JM expands fuel cell component manufacturing operations into China

  • Date 26 Oct 2020

Johnson Matthey is expanding its fuel cell operations into China with a £7.5 million state of the art facility to manufacture critical components for customers in the region. The facility is now complete, with commissioning now in progress. JM expects the new site to be fully operational and serving its growing customers in China and beyond by January 2021.

Fuel cells are an attractive solution as societies take action to decarbonise emissions from transportation – one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions globally. They use clean or low carbon fuels, such as hydrogen, to generate power and produce no harmful emissions, with water as the only by product. Fuel cells have proved ideal in heavy duty or high usage applications, such as trucks and buses, because of their longer range, low relative weight and fast refuelling times compared to battery alternatives. As such, 5% of trucks globally are expected to be fuel cell powered by 2030, rising to a third in 2040 .

Through many years of collaborating with fuel cell suppliers in China, Johnson Matthey’s fuel cell technology is already powering more than 700 fuel cell buses and commercial vehicles on China’s roads today and have clocked up more than 6.5 million kilometres of zero emission travel - equivalent to 350 round trips from JM’s UK site in Swindon to the new facility in Shanghai.

JM’s new facility sees the company expand its fuel cell component production outside of the UK for the first time and will initially create more than 25 new jobs. At capacity, the new plant will produce around four million MEA components, a vital part of the fuel cell stack, per annum – enough to power more than 10,000 commercial vehicles and buses, avoiding 125,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions from China’s roads every year. This facility, together with investments to expand JM’s facility in the UK, will increase the company’s total annual capacity to more than six million MEAs by early 2021.

The handover of the new facility to JM from its construction contractor is well timed, coinciding with a Chinese government announcement that put in place new policies to support the development of fuel cell technologies. The measures include potential subsidies for companies like JM who are developing core fuel cell technology, with the aim to boost China’s competitive advantage in producing hydrogen powered vehicles.

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