Before the postponement to this year, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was called the “Hydrogen Olympics” by some people because of the plan to use clean burning gas to power most of the event’s infrastructure. The Olympic Village is the location of athletes during the Olympic Games and it is planned to run on it. 100 hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses and 500 hydrogen-powered vehicles should transport participants and staff between the venues.Even the iconic Olympic torch and cauldron Is set to light up Use hydrogen to power the flame.Organizers and stakeholders say that the Olympics will become the focus of serious problems in Japan Designed to promote the use of hydrogen Achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
but The report shows For reasons that are not yet clear, these initial goals have been reduced. (Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee have not yet responded to requests for comment.) The hydrogen bus plan was cancelled. Only one building in the Olympic Village is actually hydrogen-powered, and part of the torch relay uses propane. Keith Wipke, a hydrogen and fuel cell researcher at National Renewable Energy, said that although the use of hydrogen in the Summer Olympics may not be as extensive as planned, Japan still takes its plan to switch to a gas-based system seriously. laboratory. “I certainly don’t see any signs that Japan or any other country has given up their ambitious aspirations for hydrogen,” he said. “If anything, I think they have redoubled their efforts because they realize that just look at what is happening in the environment, climate change is happening. And we are not acting fast enough.” Science American Talked with Wipke about hydrogen energy in the Olympics and beyond.
[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]
The Tokyo Olympics had to cancel its initial hydrogen plan. Could this be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID changed everything. According to what I have seen in the laboratory and the companies we work with, this is not only the disease itself, but also the supply chain disruption. You may have heard in the news that the price of used cars has risen because people can’t buy new cars—because of the supply disruption caused by COVID. Its chain reaction continues to have a major impact on all walks of life in unexpected ways, which no one can truly prepare for.I think what they did is really amazing [at the Tokyo Olympic Games] Despite the COVID.I’m glad to see, hey, they did follow up Some Hydrogen events and features as part of the Olympic Games.
What are the benefits of using hydrogen as a fuel?
Hydrogen is one of many ways to take it seriously [climate change] Don’t stop business, don’t stop driving vehicles, don’t stop our factories or agriculture. If we can reduce costs, we can transfer these things to hydrogen relatively quickly. Hydrogen provides many benefits of diesel fuel, such as fast refueling and long driving range, without carbon emissions or any emissions, for that matter, as long as you make hydrogen from a clean source. It works by electrolysis: a technology that can use any power source—whether it’s wind, solar, geothermal, hydraulic or nuclear power—[and use it to split] Water becomes hydrogen and oxygen.
Japan’s clean energy goals are beyond the scope of promoting the “Hydrogen Olympics”, right?
For Japan, they have been planning the hydrogen economy for a long time-and using hydrogen as part of its energy system. Then, I thought, they just put their bet on the ground and said, “We will host the Olympics-let us use it to gain visibility and attention for things we are already planning.” But they did not do it because of the Olympics. ; They do this because they do not have a lot of natural resources, but they import a lot of energy. Most energy is imported as fossil fuels, which generates a lot of carbon. Hydrogen does give them the opportunity to import zero-emission carbon fuels, such as solar energy from Australia, wind energy from Norway or anywhere in the world.If you can turn it into hydrogen and possibly [store and transport it in] As a hydrogen energy carrier, you can still import energy and do it in a carbon-neutral way.
Are other countries also investing in hydrogen energy?
Now this is indeed a global event. If you look at the plans in Europe, South Korea, China, the United States, and Canada, most countries are very developed, or at least clearly stated that they want hydrogen to become part of their energy systems. I think Japan is one of the first countries to take the lead, dating back 10 or 15 years ago.They list what they will do in a timeline format, from their Fuel cell vehicle demonstration activitiesThere are many recent events in Europe and other places that are being carried out simultaneously with the United States that may receive more attention-there are larger-scale demonstrations and [the conversion of] Refineries use hydrogen from electrolysis and renewable energy instead of natural gas.
What uses of hydrogen will we see in the next few years?
We are only at the tip of the hydrogen iceberg. Visible-the top of the iceberg- Light fuel cell vehicle. But below this are all other activities. This will be more business-driven-not based on someone’s emotions, but more based on business awareness. For example, heavy-duty hydrogen fuel cell trucks will need to transport goods over long distances in an economical and environmentally friendly manner. On shorter local routes, battery-electric 18-wheel trucks can do well, and they will be able to return and charge slowly. However, if you travel from Denver to I-70 and head west up the hill, you are actually climbing 5,000 to 6,000 feet at a 6% slope. If you were to pull 80,000 pounds of cargo, you wouldn’t want 10,000 of them to be batteries. When you cross the Continental Divide, you may want to refuel and move on within 5 to 10 minutes, because you are staying overnight on your way to Utah, or before you change your driver and continue to California. This is where hydrogen really comes into play: challenging high-power, long-term activities related only to battery power-not impossible but challenging.
What is the next step for hydrogen energy in the United States?
We are not done yet. All other things [including producing hydrogen via solar power or biomasses such as crop residues] Under the iceberg, further development is still needed.Minister of Energy [Jennifer Granholm] Announced Hydrogen Energy “Earth Cannon” Reduce the cost of hydrogen production to US$1 per kilogram [$0.45 per pound] In ten years. This is very challenging-for example, a cost reduction of 80%. This has strengthened and inspired many of our studies in the industry to try to achieve this goal.If you can get that low-cost green hydrogen, it will open up various business opportunities [such as converting hydrogen to electrical power or building heat] When you are at, say, $5 per kilogram, it doesn’t exist [$2.27 per pound]You can use hydrogen from solar and wind energy instead of hydrogen from natural gas to refine petroleum into diesel and gasoline. Right there, from a carbon point of view, large dents will be generated and cleaned up.