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Hydrogen to drive the energy revolution

Earlier this week, a global hydrogen initiative was launched in Davos, Switzerland, by 13 energy, transport and industry firms who are committed to achieving a carbon dioxide free environment, Engineering News reported.

Media reported that the companies involved are Air Liquide, Alstom, Anglo American, BMW Group, Daimler, Engie, Honda, Hyundai, Kawasaki, Royal Dutch Shell, Linde, Total and Toyota.

These firms are expected to drive the $1 billion annual investment already under way to achieve the Paris Agreement’s two degrees Celsius target, media said.

According to media, hydrogen was highlighted as the clean fuel that can achieve a carbon free future through research and developments that include liquefied hydrogen, which is now being safely transportable in much the same way as oil.

Hydrogen technology

Engineering News explained that “hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (EVs) offer the most natural solution for emission-free vehicles, discharging only water and requiring negligible change to current driving and refuelling habits.”

Air Liquide CEO Benoît Potier, said at the World Economic Forum: “Our call to world leaders is to commit to hydrogen so that together we can meet our shared climate ambitions and give further traction to the emerging hydrogen ecosystem.”

Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani said in a press release to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online that hydrogen-powered fuel cell EVs offered the most natural solution for zero emission vehicles – “emitting only water and requiring little change to the way we’re all used to driving and refuelling our cars”.

Power plants developed with hydrogen fuel cells

According to media, an 8MW off-grid power plant from a platinum-catalysed fuel cell system has proven a success.

Impala Refining Services fuel cell coordinator, Fahmida Smith, expects the first flow of funds by March and the over-the-fence power purchasing agreement (PPA) coming into effect by January 2018.

The company’s heat-integrated fuel cell plan has been found to beat state-owned power utility Eskom’s megaflex tariff over the 20-year PPA.

US Navy explores hydrogen

Last year, it was reported that US-based aerospace company and manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems, Boeing, delivered a reversible solid oxide fuel cell to the US Navy to determine its ability to support the energy needs of military and commercial customers.

The manufacturer claimed at the time that this technology is the first of its kind, which has the ability to store energy from renewable resources (including wind and solar), producing clean, zero-emissions electricity.

In February, a feasibility study of fuel cells was implemented in South Africa, and if successful, was said to be in production within two years, according to Isondo Precious Metals at the time.

The study will be financed by the Department of Trade and Industry and IPM, a company established to grow the South African platinum and metals industry, will be heading up the study.

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.