What’s our idea? What do we offer?
“There was an explosion – a huge energy drain:
Only unfounded conclusions can be drawn about the cause of the explosion.
One of the simplest conclusions is that during the formation of the first atom in a void under imbalance conditions, a collision of positive and negative charges occurred, which led to an explosion.
And most likely, the kinetic energy accumulated in the first second of the explosion was much less than after explosion. This process generated tremendous energy.
To this day, the universe is still expanding, and this will continue until the free kinetic energy in space completely disappears.”
Hypotheses from Armen Grigoryan
The world is experiencing its steepest ever-observed growth of energy consumption and population. These two factors coupled with progressively growing urbanization rates at very high levels have threatened the planet and life on it. This has motivated the vision of a sustainable society capable of implementing the creative and innovative concept of a circular restorative economy. Such a vision can be implemented only by transitioning to a new energy era in which hydrogen and renewable energies play a main role. Hydrogen energy is about utilizing hydrogen and hydrogen-containing compounds to generate and supply energy for all practical uses with high-energy efficiency, overwhelming environmental and social benefits, and economic competitiveness. The implementation of hydrogen energy for widespread utilization requires the use of currently available technologies that resulted from intense long-lasting scientific developments involving fuel cells, hydrogen production methods, selection of specific application options, safety and regulations, policies and planning for early adoption, as well as market introduction.
The dawn of hydrogen energy, which brought the practical deployment of sustainable devices and mobility, called for the present text on science and engineering of hydrogen-based energy technologies. Its content was structured in such a way that both knowledgeable professionals in the area, as well as newcomers possessing a strong basis on engineering, energy, or sustainability, will be attracted and interested.
The general approach to hydrogen energy establishes a broad vision of technological possibilities and future prospects. It explores emerging technologies to show that additional efficiency gains and environmental benefits will be progressively achievable as conventional technologies are surpassed. Upon unveiling the occurrence of natural hydrogen on earth, once believed nonexistent, hydrogen energy was presented as sustainable and perennial.
Fuel cells are deeply discussed, with an emphasis on polymeric membrane electrolyte fuel cells and on solid oxide fuel cells and their technological variants, either to generate electrical energy or to consume it for hydrogen production, independently or reversibly.
Biomass is one of the major renewable sources for energy generation and acts as a natural medium for sunlight energy storage. Its enormous availability as residues and wastes (agricultural, industrial, domestic household, municipal) makes its energetic use very beneficial to society. Focus on the production of hydrogen from biomass through biological routes using fermentation processes, in special dark fermentation, is provided.
The progressive increase in the use of renewable energies, which represents the main future prospects of countries and regions for environmental and energy-security reasons, motivates and facilitates the large-scale production of green hydrogen by water electrolysis. Electrolyzer technologies and hydrogen storage methods are thoroughly analyzed and discussed.
Hydrogen utilization applications from the dawning of the hydrogen energy era to the present include transitional technologies, such as the use of hydrogen as fuel in turbines and internal combustion engines. However, the use of hydrogen to feed fuel cells will ubiquitously dominate engineering, mobile, and stationary applications. These options are explored and exemplified with emphasis on technological and engineering procedures.
New regulations, codes, and standards (RC&S) and the adaptation of existing codes are necessary to introduce such technologies into use by the society. This also requires thoroughly understanding and systematizing the roles of the different active regulating institutions as well as establishing and guaranteeing safety protocols. RC&S, metrology, and safety are defined and understood within the ample variety of official world and regional active actors.
Hydrogen may be made available in different world regions depending on local specificities. Also, early deployment of hydrogen energy technologies may be based on niche applications for a specific society. It results that identifying suitable sectors, actions, timing and actors is mandatory for planning and to create adequate policies. Roadmapping techniques were defined, exemplified and discussed as an important tool to make the necessary transition to the hydrogen energy era.
Most of hydrogen, effectively produced in large scale, has a captive use as a chemical product. To be traded as a world energy commodity and also in order to guarantee the market entrance of hydrogen-based technologies, alternative approaches to determining total cost of ownership must be adopted. This approach is explored by taking into consideration externalities associated with the use of conventional technologies that include hidden costs of environmental and societal damage.
I apologize for not being able to include so many other topics of interest, and I hope the selected content will fill the gap of scientific and technological information to understand and foster engineering applications of hydrogen-based energy technologies.
Rio de Janeiro
Brazil, June 2018
Paulo Emílio V. de Miranda