Carbon Trust Awards; Win for Oxford Fuel Cell Invention

Image from Carbon Trust Awards; Win for Oxford Fuel Cell Invention News Article

30th November 2003

Researchers from Oxford's Chemistry Department have won one of the three categories in the Carbon Trust Innovation Awards with their vision for sustainable energy provision.

The Carbon Trust Awards

Professor Fraser Armstrong and Dr Kylie Vincent from the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory were presented with the Carbon Trust National Award for Low Carbon Innovator of the Year in the category of “Academic Institution and R & D Facility”. Professor Armstrong and Dr Vincent fought off tough competition from a total of 265 applicants to make it to the nine finalists with their biological fuel cell invention.

The renewable energy invention consists of a fuel cell using catalysts sourced from enzymes found naturally in the environment. The enzymes used compare favourably with platinum catalysts currently used in fuel cells converting hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, the only emission produced being water. The use of precious metals is not only expensive, but unsustainable since they are a finite resource. It is envisaged that the biological fuel cell invention will allow cheap, robust and clean energy production in medium-scale domestic energy applications.

Work is continuing within Professor Armstrong’s group at the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory to improve and optimise the performance of the fuel cell catalysts. Oxford University Innovation, the University’s technology transfer company, has filed patents on the inventive aspects of this technology and is managing the commercial development of the invention.

Professor Armstrong said, “The technology is immensely developable. We are at the tip of a very big iceberg, but there is still much to do before this generation of enzyme based fuel cells become commercially viable.”

The submission for the Carbon Trust National Awards was undertaken in close collaboration with Isis and Dr Ajay Sharman, Environmental Technology Manager at Oxford University Begbroke Science Park.

Visit the Carbon Trust website.

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