New Low-Platinum Patent Issued for Fuel Cell Technology

Process covers the method of manufacture of a wide variety of platinum-based powder formulations including platinum-containing fuel cell electrocatalysts.

Published: 01-Feb-2001

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 31, 2001--Superior MicroPowders, LLC (SMP), a developer and manufacturer of materials for the fuel cell industry, Wednesday issued statements regarding its recently issued patent (U.S. 6,165,247) covering methods of manufacture of platinum-based fuel cell electrocatalysts.

SMP's recently issued patent covers the method of manufacture of a wide variety of platinum-based powder formulations including platinum-containing fuel cell electrocatalysts.

Furthermore, this patent adds significantly to SMP's fuel cell patent portfolio as an addition to a previous patent (U.S. 6,103,393) covering the composition of matter of metal carbon composite powders and related fabricated devices.

Bob Size, SMP's president and chief executive officer, commented on the market relevance of SMP's fuel cell patents and its production capabilities, "As PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell development matures, the cost of the platinum containing electrodes in the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) will continue to increase in significance.

"PEM fuel cell manufacturers are busy optimizing their assembly techniques with an eye towards minimizing fabrication costs. At the same time, precious metal prices remain volatile, continue to climb with demand, and will represent the largest cost component of PEM fuel cell technology in the near future.

"Platinum exposure represents the greatest long-term hurdle to broad market adoption of PEM fuel cell technology. SMP has focused on providing a solution to this precious metal problem resulting in a novel approach to large-scale electrocatalyst manufacture. SMP electrocatalyst systems require significantly less platinum than competitive materials and are also highly reproducible.

"SMP's installed capacity is capable of supplying the tons of high performance electrocatalyst which will soon be required to support this market."

Added Dr. Mark Hampden-Smith, vice president and director of Emerging Technologies with SMP, "When we started applying our patented spray-based processes to areas like fuel cells, thin-form batteries, and other advanced materials systems in 1997, we aimed at systematically controlling a wide range of parameters to fine-tune resulting materials characteristics.

"We believe we are developing and selling powder-based materials in which our ability to control particle microstructure results in enhanced performance and superior lot-to-lot consistency compared to competing routes. Furthermore, the powders produced allow for the fabrication of layered structures with well controlled characteristics where improved performance is routinely achieved."

Mike Wallace, managing director of Barrington Energy Partners (www.benergy.com), stated, "We are excited for our client regarding this important Intellectual Property development. Many potential new investors for SMP, be they other general manufacturers or energy companies with the intent to invest in fuel cell component production, follow patent issues very closely.

"We expect that the market place will clearly recognize the continuing significant position that SMP is assuming in the fuel cell value chain."

SMP (www.smp1.com) is an enabling materials solutions provider. SMP is active in developing and manufacturing next generation materials for closely related product niches in fuel cells and thin-form batteries as well as displays and other advanced products.

Barrington Energy Partners (www.benergy.com) is a private equity and advisory services firm based in Chicago.

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