NWU, Potchefstroom Campus, News: NWU looks at hydrogen as an alternative source of energy

NWU looks at hydrogen as an alternative source of energy

The North-West University, in collaboration with the SCSR, has been designated as one of three Centres of Competence in the country doing research on hydrogen as a source of energy.

Dmitri Bessarabov 255

Dr Dmitri Bessarabov.

  In 2008, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) registered the trademark Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) to research and develop hydrogen as a safe source of energy. Hydrogen is an energy carrier and is applied to store and distribute energy and can be compounded with the use of fuel cell technologies to produce electricity.
  Hydrogen economy currently enjoys serious consideration in South Africa to convert safe, clean and reliable alternative sources of energy into fossil fuels. Another driving force is that 75 per cent of the world’s platinum reserves are found in South Africa, with platinum group metals (PGMs) which are the key catalytic materials in fuel cells.
  Three Centres of Competence, namely HySA Systems, HySA Catalysis and HySA Infrastructure, have been established by the DST to implement the HySA strategy and each of the centres have been charged with unique responsibilities directed at producing 25 per cent of the world’s catalyst demand of quality platinum group metals by 2020.
  The centre at the NWU, HySA Infrastructure CC, will research hydrogen generation, storage and distribution in collaboration with the CSIR.
  The Director of HySA Infrastructure CC, Dr Dmitri Bessarabov, was recruited for the position from Canada. He obtained his Master’s degree in Chemistry in Moscow and in 1996 his doctoral degree at the University of Stellenbosch before leaving for Canada to do research on, amongst others, fuel cells, hydrogen energy and applied chemistry. He will be working along with the leading role players at the NWU Puk, Prof Henning Krieg and Dr Cobus Kriek of the Focus Area for Chemical Resource Beneficiation and Mr Frikkie van der Merwe of Engineering.
  The research entails the intensive research, initially in the chemical field, which will later, with the scaling up thereof, will transfer to Engineering.
  Possible products the three centres will endeavour for as objectives are portable sources of power (that are cleaner and less noisy that power generators), combined heat and power sources (for heating buildings and industries) and possibly also for fuel cell driven vehicles.


 Published by Kiewiet Scheppel on 22 September 2010.