Materials.Business Weekly ⚙️
January 18, 2022
Quote of the week: “Ask of the steel, each strut and wire, …. What gave it force and power.” Joseph B. Strauss, Chief Engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA (1870-1938).
From The Editor's Corner
Is hydrogen the new decarbonizing energy vector?
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in nature, but most of it exists bonded to other elements, forming water and other compounds, which make hydrogen unavailable on its own. However, hydrogen has been there from the beginning of the universe, when the young space was dark, and the first stars appeared thanks to the primordial hydrogen gas becoming so dense that the first nuclear fusion reactions took place. Therefore, we can conclude that hydrogen has been helping the universe, and finally, the humankind to exist.
But how is this related to energy? Hydrogen has been involved in high-demanding energy processes, such as the beginning of the universe because it has the most energy per weight among all the elements in nature. Therefore, it is not difficult to understand why hydrogen will be useful in energy applications.
And how come we haven't heard of hydrogen until now? Because separating hydrogen from the other elements is costly and energy demanding. But now, we have been developing the required technology to separate and bond hydrogen to other fundamental element, the oxygen, to store and produce clean energy. We are using the basic reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, producing water to decarbonize the energy system due to its highly exothermic nature.
Hence, the next question is: why do we need to decarbonize the energy system? Because most of our energy system is based on hydrocarbon, non-renewable fuels, responsible for the sadly famous global warming. This is caused by the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, threatening our existence in the planet and destroying the ecosystems of millions of other species.
Consequently, hydrogen, which has a lot of energy and can store this energy without releasing greenhouse gases, is now presented as a decarbonizing energy vector. This is happening when renewable energy, such as solar, wind and hydropower, is used to produce hydrogen from water in pieces of equipment named electrolyzes. Then, hydrogen can be stored and transported when the energy is further needed. At that moment, energy can be extracted from hydrogen, reversing the initial reaction, obtaining energy in fuel cells. In these devices, hydrogen and oxygen react to produce water, electricity, and heat. This carbon-free cycle, in which the hydrogen involved is called green-hydrogen, can be as efficient and reliable as electrolyzes and fuel cells are. This technology rapidly grows, allowing hydrogen to become a main actor in the worldwide energy system.
Therefore, the implementation of the H2 economy is an international commitment that dates back several decades. The most advanced countries in this career, such as Germany, Australia, and Chile, have implemented, among others, the following strategies to make this decarbonization option viable: (i) Policies for the gradual elimination of dependence on coal. (ii) Deployment of renewable energy production. (iii) Agendas for international cooperation in the renewable energy market. (iv) Development of adequate infrastructure for the energy transition. (v) Incentives for research and development of these new technologies on an industrial scale. (vi) Tax exemption. (vii) Promotion of communication strategies between the sectors involved. And (viii) generation of policies associated with the implementation of alternative fuels. These national hydrogen strategies have allowed regions such as Europe anticipated to have a significant market share in the global market. The growth of the region is being primarily driven by the presence of green hydrogen projects. Asia-Pacific is estimated to have considerable growth in the global market during the forecast period. The presence of cohesive government initiatives is likely to drive the growth of the regional market.
Another important factor to this development is that carbon-free renewable energies such as solar and wind are becoming cheaper and spreading around the world. However, they are intermittent and depend on natural elements such as sunlight and wind. That is why green hydrogen can overcome this intermittency, becoming a reliable energy vector. But, as with any new technology, this option has challenges to overcome, many of them related to material science.
Materials are involved in the electrolyzes and fuel cells, where hydrogen is obtained and used to produce energy, respectively. These electrolytic devices are comparable because the same reaction is occurring but in the reverse direction. They have anodes, cathodes, and membranes covered with precious and non-precious metals and polymeric materials that need to improve their durability and efficiency to reduce the technology cost. Also, materials are involved in hydrogen transport, an important factor of the hydrogen value chain. Hydrogen is small and highly reactive, so its transport is a challenge regarding the durability of pipes, the process safety, and, of course, the cost. Furthermore, hydrogen transport in solids is an incipient research line that can give interesting results in the middle term to overwhelm the challenges when transporting hydrogen.
The main applications envisioned to green hydrogen use are related to transport, which is a sector highly demanding in carbon-based fuels and therefore responsible for a large amount of greenhouse emissions worldwide. It is expected that hydrogen can be the new fuel to power small and large passenger vehicles, cargo vehicles, trains, airplanes, and ships. Also, hydrogen will be used to power and heat houses and buildings and heat many industrial processes.
Then, we have learned that green hydrogen is a high-energy density, carbon-free vector which can be produced from water powered by cheap renewable energy. The massification of this interesting application will be possible thanks to the soon-expected improvement of the electrolytic technology associated with the water reaction and the overcoming of the restrictions associated with the transport and storage of hydrogen. All these technologies rely on the development of a large spectrum of novel materials that make them affordable, dependable, and clean. This will be the paradigm that will drive the way we move and live.
Remember: Protection of materials and equipment is a profitable business!
