Six years ago, in the Paris Agreement
, the world pledged not to exceed a global temperature increase of 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. However, emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), continued to grow: they are doing so at a rate that, according to models, will lead us to exceed baseline values by more than 3°C.
This dark horizon is largely due to our dependence on fossil fuels, currently the cheapest form of electricity production essential for development.
Among others, hydrogen (H2) emerges today as a more than promising alternative, because depending on how it is produced when burned, it emits only water. Gray hydrogen' is made from fossil fuels such as oil and coal. Blue' is made in the same way, but then the CO2 produced in the process is captured, safely stored or used in industry.
Using renewable energies (such as wind or solar), clean, zero-carbon hydrogen can be obtained. This is so-called "green hydrogen," which many consider to be the energy of the future. However, there is a bumpy road ahead to make it a reality.
With the idea of analyzing this scenario and updating the state of the technology, the Eighth Symposium on Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Advanced Batteries (HYCELTEC 2022) and the first face-to-face meeting of the Ibero-American Hydrogen Network will be held in Argentina from July 10 to 14.
Argentina is already the fifth country in Latin America in wind energy
"This is a meeting that began to be held in Spain and Portugal every two years in the first decade of this century," says Horacio Corti, CNEA researcher and full-time professor at the Faculty of Exact Sciences of the UBA, who has been working for 20 years on issues related to fuel cells and lithium-air batteries. In the last one, which was in Barcelona, in 2019, I proposed to do it in Buenos Aires. They accepted and it should have been last year, but the pandemic prevented it and we decided to move it to this year. It is an academic meeting, with scientific presentations, but also applied work. For example, there will be many papers on hydrogen and fuel cells (similar to batteries, but which do not run out and do not need to be recharged as long as they are supplied with the fuel they use) applied to electromobility, both in land, air and sea vehicles".
A geologist from Brazil will make a presentation on hydrogen storage in depleted (i.e., empty) reservoirs. The main projects underway in the country will be presented, and industry representatives interested in "greening" processes in the steel industry, fertilizer production and refineries will also attend.
Economy 2.0 Back
the 1970s, South African chemist John Bockris, then a professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, conceived the idea of a "hydrogen economy" in which renewable energy would be stored in H2 obtained from water through electrolysis, and then converted into electricity in on-site fuel cells to meet the needs of factories and homes
The United States and Japan took the lead in developing this technology. The US Department of Energy set a target of 1-1-1 (one kg of hydrogen to one dollar in a decade, https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-shot-summit) by 2030, and last year the UK government also launched its hydrogen strategy with a roadmap for hydrogen to power everything from transportation to production to domestic heating by the same date. Currently, hydrogen produced by electrolysis costs between four and five dollars, and that produced from natural gas is between one and a half and two dollars per kilogram.
We are facing an explosion of research in this area," says chemist Luis Baraldo, vice-dean of the Faculty of Exact Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires. Honestly, I have never seen anything like this, such a large number of calls and requests from students to work in these fields. All the time there are colleagues who are turning to the subject".
To obtain hydrogen from water (where H2 atoms are bonded with oxygen atoms), electrical energy is required. Green hydrogen is produced by replacing the energy generated with traditional fossil fuels with renewable sources. Current technologies use ultrapure fresh water, which, however, is scarce (