Sumitomo-Backed Acal Raises Funds to Expand Fuel-Cell Technology

Acal Energy Ltd., a U.K. developer of fuel-cell technology backed by Sumitomo Corp., expects to raise 15 million pounds ($23 million) by the end of the first half to respond to rising demand for clean power from industry.

Acal is working with Innovator Capital Ltd., an investment bank that advises clean-technology companies, to raise funds from new and current shareholders, Managing Director Brendan Bilton said in an interview in London.

“We have received a high level of interest from venture-capital companies, family offices and corporate venturers and geographically the spread is from Asia, Europe and North America,” Bilton said. “The money will be spent on expanding the technical team, research and development, intellectual-property protection and capital expenditures.”

Companies from manufacturers to retailers are installing fuel cells at factories and stores to produce clean energy on site and reduce reliance on polluting fossil fuels. Fuel cells, which like batteries produce electricity from a chemical reaction, provide continuous power, giving them an advantage over intermittent renewable energies such as solar and wind.

Acal has developed chemicals that it says curb the need for platinum in fuel cells, lowering their cost. It plans to remain a chemicals company, licensing its fuel-cell design to manufacturers, Bilton said.

Shareholders include Japanese trading house Sumitomo, Belgian chemicals company Solvay SA, I2BF Global Ventures and the U.K.’s Carbon Trust.

Acal, based in Runcorn, northern England, will generate revenue over the next six to 12 months by working with partners to replicate and verify performance data for its technology. Once that’s complete, the company will enter into joint development agreements, Bilton said.