International Hydrogen Conference Opens at UTech

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica has joined the international community in a clear thrust towards the advancement of hydrogen as a sustainable energy source for the future.
  • On Tuesday (November 3), the University of Technology (UTech), with the support of the European Union (EU) Caribbean and Pacific Research Programme for Sustainable Development, hosted day one of the first ever conference in the Caribbean region on the use of hydrogen as a fuel.
  • The two-day International Hydrogen Conference, themed: ‘The Hydrogen Economy: A Sustainable Energy Diversification Option for the Caribbean’, culminated out of a three-year EU-funded research project by UTech’s Faculty of Engineering and Computing Energy Unit Research Team (CSEII), on the production of hydrogen as a fuel for domestic cooking.

Jamaica has joined the international community in a clear thrust towards the advancement of hydrogen as a sustainable energy source for the future.                                                                                       On Tuesday (November 3), the University of Technology (UTech), with the support of the European Union (EU) Caribbean and Pacific Research Programme for Sustainable Development, hosted day one of the first ever conference in the Caribbean region on the use of hydrogen as a fuel.

The two-day International Hydrogen Conference, themed: ‘The Hydrogen Economy: A Sustainable Energy Diversification Option for the Caribbean’, culminated out of a three-year EU-funded research project by UTech’s Faculty of Engineering and Computing Energy Unit Research Team (CSEII), on the production of hydrogen as a fuel for domestic cooking.

The $59 million project, launched in 2012, also highlighted the varied use of hydrogen technologies and examined the applications which have relevance to the Caribbean.

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, in his remarks during the opening ceremony, commended UTech for hosting the conference, which included participants from Europe, North America and the Caribbean.

“We now have pride of place among the scientists mostly from developed countries, with well-resourced research facilities and long traditions of scientific inventions,” he said.

Mr. Paulwell noted that the Government’s National Energy Policy emphasizes the diversification of energy sources, the facilitation of investments in renewables and the promotion and implementation of energy efficiency and conservation measures.

“This motivation is reinforced by the prohibitive cost of imported oil and its deleterious impact on the environment…It is within this context that the potential of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source, must be recognised and appreciated,” he said.

The Minister explained that hydrogen, as an environmentally-friendly fuel, provides the opportunity for lower emissions of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants, as well as for energy independence in a sustainable manner and the cost-effective exploitation of other alternative fuels.

Stored hydrogen can be used onsite or transported to power fuel cells and produce electricity for vehicular transportation, industrial uses or can be put back into the existing energy grid.

As part of the project, the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining collaborated with UTech to carry out a cost-benefit analysis for the use of hydrogen for domestic cooking, as well as examined the legislation required to use hydrogen in homes and for other applications and electricity generation.

The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) also supported the project by addressing the safety and regulatory aspects related to the use of hydrogen. United Kingdom-based Brunel University conducted the technical research in its laboratories. The University of the West Indies was also involved in the project.

Using a solar-powered technology, known as Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) Electrolysers, for the project, scientists separated water atoms into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen part is then burned to form pure hydrogen.

Acting UTech President, Professor Colin Gyles, said the project is another milestone in strengthening the institution’s push towards developing and pioneering innovation for renewable energy. He said the research output is seen as a direct response to the target set by the National Energy Policy to increase the percentage of renewable energy by some 30 per cent by the year 2030.

“UTech seeks to align its operations with the national development priorities in accordance with Vision 2030…and to support whatever will make the country continue to be a beacon for development,” he said.

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