The participants are investigating new possibilities for the storage of renewable energy. With the new European climate targets, there will be a switch to renewable energy anyway. To make this change possible, new ways are needed to store that energy, and then use it when we need it.
If we rely on the GenComm open meeting as an indicator we could all be driving cars powered by ammonia in the near future. This can relatively easily be extracted from the atmosphere. Ammonia - the chemical formula NH3, contains a lot of hydrogen and is easier to store, unlike hydrogen (H2), which requires a lot of energy for storage, because it only liquefies at extremely high pressure and very low temperatures.
"Most scientists agree that the growing share of green energy can cause problems for our energy supply," says Professor Francesco Contino of the BURN research group at the VUB. "The energy we need will not always be available at the right time. That is why we are looking for new ways, in addition to batteries, to store this energy sustainably. There have been experiments with hydrogen for years. But we get stuck in the storage of that hydrogen, which is still a fine and clean fuel. You can produce hydrogen with renewable energy, but it remains problematic to store it. "
For this reason, the scientists started looking for alternatives and ended up with ammonia. With ammonia you avoid the storage problems ", says Contino. "It becomes liquid under low pressure and the binding element nitrogen is massively present in our atmosphere. Ammonia (NH3) is a compound of nitrogen (N) with three hydrogen atoms (H). The storage therefore does not cost a lot of energy. "
This ammonia thinking track was already explored in the 1940s, when the shortage after the war made tests to let gasoline engines more or less successfully run on ammonia. "The problem with ammonia is that it is difficult to ignite," says Contino. "But we can solve that. It is also CO2-neutral. "
During the open meeting, ideas were exchanged about a software program that helps communities and administrations to switch to more sustainable energy policy. In this context, Brussels Minister for the Environment Céline Fremault also took part in the meeting.