Bramble Energy, a British firm rooted in collaborations from Imperial College and University College London, has announced a groundbreaking white paper outlining a strategy to manufacture the world’s most cost-efficient fuel cell. This revelation potentially expedites the large-scale adoption of hydrogen in energy and transportation sectors.
The white paper details the innovative use of Bramble’s proprietary Printed Circuit Board (PCB) fuel cell technology. The company’s vision is a staggering $100-per-kilowatt stack, a price point that is a tenth of the prevailing market rates for conventional fuel cells. The scale of operations could further reduce the cost to a mere $60-per-kilowatt.
The key differentiator in Bramble’s approach is the integration of PCB in the fuel cell design. This is a significant departure from conventional fuel cell mechanisms. The PCB-focused strategy is touted to facilitate mass production by leveraging extant manufacturing infrastructures. For perspective, while a standard UK prototyping PCB facility has an output of about 250 panels daily, their larger counterparts can churn out an impressive 25,000 panels each day. The inherent scalability of large-scale facilities, combined with their propensity for bigger panel sizes, not only brings down costs but also grants greater design versatility.
Bramble’s PCB-centric fuel cell features a mainstream PCB laminate at its core, functioning as a bipolar plate. This configuration assures structural resilience while concurrently performing a slew of intricate fuel cell operations like sealing, gasketing, and current collection. Given that such PCB materials are commonplace in the industry, the scale of operations, even at preliminary production levels, results in considerable cost savings.
The PCB laminates, constituting both conductive and dielectric components, are fabricated in panel form. These panels offer the dual advantage of structural robustness, ensuring a hermetic cell, and the requisite electrical conductivity. Depending on the design and dimensions, a single laminate sheet can yield multiple fuel cell modules. By tailoring fuel cell designs to conform to panel dimensions, Bramble believes it can optimize material use, further slashing expenses.
Currently, the technology is undergoing preliminary testing phases, with a focus on honing its UK-based supply chain. The company anticipates conducting short stack tests by year’s end, post refining the core module. Comprehensive stack evaluations are slated for Spring 2024.
“Industries are in desperate need of attainable, sustainable, clean energy solutions, so our mission at Bramble Energy is removing the biggest barriers to hydrogen adoption,” said Dr Tom Mason, Bramble Energy co-founder and CEO.
“With high cost hindering the hydrogen fuel cell industry for years, this white paper demonstrates how our printed circuit board fuel cell technology can deliver fuel cells at an achievable cost and the speed at which it be realised compared to existing technology. We hope this paper will provide industries from mobility to energy storage the encouragement for fuel cell technology to reach mass adoption as quickly as possible, and as a result, begin decarbonising immediately.”
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