Air Liquide backs the Solar Impulse Foundation because it shares the vision that inspires its founder Bertrand Piccard: responding to environmental challenges with solutions technologically credible, economically profitable. These solutions prove that protecting the environment and combating climate change generate jobs and wealth and that they are a promising business sector. They just need to be better promoted to political decision makers, market players and the general public so they can be deployed.
Converting natural gas expansion into liquid hydrogen
Natural gas moves through thousands of kilometers in offshore and onshore gas pipelines across countries and even continents. To cover such long distances, natural gas is carried under high pressure in these pipelines. "But before it is delivered to consumers, the pressure is lowered to the right level for units consuming this gas. This pressure, and the energy used to compress this gas is lost when the gas is depressurized," explains Alain Guillard, VP of Technology, E&C Americas.
Thanks to CryonodTM, the lost energy is recuperated and used to produce clean cryogenic liquids. Liquid hydrogen can thus be inexpensively produced and distributed to local consumers, such as gas stations.
"Our solution is sustainable because of the simple fact that it recovers that wasted energy and helps make the supply chain more efficient," explains Alain Guillard. "But more importantly, it can liquefy natural gas and hydrogen with little to no energy." That reduces the carbon footprint: the liquid hydrogen produced emits 30% less carbon dioxide (CO2) than a traditional unit. And it costs 25% less!
"The solution exists ‒ all that's left is determining where to install the first unit: we need a site with pure gas to liquefy (hydrogen), a large quantity of natural gas and/or nitrogen under medium pressure to recuperate the expansion volume of the gas, not to mention proximity to potential customers. These industrial junctions exist and are numerous, especially in regions like Texas. In fact, we are in the process of creating a market," concludes Alain Guillard.
"The novelty lies in combining the use of wasted energy with the refrigeration effect to produce highly valuable cryogenic liquids."
Alain Guillard, VP of Technology, E&C Americas
E&C Americas :
Alain Guillard, VP Technology
Kirill Andreev, Director Customer Centric Strategy
Mike Turney, Senior Cryogenic Expert
Vincent Follaca, Senior Business Development Manager
E&C Frankfurt :
Alexander Roesch, Director HYCO Product Line
Liquid hydrogen production that is 25% cheaper
Improving water quality at a lower cost
"Water scarcity is a growing problem around the world. Increasing urban populations, climate change and the deteriorating quality of natural water sources are complicating access to water," explains Jan Mante. With all those considerations in mind, this engineer at Air Liquide Germany (Krefeld) developed a water purification process using oxidation, Ozone Strong Water, in collaboration with Midhun Joy, an Air Liquide researcher (Delaware Campus Innovation).
"The processes used traditionally to treat wastewater do not break down all the toxic components. Ozone is one solution, but it is still expensive. Instead of using ozone gas, we ozonated strong water (supersaturated) that is then applied to the wastewater," explains Jan Mante. This technology can be installed in any water and wastewater treatment plant in which advanced oxidation is necessary to guarantee clean, safe water. It eliminates micropollutants like hormones and antibiotics and reduces the toxicity of wastewater. Plus, it does not generate any hazardous solid waste.
"We are offering an innovation that makes it possible to use less ozone than standard ozonation processes, which translates to 20% savings in operating costs," notes Jan Mante. The financial argument is compelling for a sustainable solution that is full of potential, as the need for quality drinking water and the use of ozone to treat water continue to rise.
"Our technology is sustainable because it recovers wastewater, improves water quality and also facilitates water access for some population segments."
Jan Mante, Air Liquide engineer
Jan Mante, Air Liquide engineer
Midhun Joy, Air Liquide researcher (Delaware Innovation Campus)
Ivan Pajolli, Global Marketing Manager for Utilities, Recycling and Waste, Air Liquide
Up to €400,000 in savings over 10 years for a water plant with capacity of 100,000 PE (population equivalent)
Helping to develop hydrogen mobility
It is now possible to power bicycles, drones, forklifts and road vehicles with high purity hydrogen, directly at high pressure, without compression and without carbon! ERGOSUP has developed a silent hydrogen generator, HyRiS (Hydrogen Refueling Station), for decentralized refueling applications. This system can also be used to convert electricity from renewable energy sources into hydrogen gas (energy storage at an isolated site).
