Researchers are looking at South Africa as the ideal place of production of clean hydrogen that may one day be transported and traded in place of oil. The country poses ideal for the proposal due to the amount of sunlight it receives, its prime winds, availability of land, and natural occurrence of the catalyst platinum.
Liquid organic hydrogen carrier, also known as LOHC, from Hydrogenious Technologies, is the primary reason for the possibility of handling and storage of hydrogen in a way we do oil at present. Because of this technology, hydrogen can be transported using oil tankers and road tankers; and it can also be stored using underground tanks.
From the manufacturing point of view, hydrogen cannot be produced in aggregate form. So it needs to be produced from natural gas, coal, or water. What they call 'green hydrogen' may be produced by separating hydrogen from water through the process of electrolysis. The ideal method of production of hydrogen as it has zero greenhouse gas production is through electrolyser processing powered by solar or wind energy and catalyzed by platinum. The use of LOHC would require platinum group metals, or PGMs, which puts South Africa ahead in selecting where to produce the LOHC.
Daniel Teichmann, Hydrogenious Technologies LOHC founder and CEO highlighted the potential of hydrogen. "In my eyes, hydrogen's most important contribution to a future energy system will be that it makes renewable energy transportable and tradable on a global scale," said Teichmann according to Mining Weekly Online. However, Teichmann stresses how much support they need from the government in terms of funding. "We need government funding for research and development and for industrial-scale projects that demonstrate the technical as well as commercial feasibility of hydrogen use," he stated. "In addition, the industry worldwide has to contribute its fair share and make an even stronger commitment to hydrogen."
In this line, Hydrogen South Africa, or HySA, a branch of the Department of Science and Innovation, have been striding through research and development for the utilization of hydrogen. They have been working on local skills for the hydrogen economy. In parallel, the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition has been working on special economic zones for local manufacturing.