A £4 million technology hub for Manchester companies to create the next generation of carbon-neutral hydrogen fuel cells is being launched at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre (MFCIC) will house the latest equipment for SMEs to develop hydrogen fuel cells to create green and emission-free energy.

The Centre has been awarded £1.6 million from the European Regional Development Fund for state-of-the art equipment currently unavailable to the city’s buoyant low-carbon SME sector. The University will fund the remaining cost.

MFCIC will produce advanced materials for fuel cells and next generation energy storage, utilising nanomaterials and 3D printing for example, and plan hydrogen and fuel cell infrastructure for the region.

It will speed up the research and development of the high-tech fuel cells – which convert hydrogen into water and oxygen to produce electricity – to accelerate testing, prototyping, scale-up for industry and create routes to market.

Dr David Lambrick, Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science and Engineering, said, “This is truly a ground-breaking initiative to drive forward innovation in our SMEs, develop emission-free energy and firmly position Manchester as a worldwide centre of excellence in fuel cells.”

He added, “Fuel cells are a fundamental part of the hydrogen economy and what we have at Manchester Metropolitan is the expertise in advanced materials, nanotechnology, smart grid technology and business development.”

Initially, the Centre will work with 50 Manchester-based SMEs over a three-year period. The project begins in December with engagement of researchers and SMEs, and the facility will be fully operational by December 2017.