South Africa revealed an innovative prototype for a hydrogen fuel cell forklift and refuelling station on Thursday, which relies heavily on platinum which the country has in adundance and could stimulate demand for the precious metal.
The 12 million rand ($812 858) project by Impala Platinum, the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Systems and the Department of Science and Technology will encourage the development of hydrogen and fuel cell products.
“Developing a viable fuel cell industry in South Africa has several advantages for the country such as economic development, sustainable job creation and social good. As the world’s largest platinum supplying region there is a guaranteed supply of the metal as well as the potential to increase global platinum demand,” said Terence Goodlace, CEO of Implats.
“Fuel cells are a collection of technologies that use electro-chemical processes rather than combustion to produce power. The technology will significantly enhance ventilation requirements, and reduce heat, noise levels, and noxious and sulphide emissions underground,” the collaboration explains.
With about 80 per cent of the world’s platinum resources in South Africa the fuel cell industry is said to have the potential to “revolutionise the way power is delivered to all areas of our lives including cars, mobile phones, computers, homes and workplaces”.
The three-year project is the first of its kind in South Africa and Goodlace said Implats plans to use the hydrogen fuel cell technology as its main source of energy for material handling and underground mining equipment.
According to the statement, Impala’s longer-term “strategic investments include exploring a carbon neutral fuel source for its operations, and participating in collaborative efforts through the Implats’ roadmap to develop fuel cell technology to drive knowledge-based skills development, job creation and to increase foreign direct investment in South Africa.”