Prof. Martha Cobo
Faculty of Engineering
Universidad de La Sabana
Bogotá – Colombia
Materials Biz News
A call for further innovation about materials in the Circular Economy
UpLink is an open innovation platform of the World Economic Forum in partnership with Salesforce and Deloitte, devoted to supporting challenges concerning the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Nowadays, Uplink, in collaboration with the Global Plastic Action Partnership and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs of Canada, is launching the Global Plastic Innovation Network. This is an initiative promoting innovations around plastic pollution tackling around the world. Then, the Network has started with a call to support solutions in five areas: Waste prevention, materials & product design, waste management & recovery, ecosystem data & transparency, and engaging society. The deadline for proposals is Friday, March 18 of 2022, and winners will be announced in early May 2022.
Canadian Government recognize the importance of corrosion and protection
Great news for Corrosionists! The Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry announced the launching of the New Frontiers in Research Fund, which awards seven research teams dealing with challenging science problems over the next six years. Currently, the Canadian coatings industry has a national economic impact of USD $24.700 million per year and employs 211.000 people. Therefore, one of the approved projects will be looking to put the country at the forefront of the sector worldwide. It is a project that will be funded with USD $19.13 million, and its purpose will be concerned with the development of new approaches to corrosion protection by coatings. The Corrosionists team will be led by our colleague Cathleen Crudden from Queen’s University. Colleagues Yolanda Hedberg, Paul Ragogna, and Jamie Noël, from Western University, will be co-researchers. Furthermore, co-principal researchers from other four universities will be participating. International collaboration includes researchers from the USA, Finland, Japan, and France. The Triple Helix scheme will be fulfilled with the partnership of Canadian and other companies from abroad such as 3M, Solvay, National Research Council Automotive and Surface Transportation Research Centre, Hydro Quebec, Ocean Networks Canada, Jernkontoret, The Nickel Institute, Intel Corporation, and Tokyo Electron Limited.
Better control of SMR foundry processes towards more sustainable materials and more competitive metallurgical entrepreneurships
Professor Björn Glaser from the KTH University, Stockholm, and Herbert Köchner from Geschäftsführer ASenSo GmbH in Pulheim, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany have led a research project funded by VINOVA, the Swedish Innovation Agency. The project’s main goal was to better develop a vision assistance system to control the process in small and medium foundries. As a result, the real-time visualization system is an intelligent and lower-cost alternative tool assisting operators in optimizing the handling of the melted bath of metals.
Networking & Knowledge Exchange
Learning from the bests
Virtual. From the Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, Professor Arjan Mol is the next invited speaker for the second Corrozoom season’s second webinar. Research areas of Arjan are (i) local electrochemical analysis of corrosion mechanisms, (ii) surface treatment and interfacial bonding of organic coatings on metal (oxide) surfaces, and (iii) multifunctional and eco-friendly corrosion inhibitors and evaluation of active protective and self-healing coatings, and currently he is editor-in-chief of the Corrosion Science journal. The presentation will be related to in-situ and nanoscopic corrosion studies of aluminum alloys using liquid-phase transmission electron microscopy.
Date: Wednesday, January 19, 2022.
Time: 08:00 EST (GMT - 5).
Update on high-temperature plants management
Virtual. In Cambridge, U.K., TWI, The Welding Institute will host a webinar about welding and repair of high-temperature plants. An event of interest for engineers and other professionals involved with manufacturing, maintenance, and repair in the power generation and other high-temperature process plant industries. Invited speakers are experts from the industry and the TWI. Subjects to be considered include electro-slag cladding, challenges in developing consumables for creep resistant-steels, orbital welding of high-temperature pipework, advances in the additive manufacture of high-temperature materials, and the research carried out at the Electrical Power Research Institute into the post-weld heat treatment of Cr-Mo Grade P91 pipe steel.
Dates: Thursday, February 24, 2022
Time: 13:30 - 16:30 BST (GMT + 0)
Electrochemical tools remain essential for advancement in anti-corrosive coatings
In-person. The 12th International Workshop on Application of Electrochemical Techniques to Organic Coatings will be celebrated under the auspice of the European Federation of Corrosion. Some of the subjects to be considered are electrochemical studies of organic coatings, hybrid (i/o) sol-gel and composite coatings, surface conversion layers, smart organic layers, corrosion inhibitors, degradation sensing, and modeling.
Venue: Cavalese - Val di Fiemme, Trento, Italy.
Dates: Tuesday to Friday, March 29 to April 01, 2022.
Deadline for low-fare registration: Thursday, February 10, 2022.
January 18th Calculation methods for existing reinforced concrete structures and infrastructures are subject to corrosion degradation. (Link)
February 16th Tech Day 2022: Technologies of transformation - Patenting in an era of global challenges and opportunities. (Link)
March 06th AMPP Annual conference and expo. (Link)
May 29th The Electrochemical Society (ECS) 241st Meeting. (Link)
August 28th Digital innovations for improving safety in chemical plants. (Link)
August 28th EUROCORR 2022. (Link)
2021 Corrosion science symposium and advances in corrosion protection by organic coatings (Link)
Corrosion under insulation - Level 1. (Link)