Event >> Cleaning up urban air with fuel cells

Posted 30 June 2019

Bringing together a range of key public and private stakeholders in a bid to address the air pollution emergency in our cities, towns and communities, Birmingham Mayor Andy Street recently launched the STEAMlab and Clean Air, Green Future Event conference.

The opening plenary session was chaired by Professor Michaela Kendall, CEO & Co-Founder, Adelan Ltd, as Visiting Professor of Fuel Cells at Birmingham City (BCU) and Aston Universities in central Birmingham.

Responding to a series of 2030 clean air challenges the conference considered energy leadership, low-carbon buildings, and clean transport – all areas where fuel cell technologies like the micro-tubular Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (mSOFC) pioneered by Adelan can play a significant role. For example, the conference noted that petrol- and diesel-fuelled transport is damaging public health, particularly among the young, causing premature deaths while adding 20% to global warming emissions. In response, the Clean Energy Leadership Challenge is expected to produce half of the Midlands’ regional energy demand from clean energy by 2030, replacing the £10 billion currently spent importing mainly carbon-based power, gas and transport fuel.

In her address to the conference Dr Kendall emphasised the need to commercialise the tremendous innovations that are emerging from UK academic institutions, saying: “UK universities are great innovators – but they will not commercialise their innovations – businesses will. Today is all about collaborating to support small businesses deliver new technology to solve this urban air problem, whilst also addressing climate change through clean transport, heating and power generation. Coordination to commercialise these new approaches will be key, supported by government and universities. This is the heart of the UK manufacturing ecosystem – we must harness these skills in the region, for the region to achieve the Clean Growth ambitions of the Local Industrial Strategy.”

Joining Dr Kendall at BCU were Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and Enterprise, and Andrew Donald, Distributed Energy Manager at Centrica Business Solutions, among others.

The conference also explored the challenge of changing behaviour in a bid to encourage the uptake of new cleaner technologies, including building a permanent exhibition highlighting the local and global emergency from local atmospheric pollution and combined with showcasing a range of solutions, such as mSOFCs.

Setting out how Adelan is rising to the clean air challenge, Dr Kendall pledged her company to commit to developing a fuel cell incubator supported by STEAMhouse at BCU. Designed to showcase fuel cells produced and manufactured in the region – for use in the region and beyond – Dr Kendall also flagged an October public event that is to bring product designers, digital skills and fuel cell technologists together, as well as a commitment to continued collaboration with academic institutions in The Midlands like BCU and Aston University.  The event will be a STEAMlab held at STEAMhouse in Digbeth, in the city centre of Birmingham.  It will showcase UK fuel cell innovations pre-screened as ripe for commercialisation by the Fuel Cell Innovation Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University, the heart of fuel cell innovation in the UK.

Concluding, Dr Kendall said: “Collaboration, coordination and commercialisation are needed to support people excited by fuel cell technology and address the real-world struggles they will face to manoeuvre it successfully to commercial reality.  We are proposing a UK fuel cell commercialisation pathway that will inform nascent FCH businesses or those interested in using FCH products.”

Adelan Fuel Cell Technology

About Adelan

First founded in The Midlands, Birmingham-based Adelan pioneered microtubular solid oxide fuel cell (mSOFC) technology more than 30 years’ ago. Adelan’s patented and scalable technology gives the fuel cell unprecedented flexibility, allowing the system to run on a range of commonly available fuels such as LPG, natural gas or propane/butane mix. As a result, though Adelan fuel cells can also run on hydrogen, they offer considerable additional operational flexibility and ease of use benefits whilst retaining a small, compact and lightweight footprint. Adelan staff founded and built up the University of Birmingham Fuel Cells Centre, and now aim to commercialise UK fuel cell technology through the Fuel Cell Incubator, with a first event in October 2019.

To discover more about how Adelan can support your future energy ambitions or to meet your requirements for clean, quiet and reliable energy for remote, mobile or any other applications, please contact Dr Kendall and the rest of the Adelan team at:

Adelan Ltd, 15 Weekin Works, 112-116 Park Hill Road, Birmingham, B17 9HD (UK)

Tel: +44 (0)121 427 8033



Event >> UK fuel cell industry builds national strategy

Posted 11 April 2019

At the 2019 ‘Hydrogen and Fuel Cells – Powering the Future’ conference and exhibition, presentations from leading companies such as JLR, Alstom and Toyota, set out the role of hydrogen and fuel cells in meeting the green growth challenge.

