With electrolysers proving to be an efficient source of energy in the sugar industry, Tshwane-based specialised engineering company RTS Africa Engineering believes that the use of hydrogen in electrolysers is potentially the energy carrier of the future.
Electrolysis is the process of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrical current. By transforming electricity into hydrogen through water electrolysis, energy can be stored for later use.
RTS Africa Engineering, the sole agency for global hydrogen technology company NEL Hydrogen in sub-Saharan Africa, notes that NEL Hydrogen has been at the forefront of hydrogen production through water electrolysis since 1927.
Owing to this, NEL sales director Eric Dabe indicates that the electrolyser unit’s reliability remains unquestioned.
“Our hydrogen production plants have an extremely long life cycle of 40 years or more. A case in point is the electrolyser that we installed for a leading sugar producer back in 1983, which runs for 24 hours a day and is still fully operational.”
To date, the company has installed more than 500 electrolyser units around the world. More recently, installations have taken place in Kenya, Egypt, Algeria and Nigeria, as well as in South African outfits located in Saldanha Bay, in the Western Cape, and Sezela, in KwaZulu-Natal.
RTS Africa Engineering, featuring considerable in-house technical skills, was the first of NEL Hydrogen’s representatives to become a service agent.
“Service at a distance – in this case Norway – can be a challenge. I am pleased that NEL Hydrogen has entrusted us with local service and support. Our customers expect a 24-hour service and we have been able to fulfil that requirement,” says RTS Africa Engineering MD Ian Fraser.
Foreseeing potential for growth in the demand for hydrogen as an alternative fuel and as a form of storing energy, a group of investors acquired NEL Hydrogen in 2014. NEL has since also acquired Danish hydrogen refuelling stations manufacturer H2 Logic and plans on further developing the hydrogen refuelling station infrastructure in Norway and further afield.
“NEL Hydrogen has entered into a very exciting phase with two main drivers: hydrogen production through global electrolyser plant installation and a new focus on hydrogen refuelling stations through our acquisition of H2 Logic. We are committed to a future hydrogen society – which includes using hydrogen as a storage medium in integrated, renewable-energy systems – and providing the technology to make this possible,” says Dabe.
Fraser notes that hydrogen plants, based on water electroly- sis technology, have particular application in areas where there is no access to either natural gas or pipeline hydrogen. Since 2011, NEL Hydrogen has supplied over 50 MW of hydrogen plants world- wide.
“The NEL A electrolysers offer complete reliability and flexibility for the end-user and are a highly cost-effective solution to hydrogen generation. The fact that there is no need for maintenance shutdown adds to the low-cost benefits.
“NEL Hydrogen is a forward- thinking company and we are proud of our association with them. The technology has improved over the years, and there is ongoing research and development with the aim of providing the most efficient hydrogen production solutions possible,” concludes Fraser.