JOHANNESBURG, April 5 South Africa is forging ahead with hydrogen and fuel cell technology as it opens its first hydrogen refuelling station at East Rand, about 30 kilometres east of here.

The project is a collaboration between the Science and Technology Department, miner Impala Platinum holdings Limited, and Hydrogen South Africa, a project of the University of the Western Cape.

It is another endeavour to make the country’s carbon footprint smaller, said Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor at the opening of the refuelling station on Sunday.

A fuel cell converts chemical energy into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidising agent. Fuel cells require fuel and oxygen/air to sustain the chemical reaction (unlike a battery).

They have an anode, a cathode and an electrolyte that allows charges to move between the two sides of the cell and electrons flow from the anode to the cathode through an external circuit, producing a DC current.

Pandor added: “South Africa has started to make a number of bold moves that could well see it leapfrog into the leading countries in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies installations in the short to medium term.”