Amplats takes another step towards fuel cell realisation

15th September 2016 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Amplats takes another step towards fuel cell realisation

Anglo American Platinum executive marketing head Andrew Hinkly
Photo by: Duane Daws

JOHANNESBURG ( – In the latest step towards the potential adoption of zero-emission fuel cell technology on a large scale, platinum mining company Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) on Thursday announced an investment in a company engaged in small-scale gas-to-liquids technology that converts flare gas, natural gas, natural gas liquids and biogas – as well as other similar feedstocks that would otherwise be wasted – into clean liquid transportation fuels, with hydrogen produced as a byproduct in the process.

Amplats said in a media release that Greyrock Energy’s systems use proprietary catalysts – incorporating metals produced by Amplats – to convert methane-containing feedstocks into premium transportation fuels.

The Greyrock process, which produces hydrogen as a byproduct, provides an alternative source of hydrogen and supports the lowering of the costs associated with hydrogen delivery for use in fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

The investment is aimed at accelerating the commercialisation of Greyrock’s technology, which will, in turn, drive demand for platinum-group metals both directly and indirectly through enabling the adoption of FCEVs, which require platinum-based catalysts.

Greyrock’s systems will simultaneously solve the environmental challenge posed by flaring.

The investment forms part of Amplats’ Platinum Group Metals Investment Programme, which provides growth capital to companies that can demonstrate the commercial viability of products or technologies that use or enable the use of the company’s metals.

Greyrock has synergies with previous Amplats investments in Hydrogenious Technologies and United Hydrogen Group.

Together, these companies have the potential to reduce the delivered costs of hydrogen, laying the foundation for widespread adoption of platinum-using fuel cell technology.

Amplats also has investments in three global fuel cell companies, Ballard Power Systems, Altergy Systems and Johnson Matthey Fuel Cells.

“We support the commercialisation of new applications that use our metals, particularly those that are synergistic with our business and existing portfolio companies,” said Amplats executive marketing head Andrew Hinkly.

Amplats could itself use the clean transportation fuels produced at its own operations while simultaneously providing a solution to the environmental challenge posed by flaring.

“This investment boosts demand for our metals while simultaneously working to reduce the delivered cost of liquid fuels and hydrogen,” Hinkly added in a media release to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online.

Greylock CEO Robert Schuetzle said the investment would allow his company to accelerate the deployment of its technology across the globe.

In addition to adding Amplats as a strategic investor, Greyrock looks forward to working with the company in other important areas where there are synergies.

The momentum around FCEVs as a zero-emission technology is continuing to build, as shown by launches and proposed launches of commercially available FCEVs by major car manufacturers.

The pictures of FCEVs bearing Hyundai, Toyota, Honda and Mercedes-Benz branding displayed earlier this year during Amplats’ presentation of financial results drew the applause of analysts.

There are now close to a 140 hydrogen refuelling stations around the world, with another 40 in development and 2 000 planned over the next ten years.

Hydrogenious Technologies of Germany, the Amplats-backed developer of the hydrogen storage and logistics system that uses innovative liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) technology, has entered the US market in partnership with United Hydrogen Group.

The patented technology reportedly facilitates the safe and efficient storage of hydrogen in an easily transportable oil, eliminating the need for pressurised hydrogen tanks.

The LOHC material used by Hydrogenious Technologies is nontoxic and nonexplosive and the development is seen as a breakthrough towards a sustainable hydrogen economy, which is needed to underpin the introduction of FCEVs.

Hydrogenious Technologies’ manufacturing plant, in Erlangen, was formally inaugurated at an event attended by key government and business officials including Bavarian Economic Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg president Professor Joachim Hornegger, Siemens Hydrogen Solutions CEO Dr Katharina Beumelburg and H2 Mobility CEO Frank Sreball.

LOHC technology, according to Hydrogenious Technologies CEO Daniel Teichmann, turns even long-distance hydrogen transport into profitable business.