Ballard Power Systems has signed a deal with Anglo-American Platinum (Amplats) to commercialise platinum fuel cell products, such as a home generator, in rural South Africa. The US$4 million deal has the potential of providing economical electric power to remote African households.
Both companies are keen to explore the impact fuel cells could have on the economy in South Africa. Exemplifying this, Ballard said, was the joint work currently under way with Amplats on the development of a prototype home generator.
The home generators are intended to meet the needs of households in communities that are not connected to the electrical grid. They will feature a Ballard fuel cell, which, using an integrated fuel reformer, runs on methanol fuel.
South Africa is the leading platinum producer so utilising the metal in a new application could boost platinum demand and create jobs for the benefit of the economy.
Ballard said that once the development of a generator prototype which meets the commercial product requirements had been completed, the companies would undertake further field trials "potentially leading to the manufacture, distribution and support of a commercial product for the African market".