JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – This month’s launch of the world’s first fuel cell double-decker bus is the latest example of platinum helping to power the world’s new clean air revolution.
The fuel cell bus was developed as a part of the European Union-funded joint initiative for hydrogen vehicles, which make use of platinum, hosted overwhelmingly by South Africa.
News of the double-decker launch in London coincides with China’s warm embrace of the new energy vehicles and Tokyo’s declaration of platinum-catalysed hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as the official transport providers of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
“What has really been a twinkle in everyone’s eye around fuel cells is really starting to change,” the Financial Times quoted Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) CEO Chris Griffith as saying, following the company's hosting of a visit to China to give analysts and journalists first-hand insight into the Asian giant's backing of hydrogen fuel cell development.
The Financial Times reported that while Chinese authorities were reducing subsidies for electric battery-powered vehicles, they would continue subsidising hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, targeting one-million by 2030. This would create demand for about 750 000 oz of platinum.
In the past decade, China has reportedly spent some $58-billion supporting its electric car industry, creating the world’s largest market for battery powered cars. Now authorities are setting their sights on fuel cell technology, aiming to catch up with Japan and Korea, where Toyota and Hyundai have unveiled hydrogen cars.
Mining Weekly Online can today report that platinum is currently considered the most efficient metal for catalysing the chemical reaction that takes place in hydrogen fuel cells.
Moreover, using renewable energy to produce the hydrogen renders the entire exercise carbon-free, which is what the world is demanding.
In the US, the California Energy Commission has just voted in favour of an $8-million grant for a new high capacity hydrogen fuelling station at the Port of Long Beach to service zero emission fuel cell trucks.
In Scotland, the city of Aberdeen has launched a fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses and governments the world over have been urged to support large-scale investment in hydrogen infrastructure so that platinum-catalysed fuel cells can provide clean, noiseless, low-maintenance and competitive electricity in mobile and stationary applications across the industrial, commercial and residential spectrum.
South Africa’s Business Day reports that the China visit hosted by Amplats showed that the nascent hydrogen fuel cell industry is gaining traction on the back of generous national and provincial government subsidies that encourage the uptake of hydrogen vehicles to cut pollution.
The China File publication has declared platinum-catalysed hydrogen fuel cells as one of the most promising new technologies of the twenty-first century for electricity generation, owing to the process being much more efficient, cleaner and safer than any currently available conventional technology.
“At some time during this century, fuel cells, together with renewables, could replace most existing thermal power generation capacity and eliminate the need for direct burning of fossil fuels and fossil-derived liquid fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, and fuel oil,” the publication stated.
Hydrogen Fuel News stated in a report this week that vehicle manufacturers that failed to comply with China’s new low-emission rules might even risk having their assembly lines shut down.
The World Economic Forum in Davos declared hydrogen to be the clean fuel that can take the planet into a no-carbon future, on the back of technology breakthroughs that include liquefied hydrogen now being safely transportable in much the same way as oil.