generated. However, alkaline fuel cells remain the most electrically efficient of them all.
Re-engineered Alkaline Fuel Cells
Over the last few years AFC Energy has re-engineered this proven alkaline fuel cell technology to give a low lifetime cost of ownership.
We have reduced the costs through a lower operating temperature (i.e. below 100 degrees Celsius) and operating pressures with over 80% of the materials capable of being reused and recycled.
We have worked with industry partners using:
State of the art design tools
Manufacturing technologies redeployed from other industries
|Constraint||AFC Energy Alkaline Fuel Cells||Space Mission Alkaline Fuel Cells|
|Safety systems||Industrial||Rapid, several a day|
|Response/cycles||Steady state, several per year||Rapid, several a day|
|Operating life||Target 12 months||A few weeks|
With Flexibility Comes Opportunity
The re-engineering of this fuel cell technology delivers commercial applications. AFC Energy is targeting the industrial energy sector. This sector is acknowledged as the fastest growing fuel cell market and growth is projected to continue. Our initial focus is to target locations with existing hydrogen streams to create long-term value.