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The drive to hydrogen fuels takes off again after 30 years

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Hydrogen fuel cell cars could one day challenge electric cars in the race for pollution-free roads but only if more stations are built to fuel them.
Hydrogen fuel cell cars could one day challenge electric cars in the race for pollution-free roads but only if more stations are built to fuel them.
Lee Jin-Man

It might take ten years before hydrogen fuel technology is cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels, according to Mark Cutifani, CEO of Anglo American. Speaking during the launch of the firm’s sustainability report – which will become a bi-annual event in future owing to increased investor attention on the matter – Cutifani said development efforts over the next two to three years will be “crucial”.

That’s the time frame given to a joint research effort between Anglo’s 80%-owned Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Umicore, a Belgian materials handling and recycling company. The parties are hoping to prove up chemistry that would enable hydrogen fuel to be transported to forecourts in tankers akin to the current delivery of petroleum.

Being able to refuel a fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) quickly and inexpensively is the key to adoption of the technology as a secondary fuel option (the primary usage of hydrogen being in industry). Currently, a refuelling point requires hydrogen to be electrolysed.

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