Biodigesters, hydrogen-powered car, and substituting diesel in trucks of the mining industry are subjects under consideration for the next projects.

At the opening of the II Internal RCGI Workshop: Results of July to December 2016, the Academic Director of Research Center for Gas Innovation (RCGI), Professor Julio Meneghini, summarized the activities of the Center’s year of activities. The workshop took place on December 14 and 15, bringing together all of RCGI’s researchers, who presented their projects and the evolution of the results of their research. Besides an exposition of the 29 current projects, Professor Meneghini presented the subjects of possible future projects.

“We have some proposed new projects that are still under study. The hydrogen-powered car is one of them. Its scientific merit was recognized, but it is necessary to arrange the involvement of a bus manufacturer, in order to be able to move forward with the proposal. We are also studying projects in the area of biodigesters, along several lines. Professor Suani Coelho, who is one of the world’s biggest experts in biogas, is responsible for these proposals. We also have a proposal to study offshore hubs, within the context of the gas-to-wire concept, and one regarding the substitution of diesel fuel in trucks used by the mining sector, along with the team of Professor Kazuo Nishimoto, of the Numerical Test Tank of Poli-USP,” Meneghini stated.

According to him, there is still a possibility of an additional injection of funds on the part of Shell, which is one of the sponsors of RCGI. “They are very happy with our work, and the prospects for the coming year are very good. The Center will have a useful life of at least 11 years and we will be able to begin our second year of activities with good motivation,” he stated, remembering that the mission of RCGI also had changes throughout this first year, with a focus, beyond the use of sustainable natural gas, also on hydrogen, biogas, and lowering CO2 emissions on a global scale.

Meneghini emphasized the need to add international universities that have expertise with the subjects linked to the Center, to RCGI’s list of partners. “This already was a part of our first strategic planning. But I know that we have to focus on some institutions, among which I would mention Oxford University, which has excellent studies on combustion; Stanford University, which also works with the concept of the supersonic gas separator; the California Institute of Technology (Caltech); Tokyo University, which works extensively with Carbon Capture and Storage technology and with methane hydrates; and also Yokohama National University.” Besides these, the Professor also mentioned Brazil’s UNICAMP, ABC Federal University, and the Federal University of São Carlos, with which RCGI has already been in contact.

He also pointed out the number of publications by RCGI’s researchers and stated that one of them has already been mentioned in three other works. “The publications are important, but today, we also make a heavy emphasis on innovation and on registering patents. Remembering that there is only innovation when a patent becomes a product and goes on the market.”

Models of Innovation – After the presentation by Meneghini, consultant Karen Mascarenhas presented the first results of her research in foreign universities. She is studying and comparing different models of research centers worldwide. She visited a number of universities in the USA, the United Kingdom, and Japan, in order to gain more details about how they develop innovation, how they raise funding, and how they work with the triple helix concept, which involves efforts by the government, academia, and the private sector.

“I saw that there are at least two models: the one adopted in the United Kingdom and the one in the USA, in which financing comes from both the government and private initiative, and also from the donations of former students and promotion for attracting foreign students; and the Japanese model, where the biggest part of the financing comes from the government.” In the first case, there is heavy internationalization and a focus on cutting edge technology. The American and British institutions attract the best students, who produce innovation, and develop start-ups…. Private initiative focuses its involvement on applied products, which can be disseminated and used on a broad scale. She adds that in Japan, however, most of the research centers are within the companies. They work with a wide range of subjects and hire recent graduates, young people, as employees, who often work in partnerships with other companies. There, they also are investing in internationalization, but there is the language problem, which weighs a bit heavy when attracting foreign students.”