Cape Town 130227- University of the Western Cape has built a Hysta systems golf cart from scratch.Picture Cindy waxa.Professor Bruno Poller is the director of HySA systems. Reporter Neo/Argus

A team of scientists at the University of the Western Cape have developed the country's first hydrogen-powered golf cart - and the only emission you have to worry about is… water.

The HySA Systems Zero Emissions Vehicle took about 13 months to build and can reach speeds of about 50km/h.

Bruno Pollet, director of HySA Systems competence centre at UWC, said the main reason why they had decided to build a golf cart instead of a car was to ensure it was affordable for the local market.

Pollet said they were also looking into making hydrogen-powered scooters and eventually wanted to make cars.

He said the car ran on hydrogen fuel cells instead of the ones used in normal batteries, which contained chemicals instead of hydrogen.

“The fuel cell is like an engine that needs hydrogen to work.”

“Unlike diesel or petrol the only emission from the car is water, as a mixture of vapour and liquids, but there are no pollutants from the fuel cell.”

Pollet said if the hydrogen fuel source could be produced using renewable technologies such as solar or wind energy, the entire process - from production to driving - was totally green.

He said that using hydrogen was viable because it was freely available and car manufacturers throughout the world were looking for ways to produce hydrogen-powered cars.

Hydrogen was also attractive as a fuel source because it produced no emissions, which was desirable in places such as Europe where

governments charged car owners for emissions.


Mario Williams, key technology specialist at HySA, said 80 percent of the golf cart was made in South Africa with the help of students.

The only parts that were imported were the ones that were not yet available in South Africa.

He said another reason they had chosen to build a golf cart was because South Africa was about 30 years behind countries such as France, the UK, the US and China when it came to producing cars that did not run on petrol.

“South Africa entered the market too late,” he said, “but where we can be competitive is in making sure we use local resources, which would also create jobs.”

He said the golf cart was not only a first in the country but also on the continent and that the project had received funding from the department of science and technology. - Cape Argus