Belgium and Australia have laid the foundation for a promising collaboration. Bart Vermang, a distinguished professor in the field of solar cell technology at UHasselt and imec, key partners within the EnergyVille initiative, has inked a significant cooperation agreement with the renowned Australian University of New South Wales (UNSW).
The core focus of this groundbreaking collaboration revolves around the production of green hydrogen using the boundless potential of solar energy. Moreover, the partnership aims to address one of the most pressing issues of our era – the capture and reuse of CO2 emissions in industrial processes.
The urgency of this mission cannot be overstated, as Professor Vermang highlights, “Green hydrogen is crucial if we want to make the energy transition to sustainable renewable energy a success.” Traditional electricity supply methods often fall short when it comes to meeting the substantial energy demands of certain industries, especially in sectors such as chemistry.
The EnergyVille research consortium, recognized for its pioneering work in sustainable energy solutions, has dedicated substantial efforts to the production of green hydrogen through solar energy utilization. The process primarily involves the use of solar cells to split water into hydrogen, which then acts as an efficient and versatile energy carrier.
Green hydrogen opens new doors for various industries, granting them the capacity to undertake a multitude of energy-intensive processes that electricity alone cannot support. While substantial advancements have been made in the production and storage of green hydrogen, there remain formidable challenges to overcome before it can be deployed on a large scale.
This is where the collaborative spirit with UNSW, an Australian university celebrated for its dedication to renewable energy research and solar technology, comes into play. UNSW recently secured over €29 million in research funding from the Australian Government, further underlining its commitment to renewable energy projects. Notably, they were honored with the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, a testament to their groundbreaking contributions in the field.
In addition to their shared green hydrogen endeavors, both research groups are poised to tackle another critical aspect of sustainability – the reduction of CO2 emissions in industry. Their approach involves the conversion of captured CO2, facilitated by hydrogen, into other fuels like methanol or ammonia. These derivative fuels can subsequently find utility within industries, thus mitigating their carbon footprint.
The collaboration extends beyond research to include a crucial educational dimension. Students, PhD researchers, and educators from UHasselt and UNSW will engage in productive exchanges, fostering a vibrant international academic community dedicated to shaping the future of renewable energy and sustainability.
As we stand on the precipice of a global energy transition, partnerships like the one between Belgium and Australia are beacons of hope, illuminating the path towards a cleaner and more sustainable future. Green hydrogen and efficient carbon capture hold the potential to revolutionize industries and pave the way for a world less dependent on fossil fuels.