Hydrogen highlighted as ‘slam dunk’ of heavy haul

13th July 2022

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – What will be Australia’s biggest electrolyser – a platinum-using proton exchange membrane, or PEM, electrolyser – is on order to provide green hydrogen Down Under at a time when the planet’s lightest molecule is being highlighted as the ‘slam dunk’ of heavy-haul transport in a decarbonising world.

Viva Energy Australia has ordered the PEM water electrolyser from Nel Hydrogen US. When installed, it will provide green hydrogen to a fleet of heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), which also use platinum group metals (PGMs) to catalyse the conversion of hydrogen into electricity for vehicle mobility and, if needed, also stationary power.

With a contract value of about €4-million, the PEM electrolyser system is expected to be delivered in the third quarter of 2023, Nel stated in a media release to Mining Weekly.

Viva Energy Australia, an ASX-listed company, owns the Geelong refinery and supplies a service station network of around 1 350 Shell and Liberty service stations across Australia, where the Australian Renewables Energy Agency is funding a 300 MWh grid-forming battery in south-west New South Wales.

Interestingly, a new heavy transport transition report published by Rethink Energy names hydrogen as the ‘slam dunk’ of heavy-duty long-distance FCEV trucking, ship transport and air travel

News also just out is that the newly established company Innoplate is expected to accelerate the production of bipolar plates for the PEM fuel cell market.

Meanwhile, British Petroleum company bp and Germany’s thyssenkrupp are working together, as part of a memorandum of understanding, to help the hard-to-abate steelmaking sector to decarbonise faster with the use of hydrogen.

Also, Air Products has signed an agreement with VPI of the UK to develop an 800 MW hydrogen production facility in Immingham, in pursuit of decarbonisation.

In addition, Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh of the US, and Port of Antwerp-Bruges CEO Jacques Vandermeiren are working together to bring green hydrogen to the heart of Europe, while Wood Mackenzie reports that 20% of the world’s green hydrogen projects are now located in Spain, which is in second place to the US’s 50% of green hydrogen projects.

The technology for producing green hydrogen is now a central component of the European Union’s climate strategy for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Neon director Lion Hirth advocates on LinkedIn that hydrogen rather than electricity be transported given that hydrogen pipelines have the potential to carry so much more energy than electricity power lines, though both have comparable investment cost.

As reported by Anglo American Platinum CEO Natascha Viljoen last month, South Africa is one of only four countries that has more renewable energy potential available to it than what it needs for itself, which places the country in a very strong position to be able to export green energy, with hydrogen in the form of ammonia, hydrogen gas or liquid hydrogen among the best ways of doing so.

As Mining Weekly reported last week, a green electron and green molecule energy transition is tailor-made for South Africa, owing to this country’s superior sun, prime wind and land, favourable storage potential, know-how and PGMs for green electricity and green mobility.

Not all hydrogen generation is done with the help of PGMs. Hydrogen generation through alkaline electrolysers does not require PGMs, and nor does hydrogen from ammonia and direct combustion.

Hydrogen is only green when renewables apply and renewables are inconsistent, which means storage is essential, and energy is exceedingly storable as hydrogen.

If PEM electrolysers and PEM fuel cells win out – which they should on efficiency grounds – it will be a colossal bonus for South Africa because these require the PGMs that Southern Africa hosts in such abundance.

In fact, a green hydrogen energy transition can be the just energy transition that South Africa simply must have.

More news on the platinum front is that platinum is also being used to keep food fresher for longer, which has led to Anglo American entering into a partnership with Furuya Metal Americas.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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