20th May 2019, By: Martin Creamer, Creamer media editor

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – A new manganese-containing material may contribute to platinum-using hydrogen fuel cells being driven down the cost curve.

The new material, made from manganese hydride, is being earmarked for use in molecular sieves that work with the fuel cells in hydrogen fuelled systems that generate electricity.

Science Daily quotes Professor David Antonelli, the physical chemistry chairperson at Lancaster University, as saying the use of manganese-based sieves may result in hydrogen fuel cell systems costing many times less than lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles.

As countries tighten emission standards that define the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of new vehicles sold, hydrogen fuel cells are coming into their own. CXLive reports that Chinese vehicle dealerships will no longer be allowed to sell vehicles that do not comply with the upcoming sixth emission standard in China, which is giving strong ongoing support to the development of hydrogen fuel projects.

Last week, Beijing Shouhang IHW Resources Saving Technology signed a cooperation agreement with the Datong local authority that gives the Shenzhen-listed company access to a $290-million hydrogen industry investment fund, tax support and low-interest loans. Envisaged are three hydrogen production plants and ten hydrogen refuelling stations.

Hydrogen Fuel News reports that international company Bosch is throwing its full weight behind hydrogen fuel cell technology, in partnership with Powercell Sweden, a manufacturer of  fuel cell stacks that convert the hydrogen into electricity. The technology developed by the two companies is earmarked for initial use in heavy-duty trucks and then cars.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars are electric vehicles that use hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity with the help of platinum. The byproduct is water and there is no exhaust emission. Hydrogen filling stations are needed to support fuel cell electric vehicles, which is why hydrogen infrastructure is being rolled out in many countries. In the US, for example, the state of California is targeting 1 000 hydrogen fuel stations by 2030 for its growing number of fuel cell electric vehicles that currently refuel at 39 hydrogen stations, with another 25 in the development phase.

Anglo American Platinum CEO Chris Griffith told last month’s Platinum Group Metals Industry Day of “very real and credible progress being made in the development of the hydrogen economy”, which is being benchmarked as the sole route to 100% carbon-free driving for cars, trucks, buses, trams, trains and ships, in a world that is legislating to end harmful vehicle emissions.

“From start to finish, not a single gram of carbon dioxide is emitted,” Anglo American executive head of PGMs market development Benny Oeyen assured Mining Weekly Online in a recent video interview.

What is more, hydrogen can store excess electricity for placement on power grids at times when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can travel 600 km to 700 km before needing to fill up in two to three minutes at filling stations.

Hydrogen, which is clean, is generated in abundance by the sun, with the oceans storing voided hydrogen that can be regenerated to active hydrogen.

Currently, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and Shanghai Automotive International Company Motor Corporation of China (SAIC) have hydrogen fuel cell cars on the market. SAIC, which is the joint venture partner of General Motors and Volkswagen, the two market leaders in China, has the Roewe 950 fuel cell car.

Many more vehicle manufacturers are also studying fuel cell electric vehicles, which dovetail perfectly with the world’s adoption of renewable energy to combat climate change.