Within the co-located exhibition space, the stands of major fuel cell and supply chain manufacturer SMEs such as Adelan, Microcab and Hypermotive were joined by fuel cell innovation centres like Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). Several commercial fuel cell-powered vehicles also jostled for space, slamming home the commercial reality of today’s fuel cell technology.

A series of parallel workshops saw lively discussions on themes such as the use of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies in UK cities and regions, as well as technology innovations, and both small- and large-scale applications for fuel cells.

The event follows on the heels of the new UK Fuel Cell Strategy. It is primarily based on linking cities and regions to maximise the benefits emerging from localised hot spots of skills, expertise and infrastructure. Implementing the strategy will enhance the clean tech transition role of longstanding centres of industrial engineering such as Birmingham, Manchester and Teesside.

With the fuel cell market experiencing unprecedented growth, the strategy builds on early UK leadership in the development of fuel cell technology.  This could generate huge commercial benefit for the UK, and wider social benefits for people around the world.

Speaking at the Cities and Regions workshop in Birmingham, Amer Gaffar, Director of Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre, said: “There’s a lot of strength in each region, we are very good at advanced materials for example and we’ve focused the Innovation Centre’s structure around that.”

Dr Michaela Kendall, CEO of Adelan Ltd, who chaired the Cities and Regions workshop, added: “Growth of regional fuel cell centres to support commercialisation of British innovations are vital if the UK is to capitalise on its world-leading fuel cell technologies. Workshops like these are allowing the industry to build a comprehensive body of experiences, case studies and commercial success stories that will not only build confidence in the technology but also enable other regions and cities to embrace their own opportunities for clean energy technology.”

Although fuel cells represent a unique opportunity to tackle both climate change and urban air pollution, to date the UK has not stimulated commercialisation yet, unlike other developed nations – notably Japan, Germany, the US and now China. Developed by a broad alliance of industry, academia and other stakeholders and spearheaded by the Midland Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Network, the UK strategy is designed to address that deficit.

Dr Kendall concluded: “The challenge is to commercialise fuel cells, not just to develop the technology. Small companies that aim to grow, need access to finance in order to innovate commercial models.  The hydrogen story has developed consistently over the last few years, so we now propose a ‘Grove challenge’ to parallel the Faraday challenge on batteries to further develop fuel cell technologies for the UK. Every battery needs a fuel cell!”

With applications across multiple sectors such as automotive, stationary, or portable, fuel cells are rapidly emerging as a clean energy technology that can be deployed wherever and whenever heat and power is needed.

Adelan Fuel Cell TechnologyAbout Adelan

First founded in The Midlands, Birmingham-based Adelan pioneered microtubular solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology more than 30 years’ ago. Adelan’s patented and scalable technology gives the fuel cell unprecedented flexibility, allowing the system to run on a range of commonly available fuels such as LPG, natural gas or propane/butane mix. As a result, though Adelan fuel cells can also run on hydrogen, they offer considerable additional operational flexibility and ease of use benefits whilst retaining a small, compact and lightweight foot print.

To discover more about how Adelan can support your future energy ambitions or to meet your requirements for clean, quiet and reliable energy for remote, mobile or any other applications, please contact Dr Kendall and the rest of the Adelan team at:

Adelan Ltd, 15 Weekin Works, 112-116 Park Hill Road, Birmingham B17 9HD (UK)


Event >> How fuel cells and hydrogen change the atmosphere

Posted 10 Aug 2018

As everyone knows, there is no smoke without fire. You do not need to be a scientist to recognise that smoke has become THE environmental problem to be tackled, as it causes urban air pollution, damages your lungs and exacerbates global climate change.

That is why renewable energy has surged in the last decade, providing substantial clean power.  Now Germany and other countries have an excess of renewable electricity to the point that wind and solar farms are paid to stop generating power. The intermittent nature of these renewables results in feast and famine electricity profiles, difficult to manage without effective storage options, so the UK system needs to be managed differently than before.

Generating hydrogen using cheap, green renewable power, especially in remote locations, is emerging as a clear solution in terms of both cost and environmental performance.  The hydrogen is then used in fuel cells to generate power, and some fuel cells can use hydrogen enriched natural gas so that existing gas networks can be gradually decarbonised. The EU Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking is the largest fuel cell and hydrogen investment programme in the world. The EU has the most hydrogen stations in the world right now because it has predicted that this technology will flourish globally – by 2020 China plan to have 400 stations, to ease local air pollution, and meet increasing energy demand.

