Spin-off company for Chemical Engineering

17 Jun 2015 - 16:00

HyCat (Pty) Ltd, currently an entirely UCT owned company, was formed as an IP holding company and commercial vehicle of UCT’s current and future fuel cell technology portfolio. These technologies flow from the Department of Science and Technology-funded hydrogen fuel cell Centre of Competence, “HySA Catalysis”, hosted in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

HyCat’s primary goal is to develop the fuel cell supply chain in South Africa to offer technologically advanced products and components to a global market.  This will be achieved through in-licensing IP from strategic global partners, to provide the platform onto which the SA IP can be integrated to ensure that the ventures are immediately at the global forefront.

Fuel cells (FC) are one of the promising power sources for replacing internal combustion engines powered by fossil fuels. They are highly efficient, quiet, clean, and maintenance free electricity generators that use hydrogen and air as fuel.  They are of strategic importance to South Africa as the activity will unlock value addition for SA’s platinum resources and create manufacturing jobs, a service industry and secondary businesses.

The initial focus at HyCat will be on establishing a catalyst and membrane electrode assembly (MEA) supplier. The HyCat metal based gas-diffusion electrode is cheaper and more durable than the commonly used carbon fibre based electrode, which also relies on a complicated manufacturing process. Two patent applications have been filed to date, with several others in preparation.

Several additional innovative developments are underway; including novel materials for electrolyte membranes, compact fuel cell assembly structures, and novel gasket systems for metal based electrodes. These technologies can make the fuel cells smaller with increased power and durability. In addition to this, the fuel cell design aims to remove certain sub-systems surrounding the fuel cell, resulting in system cost reduction, which is the most crucial issue for fuel cell related companies.

Information from www.rcips.uct.ac.za