By Rochelle Ives
2020’s record heatwaves and storms confirm what scientists have long predicted: climate change is well underway and threatens unparalleled destruction.
The scarcity of water being a foremost concern for the future, it is vital we have affordable technology solutions for clean drinking water as well as means of removing pollutants from existing water sources. The Israeli CleanTech scene holds solutions and promise; H2Pro, Watergen, and Aqwise to name only a few.
Moreover, the burning of fossil fuels including coal and gas to generate electricity is the primary contributor and most “forcing” factor behind climate change. Suffice to say, cost-effective alternatives to burning fossil fuels are long overdue.
When Hydrogen is burned and converted into electricity using a fuel cell, the only by-product of the process is water. There are no destructive Co2 emissions, and one kilogram of hydrogen has as much energy as a gallon of gasoline. This makes hydrogen the ideal replacement for fossil fuels and combatting climate change.
Despite hydrogen being abundant in most elements on earth, almost all hydrogen is located in molecules where it is often inaccessible, predominantly as water and other organic compounds. The most common way to extract hydrogen is from natural gas, however, this process results in the release of large amounts of carbon dioxide. The lesser polluting approach is to split the water into oxygen and hydrogen using electrolysis, however, this method is not energy efficient.
An Israeli technology company, H2Pro, has a better idea. Backed by Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Venture (BEV). H2Pro’s E-TAC (electrochemical-thermally activated chemical) system generates hydrogen and oxygen in two separate processes that reduce both costs and pollution significantly, playing a game-changing role in the reduction of polluting vehicle emissions and the clean production of materials and chemicals, heating and storage of renewable energy.
“Clean hydrogen is a game-changer,” U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “It will help decarbonize high-polluting heavy-duty and industrial sectors while delivering good-paying clean energy jobs and realizing a net-zero economy by 2050.”
The company announced a USD 22million funding round, led by BEV, set up by Microsoft founder and renowned philanthropist to invest in key energy transition technologies, as well as Sumitomo Corporation. It was also named by Royal Dutch Shell as the “Best Company In the Scale-Up Track” in its New Energy Challenge competition.
Unlike other technologies, H2Pro’s E-TAC system uses electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This removes the need for an expensive membrane, allows for simple construction, and significantly lowers the needed power consumption for conversation, compared to electrolysis.
Amid an uncertain and seemingly hopeless fight against climate change, we can take a small amount of comfort in knowing that technologies working to salvage our planet do exist. The adoption of such technologies appears to be a long and rough road ahead. However, the Israeli CleanTech scene continues to grow and innovate.
Israel’s CleanTech and GreenTech start-up ecosystem is using pioneering technologies to promote and advance environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and processes for manufacturing.
With close to $10 billion invested in privately-held Israeli tech firms in 2020, an increase of 27% from 2019, experts in the field such as Guy Holtzman the CEO of IVC Research Center, say Israeli CleanTech companies “will continue to be a source of attraction for leading international, financial, and strategic players.”
While H2Pro leads the way for hydrogen energy, there are many other Israeli companies to watch in the CleanTech space.
With 97% of the world’s water supplies being saltwater, and the majority of the remaining 3% of freshwater being trapped in ice caps and frozen glaciers, a freshwater shortage is impending.
Israeli company, Aqwise has developed a ground-breaking way to clear water of pollutants. Their technology works by treating the water with bacteria that feed on those pollutants, in doing this they create a complementary relationship. The bacteria is exposing to the pollutants water and “eats” them, while simultaneously removing any impurities from the water.
Additionally, WaterGen’s technology creates clean drinking water out of thin air. Watergen was initially a start-up conceived to provide easily accessible and safe water to militaries worldwide. Since then, Watergen has gone on to tackle a diverse range of water scarcity problems, in developing countries and following natural disasters. They currently do work with both Ford Motors and World Vision.
The continued growth and rapid industrialization of the global economy, coupled with the need to supply energy to fuel both our lives and the economy – places us at a crossroads. The burning of fossil fuels, polluting the air with carbon emissions, is the primary contributor to climate change, rising sea levels, and a growing number of natural disasters.
People have long been looking into developing and integrating into society, advanced technological solutions to maintain our way of life whilst protecting the air we breathe, and water we drink.
With its advanced economy based on competitive research & development together with Israel’s culture of innovation – the Israeli technology industry is at the forefront of change and provides a glimpse towards a better, more sustainable future.