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Brazil has conditions to lead the production of hydrogen from renewable sources.

Hydrogen is widely used in industry and agriculture and has great potential to power cars, buses and even planes. However, production requires a large amount of energy, usually obtained from fossil fuels.

For this reason, the so-called green hydrogen, as it is called that produced from solar energy or even from sugarcane ethanol, has been seen as an ideal substitute both for hydrogen already used and for fuels made from petroleum.

With a mostly clean energy matrix, Brazil stands out as a potential world leader in the production of fuel, both for domestic use and for export.

The topic was debated during the ILP-FAPESP Cycle of Science and Innovation: “Green Hydrogen – Sustainable energy, an opportunity for São Paulo and Brazil”, held by the Instituto do Legislativo Paulista and FAPESP.

The event took place at the Legislative Assembly of the State of São Paulo (Alesp) on May 29 and can be seen in full online.

“Brazil has a strong energy matrix in the area of ​​renewables. But production from other clean sources will be important from the point of view of global commitments on the reduction of greenhouse gases and on policies to reduce the impacts of climate change. And green hydrogen is one of these very important alternatives,” said Carlos Américo Pacheco, director-president of FAPESP's Technical-Administrative Council, during the opening of the seminar.

Ana Flávia Nogueira, a professor at the Institute of Chemistry at the State University of Campinas (IQ-Unicamp), recalled that around 90% of the hydrogen produced today comes from fossil energy sources, such as natural gas. Hydrogen is used in the petrochemical, food and fertilizer (ammonia) industries, among others.

“We are entering the energy transition and it is impossible to imagine this without considering hydrogen as part of the matrix. And to be certified as green, it has to be produced from renewable sources, such as photovoltaic, wind and biomass”, said the researcher, who is director of the Center for Innovation in New Energies (CINE), an Engineering Research Center ( CPE) funded by Shell and FAPESP.

Hydrogen car (green)

Daniel Gabriel Lopes, a partner at Hytron Energia e Gases Especiais, recalls that the main way to obtain hydrogen is using electricity and water. Through the process of electrolysis, hydrogen molecules are separated from oxygen molecules. Another way is through the use of biofuels such as ethanol and biomethane, which come from biogas.

“In this respect, a very promising source for the State of São Paulo is biofuels. We are strong producers of bioethanol and increasingly of biomethane”, he says.

The entrepreneur recalled how FAPESP, through the Innovative Research Program for Small Companies (PIPE), supported the company in the development of equipment that produces hydrogen from ethanol.

“We managed to reach a technological level that enabled us to show the world how we can export ethanol and produce hydrogen in the place where it will be used”, he says.

In partnership with Shell, Senai and the University of São Paulo (USP), the company is going to inaugurate, in 2024, a fueling station for hydrogen vehicles obtained from ethanol, with three buses that circulate on the university campus and one car fueled with the renewable fuel

For Lucia Helena Mascaro Sales, a professor at the Department of Chemistry at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), we have the key to producing green hydrogen, which is the clean energy matrix. More than just selling hydrogen to other countries, however, we have the chance to export products that have sustainability as an added value.

“Everything that goes into green hydrogen production will also be green, from fuel, ammonia and urea to steel. Then we will be able to sell these products abroad with another footprint. Therefore, we have to diversify”, he evaluated.

For the researcher, in a low-carbon economy, the monetary cost will no longer be the only factor, but social and environmental costs. Therefore, the need to advance on all fronts.


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