Home » South Africa’s Hydrox Holdings Leads Green Hydrogen Innovation

South Africa’s Hydrox Holdings Leads Green Hydrogen Innovation

by Adenike Adeodun

Hydrox Holdings’ CEO, Corrie de Jager, recently highlighted the significant role on-site green hydrogen production could play in resolving the global energy crisis. This innovative approach could bypass the extensive electrical distribution networks required over large distances. De Jager emphasizes the transformative power of reliable energy access, particularly for Africa, as reported by Engineering News & Mining Weekly.

Hydrox, a South African company, has developed a unique technology known as Divergent Electrode Flow Through (DEFT™). This innovation, which has won the National Science and Technology Forum Award for Innovation in South Africa and acclaim at Monaco’s inaugural hydrogen forum, functions without membranes at higher temperatures. This feature substantially improves electrical efficiencies in hydrogen production.

According to the African Hydrogen Partnership, over 600 million people in Africa lack electricity access. De Jager believes that replacing conventional fuels like paraffin and diesel with methanol and hydrogen could dramatically change lives. However, he points out a significant gap between the ambitious plans for green hydrogen development in South Africa and their actual implementation. He notes the difficulty in accessing funding for hydrogen-related projects, a situation that stifles technology growth and skill retention in South Africa.

Hydrox’s membraneless DEFT technology has the potential to reduce hydrogen production costs by up to 30%. This technology caught global attention when Hydrox outperformed 15 international competitors to win a prestigious award in Monaco. The South African technology was recognized for its potential applications in marine settings, attracting interest from European countries keen on transitioning to green hydrogen.

De Jager expresses both enthusiasm and practical concerns about South Africa’s capacity to compete in the global green hydrogen market. He notes significant investments in green hydrogen by countries like Australia and acknowledges the developing hydrogen zones in North African countries, all of which offer stiff competition to South Africa. Additionally, German financial support bolsters Namibia’s existing infrastructure, and Spain is advancing its green hydrogen industries, leveraging its solar and wind resources.

A German study suggests South Africa needs to enhance its competitiveness in this market. Hydrox will present its latest innovations in Monaco soon, focusing on solutions for large-scale energy storage with high energy efficiencies. The DEFT technology, which operates without a membrane, allows for higher temperature production and is compatible with seawater and treated acid mine water.

Standard electrolysers typically use a heat exchanger system to regulate temperature. DEFT technology, however, harnesses this excess heat to improve system efficiencies, reducing operational costs and hydrogen prices. Its compatibility with fluctuating currents makes it ideal for renewable energy sources.

One of Hydrox’s early goals, as reported by Engineering News & Mining Weekly, was to produce hydrogen at a cost competitive with petrol. The company envisioned making hydrogen widely accessible using a single-pump model similar to those once used by South African fuel stations.

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