Runcorn company leads the way in world class fuel cell technology

Breakthrough technology developed by UK company could make hydrogen fuel cell cars a mass-market reality, says Carbon Trust.

A world-leading new fuel cell technology developed by a small business in Runcorn has been selected for a £1million investment by the Carbon Trust as part of its Polymer Fuel Cell Challenge. ACAL Energy’s new approach means that for the first time, hydrogen-powered fuel cells could be affordable enough to be used in mass market applications such as cars – enabling the emergence of a global industry estimated to be worth over £180 billion by 2050.

ACAL Energy's radical solution is potentially simpler and lower cost than conventional polymer fuel cell technology, addressing the durability and cost issues that have hindered fuel cell adoption for decades. The company has developed a new way of reacting the oxygen in air with hydrogen by using a low cost liquid catalyst. Conventional polymer fuel cells require expensive platinum catalysts to do this, and the ACAL approach achieves the same performance while offering lower costs and reduced system complexity.

Hydrogen-powered fuel cells can power electric cars with zero local emissions, whilst offering the range currently expected from a traditional combustion engine. ACAL’s breakthrough could be key to the future of low carbon transport – making fuel cell cars both the lowest carbon vehicle available and also potentially cheaper to run than plug-in hybrids or battery-only electric vehicles.

Dr Robert Trezona, Research Accelerator Director at the Carbon Trust commented: “We believe ACAL’s transformational approach is one of the biggest breakthroughs in fuel cell technology since the 1980s when fuel cells moved from the space programme to industrial applications. In one step, ACAL’s technology solves fundamental issues of cost and performance which the fuel cell industry has been trying to overcome for the past 20 years, in particular for automotive products, which are the most challenging applications for fuel cells.

“We are backing a British company that is taking on the world. Its step-change fuel cell technology can be produced at scale and deliver major cost reductions – which could make affordable, fuel cell cars a reality for the first time.”

<a href="">The Carbon Trust</a>

Carbon Trust

Contact the Carbon Trust Press Office at

The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, providing specialist support to business and the public sector to help cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies. 

By stimulating low carbon action we contribute to key UK goals of lower carbon emissions, the development of low carbon businesses, increased energy security and associated jobs. 
We help to cut carbon emissions now by:

Providing specialist advice and finance to help organisations cut carbon

Setting standards for carbon reduction

We reduce potential future carbon emissions by:

Opening markets for low carbon technologies

Leading industry collaborations to commercialise technologies

Investing in early stage low carbon companies