Another hydrogen boost for platinum fuel cells

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    The introduction of platinum-using fuel cells has received another boost with the latest success in hydrogen compression announced by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) on Wednesday.

    Last week, Amplats revealed plans for a fuel cell dozer, which makes use of hydrogen in liquid, to make a 2019 debut in one of its underground mines.

    Amplats on Wednesday further announced that it has, alongside Shell Technology Ventures (STV), invested in High-Yield Energy Technologies (HyET), which has developed electrochemical hydrogen compression (EHC) technology that will support the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

    HyET’s technology, which is cost-effective and reliable, substitutes for mechanical hydrogen compression, both in existing industrial applications and hydrogren refuelling stations.

    The EHC technology is expected to play a significant role in realising a sustainable hydrogen economy, Amplats said in a statement on Wednesday.

    The company’s latest compressor, the HCS-100, compresses hydrogen by forcing the gas through a platinum-based membrane, to reach pressures of up to 1 000 bar, while ensuring its simultaneous purification. With no moving parts, the HCS-100 operates at a fraction of the cost of, and is more reliable, than current mechanical compressors.

    In addition, highly compressed hydrogen can store a large amount of energy, much more than conventional batteries.

    As a comparison: a car drives about 100 km on 1 kg of compressed hydrogen, while it drives a mere 1 km on the energy stored in 1 kg of batteries.

    The ability to cost-effectively and reliably compress hydrogen will play an important part in accelerating the adoption of FCEVs and other vehicles such as fuel cell powered trucks and busses.

    Therefore the investment, which assists in accelerating the commercialisation of HyET’s technology, is aimed at driving demand for platinum directly and indirectly through enabling the adoption of FCEVs, which require platinum-based catalysts.

    “We support the commercialisation of new applications that use our metals, particularly those that are synergistic with our business and existing portfolio companies. This investment in HyET boosts demand for our metals while simultaneously taking advantage of the accelerating roll-out of HRS and the adoption of FCEVs,” said Amplats platinum-group metals (PGMs) investment programme CEO Andrew Hinkly.

    He added that the company’s investment in HyET adds another building block to its portfolio of investments aimed at increasing demand for PGMs.

    STV deal lead Peter van Giessel noted that Shell is pleased to support HyET in developing and bringing to market the innovative hydrogen technology.

    “Shell believes hydrogen will play an important role in a low-carbon transport future and that HyET is an exciting option to help reduce emissions and improve air quality,” he said.

    “We are excited to partner with Amplats and STV. The investment will allow us to accelerate the deployment of our technology across the globe,” commented HyET CEO Rombout Swanborn.

    – Mining Weekly

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