A significant step towards developing the hydrogen economy in the Midlands was taken last month at the 13th Conference on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen, held at the NEC.  The conference saw the founding of the Midlands Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Network, a commercially-led, inclusive interest group which aims to consolidate the strengths of the hydrogen and fuel cell sector in the region.

The Network was established by Professor Michaela Kendall (Chair) of Birmingham City University, and co-founder of local fuel cell company Adelan, with Tony McNally of Climate Change Solutions leading the Secretariat. Four presenters were invited from public and private sector organisations with a remit to support clean energy technology development and deployment: Councilor Lisa Trickett, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment; Matthew Rhodes, Managing Director of Encraft and Chair of Energy Capital; Mike Waters, Head of Policy and Strategy at Transport for West Midlands; and John Jostins, Professor of Sustainable Transport and Design at the University of Coventry.  This Network will support fuel cell and hydrogen active businesses and groups in the region to commercialise the technology.

The benefits of transition to a low carbon economy based on fuel cells and hydrogen are clear for the Midlands: generating power locally promotes energy security and local prosperity, building manufacturing businesses for the car industry creates jobs, fuel cells decarbonise public transport by replacing diesel, and improve urban air quality for us all. As the “toxin tax” on air pollution in Birmingham looms, and the Paris Climate Agreement clauses are exerted, electrification of UK vehicles continues to ramp up.  But hydrogen will be needed to meet the practical challenges of vehicle range anxiety and recharging times, and for decarbonising heat and electricity generation in our homes.  If China adopts the Western car model based on combustion – or even goes electric – policies in the West will not be able to stop the momentum of global climate change.  In mature  economies combustion-based technologies will be replaced slowly, but huge renewable infrastructure investments are being made now in countries where reliable electricity infrastructure is a relatively new thing. Technology leapfrog allows rapidly developing countries to improve air quality quickly, reducing public health impacts, so that the same air pollution mistakes are not simply repeated. Even at the relatively low levels of air pollution found in Britain today, we have known for decades that there are big, measurable health effects. These very real effects were hidden by the “pea-souper” smogs our parents grew up with, only becoming visible once the catastrophic pollution levels were removed. Having discovered this in the early 1990s, we are only acting now, and the race is on.

The West Midlands is the natural centre for UK hydrogen and fuel cell technology development and manufacture, with a latent scientific and manufacturing base, and an emergent economic zest. Cultivating this world-leading sector is expected to bring significant benefits in the shape of business investment, increased research and development, product innovation and new jobs. Ultimately, it aims to deliver affordable energy and clean growth, keeping costs down for businesses whilst still driving growth across the country. As the logistics and manufacturing hub of the UK, the Midlands is perfectly placed to integrate fuel cells into the grid (by National Grid and British Gas), into rail through the rail franchises and Network Rail, and into vehicles through the Midlands passenger and autonomous vehicle industries. By supporting fuel cell and hydrogen businesses grow, through access to finance and growth management skills, these innovative businesses can collaborate with more established businesses to find new growth markets. By investing in fuel cells and hydrogen innovations emerging from scientific research conducted in Britain, the UK gets a head start in developing a more innovative economy and commercialising world leading science spinning out of universities. By ensuring everyone has the basic skills needed by building technical education to benefit the young people who do not go to university, skill levels can be raised.  This fits with the UK Industrial Strategy and the aligned Midlands Engine investment programme, suggesting that fuel cells and hydrogen have a significant role to play in the development of the Midlands region and the UK as a whole.  This new Midlands movement is literally changing the atmosphere in cities around the world.

The 13th Annual Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Conference keynote speakers growing the fuel cell and hydrogen economy in the Midlands: PHOTO Front Row, L-R: Bart Biebuyck Executive Director of FCH JU, the largest (€1.4 billion) fuel cell funding agency in the world, Bill Kurtz Chief Commercial Officer of the largest SOFC company in the world, Bloom Energy, Prof Michaela Kendall Birmingham City University and Co-Founder of Birmingham based fuel cell company Adelan, Yane Laperche Riteau Business Development Director of Ballard Power Systems, the largest PEM fuel cell company in the world;  Back Row, L-R:  Jamie O’Brien Senior Mechanical Engineer Johnson Matthey; Ben Madden, Director Element Energy, Graham Cooley CEO at ITM Power, the UK’s leading hydrogen provider.

First posted on April 6, 2017 by University of Birmingham

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