Chris Griffith, CEO of Anglo American Platinum, recently highlighted the need for on-going collaboration across the industry, with customers and non-traditional partners to develop uses for PGMs.

In a speech delivered at Platinum Week in London early this week, Griffith highlighted the potential of fuel cells as a focus for such collaboration in order for PGMs to establish its place in the vehicle fleet of the future and described it as ‘our next big market shift.’

The most promising application for fuel cells is Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). FCEVs would allow the platinum industry to build its future in a truly sustainable way through zero tailpipe emissions and the use of an endless fuel source, hydrogen.

‘Within Europe’, he said ‘estimates show that an auto industry dominated by batteries reduces platinum demand to only 2.5 Moz in 2050. But if fuel cell cars dominate the electric vehicle segment in Europe, platinum demand is estimated to be 6.6 Moz in 2050.’

Griffith highlighted Hyundai as an example of fuel cells’ potential for PGMs.  Hyundai aims to produce 1 000 vehicles using the ix35 Fuel Cell in the UK by the end of 2015 and forecasts that there will as many as 65 Hydrogen stations by 2015, 300 stations by 2025 and 1 150 by 2030. In the UK, Hyundai expect there will be 10 000 fuel cell vehicles by 2020 rising to more than 1.6 million by 2030.

Further, Toyota announced last week that they are launching an equity bond with the intention of using funds raised (some $4.2billion) to invest in fuel cell technology, and Element Energy, a dynamic energy consultancy specialising in the intelligent analysis of low-carbon energy, forecast that fuel cell vehicles will be on course to take as much as 50% of the new car market by 2050, if the infrastructure is there.

Griffith talked about an ‘infrastructure war’ with other alternative fuel technologies and stressed this as a key area for collaboration to assure the adoption of fuel cell technology. “We at Anglo American Platinum are collaborating with the likes of Johnson Matthey; Altergy; Hydrogenius and Ballard to name a few,” he said.

“But to really accelerate adoption of fuel cell technology, we need something way beyond an Anglo American Platinum shift, beyond a mining shift, and beyond a PGM shift. We need to collaborate more across our industry and also with other industries, whether its BP or Shell in Oil and Gas, car companies such as Toyota and Hyundai, retailers and governments. We need to collaborate to drive this industry transforming technology.”