Preliminary cost analysis finds ITM Power fuel cell membranes could reduce automotive fuel cell costs to $35/kW
|Cost reduction potential of a polymer fuel cell system using an ITM Power membrane. Source: Carbon Trust. Click to enlarge.|
The preliminary results of an independent assessment commissioned by the UK’s Carbon Trust of ITM Power’s fuel cell membrane performance indicates that ITM Power’s membrane technology has the potential, assuming that the significant technological hurdles can be overcome, to reduce fuel cell costs to US$35/kW in manufactured quantities of 500,000 units per year.
This is based primarily upon the demonstrated high power density performance and assumed catalyst loading reductions. Such demonstrations and assumptions were based on information and data provided by ITM Power. ITM Power has published figures showing what it believes is the highest ever polymer fuel cell power density using hydrogen as the fuel and ordinary air, rather than pure oxygen. (Earlier post.)
Unlike the majority of conventional fluorocarbon membrane materials which are expensive and require significant chemical plant to fabricate, ITM’s materials are low-cost hydrocarbons made by mixing together liquid chemicals to a particular recipe.
|US Department of Energy (DOE) is targeting $30/kW. Source: US DOE. Click to enlarge.|
According to analysis by the Carbon Trust, a cost of below $36/KW is where future fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are expected to be able to compete with internal combustion engine cars at mass-manufactured volumes on a total cost of ownership basis.
As a point of comparison, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has set a target for 2017 of a 60% peak-efficient, 5,000 hour durable, direct hydrogen fuel cell power system for transportation at a cost of $30/kW at 500,000 units per year. DOE says that 2011 costs are $49/kW.
ITM Power cautioned that the results of the preliminary study remain subject to continuing analysis, independent verification and audit and therefore may be subject to revision. The results of the preliminary study have not been audited or verified by either ITM Power or the Carbon Trust and neither ITM Power nor the Carbon Trust accepts any responsibility in relation to the results of the preliminary study.
ITM Power is now aiming for its technology to be included in the second generation of hydrogen-powered cars expected to be launched in 2017-2018, assuming the first generation rolls out as planned in 2014-2015. To help support the development of potential technologies, and as part of its Polymer Fuel Cell Challenge (under which the Carbon Trust is supporting a number of selected companies) the Carbon Trust is supporting ITM Power to develop its technology and intends to provide high level introductions to key players in the automotive sector.
ITM Power is progressing to its next phase of fuel cell membrane development which will include continued membrane optimization, catalyst reduction and assessment of durability under automotive operating conditions.