We believe energy transition is one of the major challenges of this century that our societies will have to tackle. Deep and fundamental changes in our way of producing and consuming energy must happen. HYCCO is willing to bring breakthrough technologies to the market to meet this goal.
Context and values
Hydrogen is the most promising energy vector of the 21st century. Used conjointly with fuel cells, it is possible to drastically reduce our green houses gases emissions. Right now.
Our startup is technology driven, with innovation deeply rooted in its core values. We have surrounded ourselves with the best experts in composite processing and fuel cells to develop our technology in order to rapidly develop a complete fuel cell stack.
What we do
We develop ultra-light, resilient and compact carbon based bipolar plates for Low and High Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (LT & HT-PEMFC), Electrolysers and REDOX flow batteries.
Fuel cells (FCs) are electro-chemical devices that convert hydrogen into electricity. For most of them, water is the only byproduct. Among the various fuel cell types that have been developed over the last decades, we are interested in proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC), which represent 75% of the total power deployed. Their very basic principle relies on a semi-permeable membrane covered with a platine catalyst, whose pores are too small to allow hydrogen atoms to go through. When hydrogen is provided on the anode, only the positive H+ ions can cross the membrane, while electrons are collected to generate current. On the cathodic side, oxygen recombines with the electron and the H+ ion to form pure water, the only byproduct of the reaction.
Each membrane is clamped between plates (called bipolar plates or ﬂow plates) that uniformly distribute oxygen – from air – and hydrogen onto the membrane’s surface. They also ensure the transportation of electrons that are generated at its interface.
LOW TEMPERATURE PEM FUEL CELL (LT-PEMFC)
The LT-PEMFC is a mature technology used in several industries, like backup power generation, forklift, trains or remote power. But they now also reach consumers, with the fast-growing mobility market.
Materials used for bipolar plates are directly responsible of the fuel cell life time. As of today, the available materials are:
- graphite: very good resistance to corrosion. Thickness and weight make it suitable for stationary applications,
- metal: Very thin and light, but highly prone to corrosion, metallic bipolar plates have a very limited lifetime (~5 000h) and thus are not quite suitable for heavy mobility applications,
- composite: very good resistance to corrosion. Thickness is however still too important (3-4 mm) to provide compact solution for the mobility market.
HYCCO® has developed an innovative composite solution that combines the compactness of metallic solutions (0.3 mm), with the durability of composites materials (20-30 000h) and their lightweights (1.5 g / cm3).
HIGH TEMPERATURE PEM FUEL CELL (HT-PEMFC)
However, LT-PEMFC membranes can be poisoned by impurities (like carbon monoxide) that durably bond with the catalyst and degrades the overall stack performance. For this reason, this technology can only use ultra-pure hydrogen that must reach at least 99.995% of purity. As of today, hydrogen produced by water electrolysis remains the only acceptable source of fuel for those systems.
To mitigate this drawback, systems more tolerant to impurities have emerged. The High Temperature PEMFCs use phosphoric acid doped membranes (PBI for Polybenzimidazole membrane) and work in the range of 160-180°C. HT-PEMFCs have many advantages over the LT-PEMFC systems, as no gas humidiﬁcation system is needed, which greatly simplify the system. HT-PEMFC are a 1 000 time more tolerant than LT-PEMFC, and thus can run on various fuels, from electrolyser to biogas, through readily available methanol or natural gas.
HYCCO® also developed high temperature bipolar plates suitable for HT-PEMFCs. Our highly conductive plates resist up to 180°C in strong phosphoric acid environment, in order to answer the corrosion issue of traditional material used in HT-PEMFC.
ELECTROLYSEUR AND REDOX FLOW BATTERIES
Both systems also use bipolar plates. HYCCO has produced bipolar plates with polymers specially adapted to the chemistry of REDOX flow batteries or electrolysers. Our preliminary tests have shown excellent results about the lifetime of our materials in strong acidic environment.
Current hydrogen technologies, from fuel cells to electrolysers and REDOX ﬂow batteries, are facing durability issues. This truly limits large-scale deployment of this energy vector. HYCCO® takes up this challenge by rethinking a key component of the entire hydrogen value chain: the bipolar plate. HYCCO® has developed an innovative process in order to manufacture highly electrically conductive element that is more durable, lighter, and does not compromise the system compactness.
We can adapt our chemistry to manufacture long-lasting elements that are suitable to your application. If your application has a weight, compactness and/or durability issues, we can help you to integrate our technology into your systems.
Our technology is well suited for both low temperature and high temperature PEM fuel cells, but could also extend to electrolyzers, REDOX batteries, or direct methanol fuel cells. Our developments show an excellent resistance to the corrosive environment of PEM fuel cells, and can be used up to 180°C. Our ﬂow plates have a web thickness of 0.3mm , a density of 1.5 g/cm3 and the ongoing test have not revealed any degradation due to the fuel cell environment.
Our carbon based component are lightweight. As of today, we managed to produce 1.5 g/cm3 bipolar plates. This is 1.7 times lighter than state of the art 0.1 mm thick metalic plates, 10 times lighter than 3 mm thick traditional composite plates.
No sign of corrosive degradation have been detected on the ongoing tests. This means a longer life time for fuel cells, suitable for both low and high temperature PEMFCs
Our product can resist to a wide range of temperature up to 180 °C. High temperature fuel cells are more tolerant to gas impurities. Thus, a wide new range of gas sources becomes possible.
Our materials do not compromise the compactness of the stack. Our plates are 5 to 6 times thinner than other composite bipolar plates, and have equivalent thickness compare to metalic ones.
HYCCO aims to become a major manufacturer of bipolar plate, for fuel cell makers willing to prepare their next generation of hydrogen fuel cell. From R&D to integration, HYCCO will help you to integrate our proprietary technology into your system, and provide bipolar plates manufacturing capabilities, from prototypes to mass production.
HYCCO was present at the hydrogen day on heavy mobility organized by Hydeo. What a pleasure to see/meet all... read more
Address: HYCCO, 3 avenue Didier Daurat, 31400 TOULOUSE