The Centre is outstanding in the way it does science, based on interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, as well as on the so-called triple helix, with projects that involve work by the academic community, the government, and the private sector.

The management model of the Research Centre for Innovation in Greenhouse Gases (RCGI) will be replicated in the University of São Paulo (USP). The announcement was made by USP President Carlos Gilberto Carlotti Junior, on September 1, during the ceremony for signing the cooperation agreement for the production of hydrogen from ethanol, held in the President’s Auditorium in São Paulo.

“The RCGI is the model for two new research centers that are being created at USP, one focused on the Amazon, the other dedicated to oncology. The way in which science is done at the Centre, based on interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, is the parameter to be followed. The RCGI is proud to be a part of USP’s new science profile,” Carlotti said.

The President of the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), Marco Antonio Zago, highlighted the importance of research and development projects based on the triple helix – another of the concepts that guide the work of the RCGI. “Initiatives such as this one show that it is possible to form working partnerships between the university and the private sector,” he explained.

Zago also emphasized that FAPESP is open to supporting new projects of this type, without interfering with the Foundation’s other research support programs. “We can do this because the State of São Paulo has a stated policy to support research. We are extremely happy and excited, and looking forward to the formation of new initiatives of this kind.”

Julio Meneghini, Scientific Director of the RCGI, recalled that the triple helix model optimizes the application of resources. In the case of this project, on the one hand, FAPESP, the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) and SENAI CETIQT (Technology Center for the Chemical and Textile Industry); on the other, USP and RCGI; and the private sector, represented by Shell, Raízen, and Hytron. “It is exciting to see this initiative come to fruition. It is the first pilot plant in the world for producing renewable hydrogen from ethanol, and Brazil can be a leader in this area,” he said.

Disruptive innovation – The ceremony was marked by references to the importance of the project for Brazil and the world, within the context of energy transition and needing to deal with climate change. The general manager of R&D and Innovation at Shell Brazil, Olivier Wambersie, highlighted the importance of ethanol as a vector for hydrogen, which is a source of energy and is a clean emission fuel. “For Shell, this initiative is in line with its mission, which is to reach the level of zero carbon in the next 28 years. This project is one more indication of Shell’s commitment in this regard,” he said, also highlighting the applications scenario. “The hydrogen obtained from ethanol will not only serve the mobility market but will also be used in industrial processes.”

Like the others, Carlotti said he is thrilled to be a part of this initiative. He recalled that his administration, among other priorities, placed innovation as a core activity of the university, and the project also meets another concern of his administration: the environmental issue.

“It is a very important initiative for the Nation’s industrial park and for Brazil’s leadership to extend beyond its borders. It is a bases-loaded home run,” said the President of Hytron, Ricardo Mussa. “It is a transformative project, executed at the right time and in the right place,” added Sérgio Luiz Souza Motta, CEO of Raízen. “I already consider this undertaking a success,” he stressed.

The excitement is not unfounded. The partnership focuses on validating the technology through the construction of two plants sized to produce 5 kg/h of hydrogen and, later, the implementation of a plant 10 times larger, at 44.5 kg/h. The agreement also includes a vehicular refueling station (HRS – Hydrogen Refueling Station) on the USP campus, in the city of São Paulo. In mid-2023, buses running in University City will be equipped with fuel cells and will begin using hydrogen as fuel.

The ceremony that sealed the partnership was also attended by Marcílio Alves, Executive Director of FUSP (University of São Paulo Support Foundation), who reminded of the importance of FUSP in providing legal standing for the project.

The ceremony was also attended by the Scientific Director of FAPESP, Luiz Eugênio Araújo de Moraes Mello, and by the Superintendent of the ANP, Alfredo Renault, in addition to representatives from other institutions and companies.