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Fuel cells power village in South African trial

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has partnered with Canadian company Ballard Power Systems and Eskom on a field trial of a methanol-fuelled home generator system to light up the homes in a small village in rural South Africa.

fuel cell system photo ballard power systems

The 34 homes of Naledi Trust, a village in the Free State province, will receive uninterrupted primary power via a prototype off-grid solution in a trial aimed at gauging the potential to of fuel-cell based systems to provide economical electric power to remote rural African households.

“This field trial will provide valuable insight into the market requirements of off-grid communities,” Andrew Hinkly, Amplats’ executive head of marketing, said on Tuesday.

“The fuel cell product has significant market potential in South Africa and the rest of Africa. When commercialized, these products will provide an opportunity to create jobs in South Africa.”

The system uses 5-kilowatt (kW) Ballard fuel cells run on methanol fuel, integrated by Amplats into a prototype off-grid solution that includes a battery bank and inverter operating within a micro-grid.

Platinum-based fuel cells could provide a significant economic and environmental development opportunity for South Africa, opening the way for the provision of clean, reliable and cost-effective power.

South Africa holds 75% of the world’s supply of platinum, a key component of Ballard’s proton exchange membrane fuel cell products.

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