Hydrogen fuel cell technology moving at very fast pace – Implats

27th February 2020 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Hydrogen fuel cell technology moving at very fast pace – Implats

Sifiso Sibiya

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Fuel cell technology is moving at a very fast pace, Implats group executive: refining and marketing Sifiso Sibiya said on Thursday.

Hydrogen gas from energy company Sasol is already piped to the Impala Platinum refinery site in Springs, on the East Rand, where Implats has donated 16 ha of land for fuel cell manufacture on the platinum group metals (PGMs) special economic zone (SEZ). (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

“It’s exciting times in terms of hydrogen energy and fuel cells and we should be seeing quite steep developments in the coming 12 to 24 months. Where we were two, three years back was totally different to where we are currently,” Sibiya said in response to Mining Weekly during a roundtable media conference.

“We’re crystallising our plans and once we have that we’ll definitely come back to the market,” he added.

Implats will be doing a lot more to boost its ‘green’ company credentials and has recently been recognised for its strong management of water security risk.

“I’m hoping that within the next six to 12 months we will start announcing some major renewable energy and other green projects,” said Muller.

Implats group executive: corporate affairs Johan Theron said that having hydrogen already piped to the site enhanced the company’s decarbonisation efforts “and there are options to do more with that hydrogen”, Theron added.

Sibiya said the SEZ was attracting foreign manufacturers to South Africa to manufacture products that would help the world in its quest to decarbonise.

The company had, he said, recently hosted consultants engaged in an environmental impact assessment and the company was working closely with its Gauteng Industrial Development Zone partner.

“We’re still following our fuel cell development roadmap. So, we still support our partners, including Hydrogen South Africa. We’re looking at how we can use fuel cell technology within our facilities. If you look at where Eskom is going, we are discussing what we can do to ensure that our operations remain viable in the case of the non-existence of Eskom,” he said.

On using solar energy to produce hydrogen on site, he responded: “We looked at a project last year but it only gave us 11 MW and we need about 22 MW for our operation throughout the day. That was insufficient and in terms of space, solar requires a large number of hectares on which to place solar panels. At night, if we had generated hydrogen from there, it would have given us 200 kW, which would not have been sufficient to run our operations.

“We are continuously investigating different technologies and what is quite nice within the market is the fast pace at which fuel cell technology is moving,” Sibiya added.

Engineering News & Mining Weekly will be publishing a special feature on HYDROGEN, FUEL CELLS & THE GREEN ECONOMY. Book now through Reinette Classen at +27 11 622-3744 or reinette@engneeringnews.co.za