Hydrogen fuel cell brings power to a rural school

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At the cutting edge of science, technology and innovation, a rural school in Ventersdorp will get the chance to utilise hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Pupils at Poelano Secondary School will not only experience the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell technology (HFCT) first-hand, but are also learning about the technology itself.

Fuel cells produce electricity through a chemical reaction using hydrogen as the basic fuel component. Platinum catalysts are involved in the system along with solar photovoltaic panels which assist in converting energy from the sun into electricity. The only major potential drawback the system has is its need for water.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) thankfully thought ahead and installed a borehole system in the drought-prone region to ensure the smooth running of the project. This also effectively provides the school with a reliable water supply.

The Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, launched the R10 million renewable energy system on Friday 13 April 2018. The HFCT system was installed last month at the school and enables the 486 pupils to have access to low-cost, off the grid, primary clean energy for their ICT and lighting needs. The system provides a total of 2,5 kW of energy and is a part of the larger Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Programme.

HySA is a DST initiative promoting the use of local platinum group metal (PGM) resources to create knowledge and skills as well as enable the development of high-value commercial activities in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

Grade 12 learners, Tshegofatso Motaung and Mantshonyane Keleabetswe, welcomed the technology, as it ensured that the school always had power.

Mantshonyane thanked the DST for the project.

“I have learned that science and technology can help bring innovation to communities and this project has made life easier for all of us,”

The Minister appealed to parents to protect the infrastructure that government had brought into the community for their children’s benefit.


[Image Credit – Department of Science and Technology]

Sahil Lala

Sahil Lala

Sahil is a tech and gaming enthusiast that's been a writer, reviewer, advisor and editor at multiple publications