UBU to build a green hydrogen research center

As the world decarbonizes in order to stop depending on fossil fuels, there is a growing commitment to green hydrogen as a source of clean energy storage.

The University of Burgos has been engaged in this field of research for eight years, but it now wants to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the arrival of thousands of euros in European grants to develop in this field through a variety of current and future projects.

The hydraulic studies department of one of the Escuela Politécnica Superior de la Milanera’s dependencies will house the scientific center. This department has enough room to gradually extend the laboratory by considering a modular design. José Miguel Garcia, the vice-rector for research, notes that the varied ventilation zones already in place—both those below two meters and those placed in height—have been utilized. These zones often have the highest construction costs. Currently, it will take up more than 100 square meters, and the cost of the civil works is 15,000 euros.

This sum has nothing to do with the equipment’s economic cost. In this way, the academic institution was successful in persuading the Board to acquire cutting-edge equipment worth 500,000 euros through the EU. In December, it will be the first to arrive, starting the laboratory. One of the most knowledgeable experts in this field, Professor Andrés Dáz, head of the Polytechnic’s Structural Integrity group, explains that this provision will enable further research into the materials’ susceptibility to damage when exposed to hydrogen, an element that is extremely challenging to store and transport.

According to Daz, who adds that the equipment will make it possible to assess the resistance of a metal or plastic components at high temperatures, “it has to be at extremely high pressure so that it occupies an acceptable space and the materials degrade a lot, creating failures and breakages.” His colleague Isidoro Iván Cuesta uses the ability to determine whether the existing pipelines’ conduction, where natural gas is already mixed with hydrogen, can be used going forward or if they need to be replaced, as example of this work.

The academic manager emphasizes the significance of progressing in its transportation for later consumption, along with other aspects ranging from its production through renewable energies, primarily solar and wind, through a water electrolysis process, to the generation of products derivatives such as methane and ammonia, whose demand is “very high” in the industry, without carbon dioxide (CO2) being emitted in either case.

Because of this, the Department of Organic Chemistry, a division of the Faculty of Sciences, also takes part in this cross-disciplinary research. According to Marta Martnez, the goal of the analysis is to conduct “tests with catalysts for the conversion of the chemical element into methane or ammonia,” while another goal of the project is to store any excess clean energy that is now being wasted. In order to generate electricity, fossil fuels must always be consumed, according to Alejandro Merino.

The circle is completed by the involvement of the UBU Scientific and Technological Park, whose director, Roberto Quesada, describes his role as “providing technical support” in the management of the facilities. He also adds that this is an open action to not only local researchers but also to other universities, technology centers, or businesses that need tests to be conducted.

The laboratory will bring together researchers from up to four green hydrogen research projects with a combined budget of more than 1.3 million. The vice-rector emphasizes, “We want to grow the equipment and the number of groups,” and he makes clear the University’s steadfast commitment to participate in a field that is “expanding at a national and worldwide level, especially in Europe.”

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