South Africa: SA's Ambitious Fuel Cell Programme Is Not Exactly a Catalyst for Progress


SA has committed to achieving 'a 25% share of the global hydrogen and fuel cell catalysts market with novel platinum group metal (PGM) catalysts'. What might one expect of this initiative?

Today, 8 October, is the fifth occasion that the US is to celebrate Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day. Why that date? Well, the average atomic weight of hydrogen is 1.008 and so in US date style 8 October (1008) is Hydrogen Day.

In late September, the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) "agreed to develop a Strategy on a just transition to a low-carbon path of development that takes into account the interests of workers, communities and broader society. This should include such new technologies as fuel cell applications which require platinum group metals (PCM) [sic] which South Africa has in abundance."

So far so good. What then is a fuel cell? Those who remember school science know that water may be split into hydrogen and oxygen by means of an electric current. A 1.5V torch cell will do. The reverse is also true: if hydrogen and oxygen are combined, electricity and water will be produced. This is the principle of the fuel cell, invented by Welsh judge William Grove,...

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