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    UCF, Mitsubishi heads join in high level forum on clean energy hydrogen


    September 8, 2022 - Kevin Spear, Orlando Sentinel

     

      Presidents of the University of Central Florida and a brand of the global giant Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan will join Thursday for a high-level forum at UCF on the use of hydrogen as a means to fight climate change.

      The leadoff speaker is a U.S. Department of Energy acting assistant secretary. One of the forum’s goals is to “engage and strengthen the Florida area as a hydrogen technology and innovation hub.”

      The world’s quest for a future of energy without fossil fuels that drive climate change has taken on hydrogen as a potent solution, including as a substitute fuel for power plants now burning natural gas. Many states are vying for Department of Energy funding for developing hydrogen technology and infrastructure.

      UCF President Alexander Cartwright will appear with Bill Newsom, president and chief executive officer of Mitsubishi Power Americas for a morning session.

      The company is headquartered in Lake Mary and has more than 2,300 workers in the fields of power generation, energy storage and digital solutions, and at a major turbine blade service center south of Orlando.

      Mitsubishi is pursuing storage of vast quantities of hydrogen in Utah in enormous caverns within salt formation, and is seeking to design power plants that run on hydrogen rather than natural gas.

      But hydrogen as a tool for fighting climate change is in an early development stage and increasingly seen as far from easy or perfect.

      The miniscule molecules of hydrogen gas are notoriously difficult to handle as demonstrated by the recently postponed launch of NASA’s Artemis moon rocket because of a leaky fueling line.

      Environmental groups are warning the hydrogen spilled into the atmosphere can trigger warming as much or more than carbon emissions.

      “Hydrogen could indeed be part of a clean energy transition,” states the Environmental Defense Fund. “But done wrong, it could be worse for the near-term climate than the fossil fuels it would replace.”

      Other speakers at the UCF forum are from Southern Co., Duke Energy, Universal Orlando, Siemens Energy and AirLiquide.

      UCF and Mitsubishi have had a longstanding partnership with students and government grants in evolving hydrogen research and expertise.

      The event is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the student union. Details for virtual participation are at cecs.ucf.edu/Decarbonization_Hydrogen_Forum/

      kspear@orlandosentinel.com

      ©2022 Orlando Sentinel. Visit orlandosentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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