Pretoria: The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has announced that it will partner with Implats to use and build local skills in the development of hydrogen and fuel cell products.
The collaboration between the department and Implats, the world’s second-largest platinum producer, is intended to attain some of the objectives of the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Research, Development and Innovation Strategy (HySA Strategy).
The department has established three centres of competence under its HySA Strategy which are hosted by some of the country’s leading universities and science councils.
The HySA centres of competence have made progress in securing partnerships with the international and local private sectors, which will enable HySA to penetrate the global fuel cell market, the department said on Wednesday.
HySA Systems, one of the centres of competence, is based at the University of the Western Cape, and is engaged in systems integration and technology validation, it explained.
Implats will initially co-fund a niche project in the portfolio of HySA Systems to the value of R6 million, over a three-year cycle.
The project involves using South African raw materials to explore novel on-board hydrogen storage devices that will be used for utility vehicles such as forklifts that will be tested in the Implats environment.
Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom said that the department was delighted to announce its partnership with Implats, which it hoped would eventually lead to job creation and stimulate economic growth.
With the necessary steps being taken to gear up towards a hydrogen and fuel cell infrastructure, it was essential to begin developing a supply chain of businesses which could generate jobs and growth in these new technologies, said Professor Bruno Pollet, lead investigator and Director of HySA Systems
“Hydrogen-powered utility vehicles will help to create new working partnerships and bring about a sense of cohesion among those already working in the industry,” Pollet added.
Implats CEO Terence Goodlace said that long-term global growth could be sustained only on the foundations of resource availability and technological evolution, and that precious metals would be particularly valuable as growth patterns shifted.
Implats recognised that beneficiation as a mechanism for generating additional value from a national resource will be increasingly important, he added.