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ENEA at Ecomondo: zero emission city cars, mini solar power plants and an air pollution forecasting system

ENEA at Ecomondo: zero emission city cars, mini solar power plants and an air pollution forecasting system

A hybrid (electric + hydrogen) “antismog” city car, an innovative air pollution forecasting system and mini solar power plants are some of the technologies that ENEA brought to the International Trade Fair ECOMONDO 2017, which took place 7 to 10 November 2017 in Rimini.

“Urb-e 4.0” is the new generation of zero emission city cars developed in the laboratories of the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), which overcome the problems related to recharging from the grid (plug-in) thanks to a hydrogen powered fuel cell.

After the first petrol hybrid versions, and the pure electric versions with lead-acid batteries plus supercapacitors and a lithium-ion battery, here comes the model 4.0 that works with a very small fuel cell powered by two 10 litre hydrogen cylinders. The 4 kWh battery is recharged in 4 hours and is capable of an 80 km range at a cost of about 3 euro for hydrogen, while the cylinders, once exhausted, can be replaced in a few minutes. A modification to the vehicle management software is currently under development and will allow the fuel cell, when running at a constant speed, to directly power the electric traction motor avoiding battery losses, with a 20% efficiency gain.

At ECOMONDO 2017, ENEA also presented the innovative “ForAir_IT” hourly air pollution forecasting system, able to predict air quality for 3-5 days with a level of accuracy never before achieved on a national scale (areas the size of a small Italian town).

“Thanks to the computing power of ENEA’s CRESCO4 supercomputer”, said Gabriele Zanini, Head of the Models and Technologies for the Reduction of Anthropic Effects and Natural Hazards division, “it is possible to know in advance the concentrations of air pollutants that are dangerous for health, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and ozone. This system allows us to achieve an unprecedented level in mapping air pollutants in Italy, so that the municipalities can take timely antismog measures, especially in winter, when levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter PM10 and PM2.5 often exceed legal limits, in particular in the Po Valley and in big cities”.

In terms of air quality, ENEA is engaged in the production of green electricity from mini solar power plants, such as the four small scale concentrated solar power plants built in Egypt, Cyprus, Jordan and Italy (in Palermo) with the STS-Med (Small scale Thermal Solar district units for Mediterranean communities) project that involved 14 partners (including ENEA).

Equipped with innovative energy storage systems, the mini power plants produce a total of more than 450 kW and, in addition to electricity, they also provide air conditioning for public buildings for a total of about 20,000 people per year, and services such as desalination and water treatment, essential for some local communities in the Mediterranean basin.

The 1 MW concentrated solar power plant built in Egypt within the MATS (Multipurpose Applications by Thermodynamic Solar) project uses the technology developed by ENEA. “It is a small scale solar power plant”, explained Alberto Giaconia of the Engineering of Solar Technologies Laboratory, “and it can work both off-grid and connected to the electricity grid. The system can meet the energy needs of a community of over 1,000 people and produce about 250 m3 of desalinated water per day”. The system uses molten salts at a maximum temperature of 550°C as process fluid and a thermal storage system that allows energy to be distributed also in the absence of solar radiation. The plant can be integrated with biomass powered generators, ensuring greater continuity in the production of electricity, especially at night and in winter.