Platinum to power Africa

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) is to invest USD$4 million in Canadian company Ballard in order to support projects to commercialise platinum-based fuel cell products.

Specifically, this will include the development of a prototype ‘home generator’ with the potential to provide cheap electric power to remote rural African households, stored using Ballard’s methanol-based fuel cell technology.

Godfrey Oliphant, South Africa’s deputy mineral resources minister, said his department was pleased by Amplats’ commitment to platinum beneficiation, adding that fuel cell-based product developments could boost global platinum demand.

“South Africa is the leading producer of platinum, and innovations such as the home generator project move our country in a positive direction towards participating actively in the application of platinum-group metals in new technologies which will create important jobs for our economy,” Oliphant said.

Bike powered storage wins design prize

South Africa-based Ideso has won a prestigious international design award for its PowerPac generation and energy storage unit. Retailing at around USD$668, PowerPac attaches to a common-or-garden bicycle to utilise peddle power and can store up to 132Wh of electricity for home use, reports Media Club South Africa.

Moroccan wind turbines use hydrogen storage

A collaboration between Pure Energy Centre, Sahara Wind Inc. and Al Akhawayn University in Morocco has produced Africa’s first combination of wind power and hydrogen energy storage. Excess power from three turbines is used to produce hydrogen through the hydrolysis of water, while the oxygen is currently released into the atmosphere – although there are plans to capture the gas for other uses. The project is located at the university, where it will be used primarily for research and teaching.

An interesting detail is that part of its funding comes from NATO, as part of its Science for Peace and Security frameworks – another example of the military getting involved in renewables.