Innovating fuel cells - pioneering a low carbon future

Supplementary content information

An introduction to the RCUK Energy Programme, and how it is helping the transition to a low-carbon economy. This excerpt looks at fuel cells.

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Professor Nigel Brandon - Director, Energy Futures Lab, ICL

You simply don’t get these new ideas coming through without giving scientists the space they need to think through new solutions.

Ceres Power was founded in 2001 by four academics. The company was based on more than ten years basic science, fundamental research funded by the Research Councils here at Imperial College. The research developed led to new materials and new ideas by which we could apply these materials to produce a new type of fuel cell. The product that the company is launching in collaboration with British Gas for the UK market in 2011, will replace the boiler in your home, it will run on natural gas and, by generating electricity as well as heat for your home, it will save you energy, it will reduce the fuel consumption, and, for a typical British home, it will reduce the carbon emissions by about one and a half tons per year and save the home owner around one quarter of their energy bill.

It is quite clear that we can make significant progress in meeting our near term carbon reduction targets by deploying technologies we have available to us today, but if we are going to deliver the 80 per cent cut in carbon emissions that the commission on Climate Change tell us we need, we are going to have to develop transformational technologies and if we are going to develop new breakthrough ideas we clearly have to invest in the research that generates those ideas.