An Italian startup transforms water and sun into green hydrogen: “Let’s imitate photosynthesis”

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The ideal solution for solving energy problems? Imitating nature. Purifying waste water and producing green hydrogen also along highways, railways, public and private buildings, ports and airports, finally making it affordable and accessible. Alexander, Marta, Simelys, Matteo, Noemi and the rest of the team that makes up Green Independence, a startup Climate tech founded in Puglia in August 2020 and partner of the Polytechnic of Turin, they were inspired by trees to develop a innovative system to decentralize the production and storage of green energy.

They called him New Artificial Leaf (NAL) and is an evolution of solar panels, conceived as a leaf and therefore able to store solar energy directly, producing green hydrogen. “In fact, our new technology, like trees, can simultaneously produce energy from the sun, store energy that is not used immediately by transforming waste or marine water into green hydrogen and recycle CO2 emissions by producing synthetic fuels,” explain the researchers.


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It will be one of the most amazing ideas on display over the course of Smau – Italy RestartsUpscheduled in Paris from 23 to 25 March with the aim of creating a bridge between the Italian innovation ecosystem, the Parisian Hub and also the French market.

Enlightenment has come to Alessandro Monticelliengineer and Supply chain manager in a large American multinational, during his studies at the Polytechnic University of Turin, Alabama and the University of Illinois in Chicago, where he studied alternative fuels and studied the mechanisms of artificial photosynthesis. “The starting idea is all in all intuitive. – he explains – We start from dirty water or sea water, transforming it into distilled and drinking water through the heat dissipated by a photovoltaic panel, which in the meantime takes in electricity even more efficient thanks to the cooling action guaranteed by the water. The surplus of energy that does not find a direct user is converted into hydrogen through an integrated electrochemical cell. And it does not end there. The cell is able to transform water saturated with anhydride carbon in Syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide which becomes synthetic fuel “.

With Monticelli today they are there Marta Pisanico-founder, responsible for the administrative and organizational management of the project and creator of the brand, Simelys Hernándezprofessor at the Polytechnic of Turin with decades of experience in research projects related to hydrogen production and CO2 reduction, Matteo Morcianoa post-doc in Energy Engineering at the Politecnico, Noemi FiglioliniFinancial Planning and Analysis Executive and two advisor, Laura De Lorenzis And Andrea Mingolla. A team with a strong Apulian matrix (Brindisi, in particular), which is gradually expanding into a multidisciplinary group.

The potential of the procedure capable of favoring a paradigm shift in the world of energy and transport seems to be significant in terms of savings. “The competitive advantage of New Artificial Leaf is thedecentralized approach: direct production from solar to H2 without the need for connection to the mains or batteries and therefore where it was previously inconceivable: on residential buildings, along railways and highways, car parks, petrol stations and other infrastructures, increasing their profitability and, above all, lowering the cost of green hydrogen. So if today for a real turning point carbon free widespread infrastructures are lacking, especially in heavy transport – explains the founder of the startup – our project would allow produce hydrogen on-site for hydrogen trucks and trains, including along motorways and railway junctionsalso favoring the energy transition of old coal-fired power plants green without having to destroy the old infrastructure. “Energy

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The idea is precisely that of a transformation of the infrastructures that it guarantees zero emissions: “With our system – explains Monticelli – green energy is produced independently and where it is needed, without waste, with a reduction in the need to transport it from the producer to the user. We can make existing infrastructure more sustainable and energy-efficient by recycling their direct emissions and reducing their carbon footprint“. Power

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The small-scale prototype should be ready in 12 months, while the final one will arrive within two years. Industrialization could take place as early as 2025. And Snam, one of the leading energy infrastructure companies in the world and one of the largest listed Italian companies by capitalization, already seems to believe in the new technology, which has invested the first 60,000 dolars to verify the concreteness the idea of ​​the startup which was validated at the Department of Applied Science and Technology laboratories of the Politecnico di Torino. All while Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Venture Capital and Plug and Play, one of the most important American investor and business accelerator in the world, have – first – begun to believe in this ambitious and promising project.

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