FreeHydroCells featured at ISMES X

Erice is a beautiful, medieval hilltop town near Trapani in northwest Sicily. It was the venue for the first ISMES school in 2010, and has hosted the event on several more occasions over the past decade. In 2023, ISMES X returned home to Erice, taking place at the Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture from 3rd – 8th July.

Erice, Sicily. Photo credit: Valentina Locatelli on Unsplash.


The International School on Materials for Energy and Sustainability (ISMES), is a training school focused on addressing challenges around the themes of sustainable energy sources for future global supply and production. The School moves location each year, having been held previously in California and Colorado, USA, as well as Italy. Each new iteration is marked in Roman numerals, thus making ISMES X the tenth school to be held since its inception in 2010. (Activity paused for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic).


This year, sessions focused on reviewing critical materials issues for the renewable and sustainable production and storage of energy. As the organisers remarked, innovation, problem-solving and capacity building in these areas are “ever more important for our planet, as climate change consequences of business-as-usual become obvious”. This point was all too starkly underscored in the context of ongoing record-breaking heatwaves across much of southern Europe, including Sicily.

Students learnt about current state-of-the-art in renewable energy technologies. Moreover, they also explored ideas and opportunities for viable future green energy production. This included the FreeHydroCells concept of low-cost freestanding energy-to-hydrogen fuel generation by solar energy absorption.

Over the course of the week, leading experts provided lectures across a wide range of topics. For instance, green hydrogen, solar energy, photovoltaics, biofuels, wind and nuclear energy, and more.

Students read FreeHydroCells informational brochures at ISMES X 2023.
Students at ISMES X 2023.

School Director, and FreeHydroCells team member Professor Antonio Terrasi of University of Catania presented the FreeHydroCells project in the context of technology and knowledge transfer. This examines how to turn a good idea into a commercially viable and market-ready solution.

The School also featured group brainstorming sessions on the topics above, and poster presentations.

As the organisers highlighted, ISMES X brought together an “international community of students, young scientists, and experts in a unique atmosphere for reciprocal benefits in terms of enthusiasm, knowledge and new ideas”. In conclusion, the event gathered diverse groups, all focused toward the goal of sustainable solutions for future global energy needs.

ISMES X was supported by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Scientific Research, and the Sicilian Regional Government. For further information, visit here.

School Director and FreeHydroCells team member Professor Antonio Terrasi presenting the FreeHydroCells concept to students at ISMES X.

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