Košice, May 27 (TASR) - A hydrogen research centre could be established in Košice, which would also focus on the use of hydrogen to power cars. This is what the Minister of Economy Richard Sulík (SaS) told the press during Wednesday's visit to the Technical University of Košice (TUKE).
The establishment of such a research centre has been proposed to the Minister by representatives of the university and its Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. "This is an idea that I really like, and I also consider Košice a suitable place. If there is a possibility that I will be able to support it, and we have discussed several options today, then I will certainly support something like that. I think that the hydrogen research centre here in Košice will certainly be a good signal that we are also looking to the future", said the Minister.
The main purpose of the Minister's visit to TUKE was to find out about the state of hydrogen research in Slovakia, while the University in Košice has already made considerable progress in this direction. The Minister pointed out that Slovakia is a major power in car production, but at the same time it is necessary to think about what will happen in the future. "The future may not lie entirely in the electric motor drive and electromobility, because there are too many disadvantages - it's heavy, short distances, battery production is very challenging, and so on. Therefore, we need to look at the alternatives, and that is hydrogen," said the head of the Ministry of Economy.
In this direction, Sulík sees three main areas, namely the production, storage and combustion of hydrogen. "It is this middle part, the storage and transfer of hydrogen to various tanks, in which the University in Košice is, so to speak, among the first in the world, if not the first. I think that such things need to be supported," he added. In this regard, other research institutions in Slovakia are also engaged in hydrogen research, which is why the Minister sees good potential for further research in the country.
The intended centre in Košice would concentrate research capacities and would focus not only on basic research. "It would constitute the hydrogen production, but also the storage and combustion of hydrogen. Last but not least, it would focus on the implementation of hydrogen technologies, that is to say, the application of hydrogen, say, in the automotive industry and various devices," confirmed Tomáš Brestovič, Head of the Department of Power Engineering at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering TUKE, to the press. The centre would combine various existing laboratories and technologies into one unit and would build additional infrastructure.
The problem with hydrogen in use is that it has a very low density. "It is fourteen times lighter than air, so if you want to get a lot of energy into your car, you need to use extremely high pressures, up to 700 bar. Therefore, it is necessary to use carbon fiber-reinforced containers to withstand such high pressures. At the Technical University of Košice and in cooperation with the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS) and Pavol Jozef Šafárik University (UPJŠ), we are trying to develop new materials that can incorporate hydrogen into their structure, such as various powder alloys, in order to eliminate the disadvantage of extremely high pressures," explained Brestovič.
Among other things, the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering presented to the Minister a prototype of a metal hydride hydrogen compressor with a heat pump, which allows to compress hydrogen from low to high pressure, while the hydrogen does not come into contact with any moving parts.
Part of Sulík's program at TUKE was a meeting with the Rector Stanislav Kmeť and the Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering Jozef Živčák. The Minister also praised the activities of the university and the faculty in the production and development of protective shields, respirators and a universal lung ventilator in the fight against COVID-19.