HyRiS is the only technology to date to divide water electrolysis into two steps to produce oxygen and hydrogen separately. And it does not generate any CO2 emissions. "With the same equipment, our solution makes it possible to produce hydrogen and store it under pressure without using a compressor," explains Lucile Voiron, Deputy Director at ERGOSUP, who is in charge of operations, development and marketing of HyRIS products.
HyRiS is a solution that is both sustainable and profitable. "It has very low CAPEX (capital expenditures that will have a positive value over the long term) and has proven to be a great solution to complement the offer of major hydrogen stations like the ones Air Liquide proposes. It can help fill in gaps in regional coverage by providing additional refueling stations, which will promote the development of the hydrogen mobility," adds Lucile Voiron.
The "Solar Impulse Efficient Solution" label is an excellent way to raise the profile of this technology and foster its development. "It will also boost our credibility. We are a small start-up: the backing of Air Liquide has already helped us a lot, but this label will further broaden our reach," notes Lucile Voiron.
"ALIAD, the venture capital investment arm of the Air Liquide Group, is an old shareholder in ERGOSUP. In addition to that financial support, the group gives us technical support that helps us get things done faster."
Lucile Voiron, Deputy Director of ERGOSUP
Lucile Voiron, Deputy Director at ERGOSUP, in charge of operations, development and marketing of HyRIS products
HyRiS is 30% to 40% less expensive than an alkaline solution or B50 delivery
For Renaud Thiard, an intrapreneur at the Air Liquide i-Lab, there is a huge opportunity in the construction industry to develop indoor air purification solutions. "Buildings consume a lot of energy and we are seeing a shift in the property management sector: instead of simply renting spaces, companies are also renting services, including those promoting wellness in the workplace. Our pilot solution addresses a need in the market."
This indoor air purification solution originated in an internal call for projects at the group, in which Renaud Thiard participated. "Our pilot solution is easy to integrate in a new or existing building and it reduces indoor (VOCs) and outdoor (particles) pollution. That means it helps improve the health of building occupants. It also lowers the carbon footprint of buildings by reducing their energy consumption," explains Renaud Thiard. Thanks to the number of connected sensors, users can remotely monitor air quality and energy consumption in real time.
The pilot solution has been tested over the past 18 months at an Air Liquide building and has already drawn attention! In 2018 it won an Air Quality Award from Urban Lab (Paris&Co experimental laboratory) and in 2019 it earned the Building Health Award in the "Innovative Technologies to Improve Indoor Air Quality" category.
"This solution was developed at Air Liquide in an intrapreneurial spirit and tackles one of the group's priorities: air quality."
Renaud Thiard, Intrapreneur, Air Liquide i-Lab
Renaud Thiard, Intrapreneur, Air Liquide i-Lab
Romain Gardenat, Intrapreneur, Air Liquide i-Lab
For one 2,000 m2 unit, annual energy spending is reduced up to 30%
Since the foundation's launch in 2017, many partners have lent their support to create the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions. "Air Liquide has played a decisive role from the beginning, " explains Bertrand Piccard. "It was one of the first partners of Solar Impulse and, now, the Solar Impulse Foundation." Today, the alliance has 1,965 members and 240 solutions have earned the label. The initiative continues so that clean solutions can be implemented quickly. The 12 other solutions from Air Liquide and its partners that have earned the Solar Impulse Efficiency Solution label can also make a difference, just like the group's overall efforts to promote clean technologies.
"Instead of depressing people by talking to them about problems, we have to give them hope by showing them there are solutions."
Bertrand Piccard, Founder of the Solar Impulse Foundation
Article published on October 25, 2019