Solid-state battery technology and materials developer Ilika announced the grant of three patents covering catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells in the US on Thursday.
The AIM-traded company said the patents covered a type of catalyst known as 'core-shell catalysts', where the catalyst was the coating on nano-scale spherical particles, akin the hard shell on a golf ball.
"Catalysts are key to ensuring the efficiency and reliability of fuel cells," the board explained.
"The catalysts must therefore be stable in the aggressive acidic environment created within hydrogen fuel cells, whilst highly active in promoting the chemical reactions necessary for converting hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and water."
Core-shell nanostructured catalysts typically had a relatively low-cost and stable core, which was then coated with a thin layer - shell - of the active catalyst, Ilika explained.
It said its patented catalysts had mixed metal oxide (ceramic) cores covered in platinum.
The three wholly-owned granted patents were originally filed in January 2013.
Ilika had previously undertaken a joint development project with Toyota examining other catalyst materials which resulted in an earlier jointly-owned patent filing, which had since gone to grant in Japan and was currently being processed in other jurisdictions.
"Whilst our solid-state battery programme is our key focus, our materials discovery platform is generating innovative, patentable materials with a variety of applications," said CEO Graeme Purdy.
"The pace of innovation in the automotive industry has never been greater as companies compete to develop increasingly more energy-efficient, low emission vehicles."
Purdy said that, while electrical hybrid vehicles using battery technology had captured the largest share of the low-emission market so far, and fully battery-powered electric vehicles were also seeing strong take-up, fuel cell vehicles offered the advantage of long driving range "which justifies the development of key technologies such as low-cost, robust catalysts."