Manchester Metropolitan University has launched a new technology hub to help SMEs create the next generation of carbon-neutral fuel cell technologies.
The Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre (MFCIC) will house start-of-the-art equipment for SMEs to lead the development of the cutting edge technology, which has the potential to provide emission-free energy power. The project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Hydrogen fuel cells harness the energy generated when combing hydrogen with oxygen, producing clean electricity and water as a byproduct. The global market for fuel cells is projected to grow by 10 per cent over the next eight years, led by key projects in the UK, Japan, USA, Germany and several major car manufacturers.
The MFCIC will help to speed up the development of fuel cells and next generation energy storage, utilising high tech solutions such as nanomaterials and 3D printing, and also plan fuel cell infrastructure for the wider region.
Much of the anticipated work will focus on the rapid development of prototyping to test and re-test new designs in order to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
‘Centre of excellence’
It is hoped that Greater Manchester will become a global leader in the fuel cell market.
Dr David Lambrick, interim pro-vice-chancellor for the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the university, said: “This is truly a ground-breaking initiative to drive forward innovation in our SMEs, develop emission-free energy and firmly position Manchester as a worldwide centre of excellence in fuel cells.
“The big challenge for the 21st century is how we create a sustainable future while meeting demand for energy, which will only continue to rise in the coming years. Fuel cells are a fundamental part of the hydrogen economy and what we have at Manchester Metropolitan is the expertise in advanced materials, nanotechnology, smart grid technology and business development.
“We now have the MFCIC to break down the barriers for hydrogen-focused SMEs to access the technology to make the next generation of fuel cells to become a reality.”
The new centre builds on the Greater Manchester Hydrogen Partnership (GMHP), which was launched in 2013.
Amer Gaffar, MFCIC partnership director, said: “This is very timely for Manchester, with UK hydrogen infrastructure continuing to grow.
“Our aim is to provide the correct conditions for SMEs in the sector to develop new technology but also provide the space and support for new start-up companies to flourish.”
The centre will initially work with 50 local SMEs over a three year period, starting in December 2016. The facility will be fully operational by December 2017.