EPRO Advance Technology (EAT) has hailed a “breakthrough” in green hydrogen generation and energy storage.
On 18 July, it announced that it has developed a porous silicon material, named Si+, able to generate ultra-pure hydrogen from a water source, acting as a solid-state hydrogen generating material. Considering it is compact, robust and easily transportable as well, it is therefore able to solve many issues that have proven to stifle the growth of the hydrogen economy in the past.
Si+ can offer a guaranteed source of safe on-demand energy, meaning it has the potential for multiple uses, including phasing out expensive back-up power diesel generator sets, serving as a replacement for marine fuel oil, offering a thermal energy storage solution through the exothermic heat released during the hydrogen generation reaction, and supporting the mass roll out of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and, building on this, hydrogen-powered flights.
According to EAT, Si+ will allow for intercontinental energy distribution to local, on-demand hydrogen generators and hydrogen refuelling stations using existing infrastructure. This means traditional container logistics can be used to deliver Si+, in place of expensive pressurised tube trailers, reducing up-front capital expenditure. Furthermore, considering it does not store hydrogen as it comes from water, Si+ is “ultra-safe” compared to other hydrogen carrying materials.
EAT mapped out how small Si+ hydrogen refuelling stations, generating hydrogen locally, can share the footprint of an existing fuel station. This reduces capital and operational expenditure. The raw material of Si+ – a metallurgical grade silicon – can be sourced from sand, together with a carbon source, as well as recycled silicon from broken or end-of-life solar panels. This process does not produce any new carbon. EAT also highlighted how Si+ will function particularly well in locations where there is inadequate grid infrastructure. This would include Africa, where fossil fuels are used to generate 40% of electricity.