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.
THE LOW TEMPERATURE PEMFC (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 growing mobility market. The technology however suﬀers of some drawbacks that undermine the overall picture.
LT-PEMFC performances are really dependant on hydrogen purity.
Indeed, the LT-PEMFC’ membranes can be poisoned by impurities (like carbon monoxide) that durably bond with the catalyst and durably 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.
LT-PEMFC are complex systems
The chemistry of the membrane implies that the hydrogen humidiﬁcation must be carefully controlled for the stack to work properly. That adds many complex and bulky auxiliaries like humidiﬁers and blowers, which reduce the overall stack eﬃciency. Even if signiﬁcant milestones have been achieved in that respect, the complexity of humidiﬁcation system is still a major issue for most industrial. Finally, when hydrogen and oxygen recombine to produce water, droplets block the tiny channels used for fuel admission. That leads to complex and expensive ﬂow plate design in order to help the water removal.
THE HIGH TEMPERATURE PEMFC (HT-PEMFC) To mitigate the LT-PEMFC drawbacks described above, simpler systems that are more tolerant to impurities have emerged. They use phosphoric acid doped membranes (PBI for Polybenzimidazole membrane) and work in the range of 160-180°C.
The humidiﬁcation system present on LT-PEMFC are not relevant anymore, as the membrane uses phosphoric acid as conductive media so uncontrolled hydrogen humidity is just ﬁne. Still talking about water, high temperature systems (well above boiling point) have no more channel blockage eﬀect like the one described above.
… that can use various gas sources
HT-PEMFC also have the huge advantage of being tolerant to massive amount of impurities. A thousand time more tolerant than LT-PEMFC! HT-PEMFC can then run on many diﬀerent fuels, from electrolyser to biogaz, through readily available methanol or natural gas.
A higher eﬃciency
Because HT-PEMFCs run at higher temperature, the generated heat can be valued in micro-combined heat and power systems (micro-CHP). Thus, they are perfect candidates for domestic use, with an overall eﬃciency up to 95%.
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.
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: IMT Mines Albi – Campus Jarlard 81013 ALBI