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Vodafone Ventures and Carmel Ventures lead $9.2M investment in hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cell company CellEra

CellEra, developer of a hydroxide (OH−) exchange membrane fuel cell (HEMFC) technology, recently announced a $9.2-million investment round led by Vodafone Ventures, the global venture capital arm of Vodafone Group, together with top-tier Israeli VC firm Carmel Ventures. The two have joined forces with the company’s largest shareholder Israel Cleantech Ventures, a venture capital fund focused on backing Israel’s emerging clean technology companies, as well as B-2-V Partners and private investors.

In a HEMFC (left), platinum is eliminated in the fuel cell electrodes and replaced with base-metal catalysts. Source: CellEra. Click to enlarge.

The core of CellEra’s fuel cell is a catalyzed, solid polymer electrolyte. However, as this new form of polymer electrolytes conducts OH- ions as opposed to H+ ions (protons), the chemical environment in the cells is mildly alkaline as opposed to the highly acidic environment in Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) cells. Accordingly, the use of low-cost transition-metal based catalysts instead of platinum is enabled. The mildly alkaline environment further allows for the use of light aluminum hardware, without risk of corrosion, enabling, in turn, cost-effective manufacturing even at initially low volumes, as well as improved thermal management. Finally, the OH- ion conducting membrane itself is made of a less expensive polymer.

(In 2009, the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program awarded researchers at the University of California at Riverside (UCR) a $760,705 grant to support the development of a new generation of HEMFCs that are dramatically more ion-conductive, durable and tolerant of abuse than previous devices. Their work was featured as a cover story in an issue of the journal Angewandte Chemie earlier that year. Earlier post.)

Beyond the available capital, Vodafone’s investment will serve to facilitate our approach to the telecommunications market place, and our ability to direct our cost-effective, clean-energy fuel cell technology towards the requirements of global telecommunication operators.

—Ziv Gottesfeld, CEO of CellEra

Ziv added that while fuel cells have now been recognized as a reliable renewable power generation source allowing mobile network operators to reduce power generation related emissions and end-of-life hazards, wide market acceptance has been hampered to date by their high costs. CellEra’s goal is to substantially reduce these costs and allow a rapid return on investment through the development and market introduction of a new form of fuel cell technology, allowing the elimination of high-cost materials and expensive hardware in the fuel cell stack.

CellEra is targeting it introductory product at the US$3-billion telecommunications supplemental-power market, offering an alternative to lead-acid batteries and diesel generators.



They are also talking about this as an RE, presumably prioritising this application as they are limiting their initial stack design to 20kw.

Interestingly they also mention on the site that for distributed power applications they can use ammonia as the hydrogen source.
Perhaps this would be too bulky/heavy for transport use, anyone any info?


Sorry, I meant to link to the CellEra website above:


A CHEAP fuel cell would be a great optional EV range extender, but again, meaningful article device specs?

How do they compare to, say:


If you look at the slide set here:

It does not really seem ready for prime time yet.


Hey SJC, thanks for the link.

Note Slide 5 - ".. Enabler for price parity at volume with lead acid batteries and diesel generator.."

Even the 15 year old GM EV1 had economic/useable 70 mile range(w/Panasonic Lead Acid batteries[not sabotaged leaking GM/Delco units]).

The 2012 Volt is a gas-powered generator-to-electric drive motor, likely more expensive than a diesel generator.

If not prime time/drive ready yet, at some marketing point(size/$), picture a 'backup' CellEra fuel cell, < 100 pounds, with the capacity to eliminate "range anxiety" if the rare, unexpected extra range is needed.

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