Ballard Power Systems and Anglo American Platinum Limited, the world’s leading primary producer of platinum group metals, are working in partnership on a number of early-stage stationary and motive power applications of fuel cells in the South African market.
The companies deployed and demonstrated a 150 kW fuel cell system near the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Durban, South Africa in late-2011. COP17 was a high-level summit on climate change.
Anglo American Platinum is also beginning above ground testing of five fuel cell-powered locomotives at its Dishaba mine in Limpopo province, South Africa. The locomotives use Ballard fuel cell stacks in a system designed by Vehicle Projects Inc. of Golden, Colorado, USA and are ultimately intended for use in transporting equipment underground at mining sites. A public launch event to be hosted by Anglo American Platinum is planned for May 9 in Rustenburg, South Africa, to be followed by above ground testing over the next several months.
In addition, during 2012 Ballard and Anglo American Platinum are undertaking a market feasibility study and test of a proof-of-concept system for a small-scale electric generator that will utilize onsite propane or natural gas. The system will utilize an integrated fuel reformer to extract hydrogen from hydrocarbon fuel, which will then be channeled to a fuel cell stack. Ballard has leading expertise in Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM), fuel cell stack technology—which utilizes platinum as a catalyst material—as well as fuel reformer technology and other components required to build a complete system.
A finished product, once designed and tested, could supplement the power grid for homes and businesses in geographies where the grid is unreliable.