Consortium partners gather for Sicily technical meeting

A group of FreeHydroCells team members from partner organisations across Europe gathered in Catania, Sicily recently for the first in-person technical meeting since the project began in November 2022. The event was hosted by CNR (il Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche), at the Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems based at the University of Catania, Sicily.

The ultimate goal of FreeHydroCells is to develop a novel solar-to-chemical system for energy generation using bonds of molecular hydrogen as fuel.

Taking place over two days on June 8th and 9th, the purpose of this meeting was to both monitor progress across Work Packages since the first online technical meeting in March 2023, as well as to strategically direct the focus of scientific activities over the next 6 months.

The meeting was attended by 25 project team members from across Europe representing partner organisations AMO GmbH, BARDS, CEA, CNR, RWTH AachenUCC, and UCC Academy.

The agenda for Day 1 aimed to consolidate and build on key actions flowing from the previous meeting. Session 1 kicked off with a Month 8 ramp-up status report from each partner, summarising readiness in terms of existing and planned materials, equipment and staff. It also included discussion on partner-Work Package interrelationships – a key dynamic for achieving project aims. Opportunities for exchange were identified, with plans for CNR and RWTH to send a researcher and material samples to UCC respectively.

Session 2 focused on Month 8 status progress reports from each partner highlighting completed tasks against respective Work Package deliverables, as well as planned next steps. It was agreed that UCC will send wafers and diodes to CNR, and will investigate providing baseline test material samples for CEA. The session also included discussion on interrelationships and an issue facing the project (and industry as a whole) – delays in the procurement and supply of essential materials. This is an area that will continue to be closely monitored over the coming months.

Meanwhile on Day 2, sessions 3 and 4 focused on the materials, components and building blocks needed to drive progress over the coming year and up to Month 18. The planned integration of these between Work Packages and partners was also explored, with a series of actions for the coming months identified.

All in all, the 2-day meeting represented an important stepping stone along the path towards achieving the technical objectives laid out in the project plan. 

In particular the collegial spirit and strong relationships evident among those present continues to be a key driving force underpinning the ongoing collaborative research into low-cost solar-to-hydrogen technologies, funded by the Horizon Europe programme.

The strategic planning and focus from Catania will now act as a springboard for research activities over the months ahead, with progress to be re-evaluated at the group’s next planned gathering in Cork, Ireland in October 2023.

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