Sea trials for a hydrogen fuel cell fabricated with PCB technology

Sea trials of a hydrogen fuel cell using PCB technology.

Bramble Energy’s PCB Fuel Cell is designed to provide a zero emissions alternative for diesel engine vehicles and portable generators that can be manufactured by PCB factories around the world to reduce cost and time to market. market.

Testing of the innovative fuel cell on a remote-controlled robot boat, considered a world first, is expected to start in the coming months in partnership with Sea-Kit International, a leading manufacturer of unmanned surface vessels (USVs). ).

The £1.37million project won £964,000 funding from the Department for Transport under the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition in September 2021 but was delayed due to global supply chain issues .

Sea-Kit USVs have a diesel-electric hybrid dual drive, which is powered by an electric motor powered by batteries which are charged by two on-board diesel generators.

The project will replace one of the Maxlimer USV diesel generators with a PCB fuel cell. The vessel will only operate with this engine during the demonstration.

Vidal BharatChief Commercial Officer of Bramble Energy, said:

It will be installed and tested, based on the testing protocol we have agreed.

“[The USV] will perform its typical operation but under supervision, so we’ll see how it performs.

He said the trial will take place in UK waters and that further trials which could include higher power fuel cells of the order of “tens of kilowatts” were potentially in the offing, with development expected to take “months not years”.

“We hope that we [will become] a long-term partner with Sea-Kit,” he said. “We would also like to do other projects in the maritime industry. This technology is application independent, so it is a solution for everything from recreational boats to cruise ships.

Bramble Energy also secured a Series B investment of £35m in March 2022 to develop the PCB fuel cell, which is already being used to produce a portable fuel cell generator in partnership with multinational industrial gases company BOC, and to power portable industrial light towers for Taylor Construction. Plant.

Bharath said that all components of the PCB fuel cell are made from the laminate used for the green motherboard of printed circuit boards, except for the membrane which forms its “electrochemical core”.

“This allows us to leverage the manufacturing capacity of the printed circuit board industry worldwide, as we manufacture our fuel cells using standard components and techniques,” he said. “We can then leverage that maturity and scale of manufacturing to reduce our costs.

“Most importantly, it has an adaptable form factor, so we can adapt to existing applications. We provide a black box component called the Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA). We manufacture it ourselves… and we can adapt it to the customer’s needs.

A new type of hydrogen fuel cell made from the laminate of computer motherboards has been developed by a UK start-up to speed up the move to net zero, September 26, 2022

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