Platinum-based hydrogen, fuel cell decarbonisation winning global support

14th December 2022 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Platinum-based hydrogen, fuel cell decarbonisation winning global support

Hydrogen reaching for the sky.

JOHANNESBURG ( – Platinum-based green hydrogen and fuel cell clean energy solutions made news across a broad front in 2022.

Active support for the creation of a viable green hydrogen economy, along with the firm underpinning of a just energy transition in South Africa, have captured many headlines.

Moreover, South Africa’s Sasol is among 18 international companies that are part of an initiative – led by the Port of Rotterdam Authority – to enable the import of one-million tonnes of hydrogen a year for the decarbonisation of industry and mobility in Europe. The procurement of 30 km of pipeline and valves for the Rotterdam section of the hydrogen network began more than a year ago.

Attention has also been drawn to new green hydrogen pipeline plans being advanced in conjunction with renewable energy generation the world over.

Green hydrogen generation is gaining traction fast as a means of increasing energy security at a time when geopolitical disruption is creating energy insecurity.

Platinum-based proton exchange membrane, or PEM, electrolysis technology is increasingly being acknowledged as one of the most advanced and efficient technologies available to manufacture electrolysers that turn water into green hydrogen – a zero-emission standout.

International consultancy firm McKinsey has described the urgency to invest in mature hydrogen projects as being greater than ever.

Globally, 40 national hydrogen strategies, including South Africa’s Hydrogen Society Roadmap, have been announced as countries set pathways to tap into hydrogen’s potential to decarbonise, ensure energy security, and spur sustainable economic growth from stranded energy resources, added McKinsey in a recent report.

Hydrogen is being acknowledged for having the capacity to accelerate the energy transition by allowing clean energy to be stored and large volumes to be transported over long distances through pipelines and ships.

It is credited with being able to foster greater resilience, cost-efficiency and optimisation at a system level.

Hydrogen is being increasingly recognised as a versatile clean molecule that is able to perform multiple roles across end-uses while going hand-in-hand with other decarbonisation levers such as direct electrification, carbon capture and storage, biofuels, and energy efficiency measures.

As the lightest of elements, hydrogen is directly usable in fuel cells, which are also PGMs-based, to provide mobility or stationary power, or for high-grade heat.

Most importantly, it is needed in its green form to achieve genuine net-zero emissions.

Platinum-based PEM water electrolysis development is under way in South Africa by HySA Infrastructure at North West University and is increasingly the electrolysis method of choice internationally.

A platinum-based PEM electrolyser system is earmarked for Linde’s new hydrogen production plant in Niagara Falls, New York, a milestone project for energy transition in the US, said Amy Davis, VP new power at Cummins, which is intent on scaling the green hydrogen economy as well as its ability to support large-scale renewable hydrogen production.

At the plant, Cummins’ electrolysers will be powered by hydropower, making the end product completely green.

Efforts to establish a role for hydrogen in energy systems have been taking place in several countries since the 1970s, wrote senior associate editor Sonal Patel in the July edition of Power, which focuses on Japan’s Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research, where a hydrogen energy management system is being tested to achieve the optimal combination of production and storage without using storage batteries.

Mining Weekly can report that other nuclear power stations gearing up for clean hydrogen include New York’s Nine Mile Point, Ohio’s Davis–Besse nuclear power station, Minnesota’s Prairie Island nuclear generating plant, and Arizona’s Palo Verde nuclear station.

Meanwhile, aircraft company Airbus has revealed that it is developing a hydrogen-powered fuel cell engine.

“Fuel cells are a potential solution to help us achieve our zero-emission ambition,” said Glenn Llewellyn, VP zero-emission aircraft, Airbus.

More than 130 countries covering 90% of global gross domestic product have introduced net-zero targets, and 46 countries have implemented or announced carbon dioxide emissions pricing or trading schemes.