Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: South Africa has stepped up to the plate with a world-first hydrogen electrolyser at a time of soaring global demand.
Creamer: We need local electrolysers, because if you try and get one internationally, they are in such demand, you just cannot get them. That is why it is wonderful news that Hydrox of Randburg has stepped up and produced a proof of concept of this electrolyser and they will have it commercial by the end of the year. This is an advanced alkaline electrolyser. Normally, when you hear alkaline and you think well, there is no platinum group metal. Platinum group metals are music to the ears of South Africans, because we are the biggest producers of these metals. But with this advanced Hydrox alkaline electrolyser, they have combined the low cost of alkaline with the magic of platinum group metals. They have created an advanced alkaline electrolyser and the platinum group metals improve the efficiency dramatically, which is meaning that this is in demand already. The enquiries are there, and 70% of this is local, with the local content set to rise once South Africa gets an electrolyser supply chain up and running. But it is something that is really good for mines at the moment and rural areas. You can just take a 40 foot container, with the electrolyser in it, and obtain your hydrogen – green hydrogen, if the sun and the wind are providing the electrical power, which will also materially reduce the cost. You will then be able to store this hydrogen. That is the wonderful thing about hydrogen, you can store it. When you are storing it, you are storing electricity, you are storing energy, and you can use it as needed. They will be starting off with one megawatt and then they will build up.
Kamwendo: A massive breakthrough has resulted in hydrogen being given an oil-like skin that allows it to use existing global infrastructure.
Creamer: There is a lot of concern about hydrogen, it is very light. It has had a history of really being dangerous. We know of the Hindenburg where it exploded. What the Germans have done now, they have given it an oil like skin. So it becomes like oil. Any of the infrastructure that you have, you have pipelines, you have trucks, you have ships, you have storage tanks, you can now use what they call LOHC – liquid organic hydrogen carrier. It carries the hydrogen and turns it oil-like, which means that hydrogen has been turned into a safe and efficient universal energy carrier – like oil is now – and can be traded, with the big plus being that it is environmentally friendly in a world that is going all out to combat climate change. So, it is a massive breakthrough, and not only can you store this, but you can store this for a day, you can store it for a month, you can store it for a year, you can store for ten years, which is magic to South Africans. Yes, because you're storing energy there, and use it when needed in our country that knows all about load shedding. You need to have power that you can draw on when needed, which makes this a great breakthrough by the German company Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.