In September 2008, I had talked about how South Africa had started pushing their native mined platinum for fuel cells. South Africa currently produces roughly 80-percent of the world’s platinum resources.
A month ago I had talked about how South Africa had dropped the ball in regard to introducing the world to hydrogen fuel cells in that country during the World Cup 2010 event. This would have been the perfect high profile venue to promote South Africa’s intention of capturing 25-percent of the fuel cell platinum market by the year 2020.
After this opportunity has passed, a new corporation has formed called Clean Energy Incorporated that will take advantaged of South Africa’s vast platinum mining resources and develop a market for fuel cells within that country. At first the corporation will concentrate on the stationary fuel cell marketplace.
It’s not much of a stretch, however, to see that South African platinum may end up in fuel cell vehicles as well. While it’s true that scientists, researchers and engineers are working feverishly to reduce or eliminate platinum in fuel cells, using cheaper alternatives it is also true that unless there is a significant breakthrough, platinum will still be used for years to come in some types of fuel cells.
This could be a case of “too little, too late” for South Africa in the platinum for fuel cells market or it could be a case of “just in time”. The future will only tell how this plays out in the quickly emerging field of hydrogen fuel cells.