Technology Overview

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

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.

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Available hydrogen

Hydrogen can be generated by renewable energy (such as wind and solar PV) in significant, sustainable quantities. By-product or vented hydrogen sources include: bio-mass, glass production, hydrocarbon processing and chlor-alkali facilities. Vented hydrogen arises as a by-product of many chemical processes, for example, the manufacture of chlorine can result in the generation of excess quantities of hydrogen.

Water and heat as by-products

AFC by-products consist of water and heat. The production of water is seen as a benefit in specific regions around the world, while the heat produced may be captured and used on site or in a local end-user’s industrial process. This generates heat load, has the potential to further reduce both the enduser’s energy requirements from the grid and their potential carbon emissions.

Quiet and clean at point of generation

AFCs have 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

We aim to reduce the cost of ownership through a lower operating temperature (i.e. below 100°C) with consequential use of more affordable materials. Additionally, we have the ability to recycle the materials we use in our fuel cell system.

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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.

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:

Modern materials

State of the art design tools

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Value engineering

Manufacturing technologies redeployed from other industries

ConstraintAFC Energy Alkaline Fuel CellsSpace Mission Alkaline Fuel Cells
WeightFlexibleStrict
SizeFlexibleConfined
Fuel storageNoYes
Power densityLow-mediumHigh
Safety systemsIndustrialRapid, several a day
Response/cyclesSteady state, several per yearRapid, several a day
Operating lifeTarget 12 monthsA 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.