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Cape Town University tests HFC systems as a solution to SA’s power outages

The Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Systems Centre of Competence, located at the University of the Western Cape offers a viable alternative to fossil fuels to alleviate South Africa’s protracted energy crises – with the use of hydrogen fuel cells.

The Centre’s electricity is supplied by a prototype hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) power generator.

The generator can produce up to 2.5 KW of electricity which could be generated on-site using a water electrolyser and provides a clean and convenient solution, including places that aren’t connected to the electricity grid.

‘Hydrogen fuel cells take the energy produced by a chemical reaction in the presence of a catalyst such as platinum and convert it into usable electrical power, with only water vapour and heat as by-products,’ says The Africa Report

Fuel cells are widely used in transportation, portable uses, and stationary installations – anything that runs on electricity.

Prof. Bruno Pollet, Director at HySA Systems said: ‘Hydrogen is the most abundant gas in the universe, so with HFC systems the energy is inexhaustible’ – good news for an energy strapped South Africa.

Prof. Pollet maintains that before HFC systems are deployed, users of HFC need to be educated around the technology to realise the full benefits it can offer.

With funding from the government’s Department of Science and Technology, HySA Systems has already produced a number of innovative motor applications using HFC, including a hydrogen- powered tricycle, golf cart an fuel-cell component manufacturing line. HySA and its partner, Hot Platinum are currently testing a fuel-cell system for domestic use.

‘Hydrogen fuel cells could be commercially available in South Africa as soon as the local industry, government departments and other stakeholders see the benefits of the technology: low cost, high efficiency, clean performance,’ said the HySA Systems Director.


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