Ballard and Anglo American Platinum Developing Fuel Cell Home Generator For African Market

November 10, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

Ballard Power Systems has announced successful completion of the first phase of work, and significant progress on the second phase, with Anglo American Platinum Limited under a Product Development Agreement related to fuel cell-powered electric generators for the African rural home market.

Under the agreement, Anglo American Platinum has committed to fund development and testing of the planned home generator product, which will be capable of providing primary power to homes in remote African communities that are without access to the electrical grid. Work to date has included a market feasibility study, testing of a proof-of-concept system based on existing technology from Ballard and Dantherm Power, Ballard's backup power company, and initial work on a prototype system.

Andrew Hinkly, Executive Head - Commercial for Anglo American Platinum said, "This is a key initiative, as part of our commitment to beneficiation in South Africa. It will create jobs, deliver clean energy to parts of Africa that go without power today, and of course promote a product that uses platinum. So, we are delighted to be working with a fuel cell market leader in Ballard."

The home generator product is being developed as a means of addressing the many African households in rural communities that are currently unable to economically access the grid as a result of distance or terrain. The home generator will run on readily available methanol fuel, utilizing an integrated fuel reformer. Ballard is providing fuel reformer and fuel cell stack technology and Dantherm Power will provide the remaining system components needed for the finished product.

John Sheridan, President and CEO of Ballard Power Systems said, "We are excited by the progress to date under our agreement with Anglo American Platinum. The agreement is clear evidence of their commitment to fuel cells and will enable the development of an integrated small-scale stationary power system, which could have a transformational impact in South Africa and beyond."

Once Ballard has completed development of a prototype system meeting commercial product requirements, the companies will undertake further field trials, potentially leading to the manufacture, distribution and support of a commercial product for the African market. The low-cost fuel reformer being developed for the home generator will also represent an important evolutionary step for the methanol fuel cell products recently acquired by Ballard from IdaTech.