Enel Green Power is searching for innovative solutions that can reduce the emission of hydrogen sulfide in our geothermal plants, avoiding the use of soda. A contest aimed at start-ups, independent innovators, and anyone that can propose projects and business solutions.
For over a century, we’ve been using the heat from the earth to produce clean energy. Born from the idea of Prince Piero Ginori Conti, who in 1904 tested the first generator in Larderello (Tuscany), geothermal is now one of the most promising sources of renewable energy, potentially able to meet the average consumption of millions of households.
Before being captured and directed to our plants, geothermal fluids cross through geological formations in the subsoil and reach very high temperatures, generating natural gases associated with natural phenomena like fumaroles and soffioni. Some of these gases, especially hydrogen sulfide, give off a bad odour and and present a threshold of attention and danger set by current legislation.
“The emissions from EGP plants are well below these thresholds, but to make our impact on the territory even more positive and to reduce the bad odour associated with these emissions, we’ve developed and patented the AMIS system (Mercury and Sulferized Hydrogen Reduction).”
An Almost Perfect System
The AMIS system, developed and patented by the engineer Aldo Baldacci (former director of the Enel Group), allows for the reduction of these natural gases to practically zero, as well as of the metals associated with geothermal vapour, eliminating the inconvenience caused by the characteristic odour that comes from the emissions of hydrogen sulfide and fostering the integration of plants into their surrounding territories.
The AMIS system is not perfect, but almost. The chemical sorbent used to make hydrogen sulfide react and eliminate it is soda (sodium hydroxide), which has various disadvantages, including a high cost.
This is why EGP has decided to launch a new Challenge to search for innovative solutions that can reduce the emission of hydrogen sulfide, avoiding the use of soda, on the online platform Open Innovability on 12 September.
“The Challenge stems from a basic question: is there an alternative system to AMIS or an alternative sorbent to soda that we can use to reduce costs and obtain the same efficiency of geothermal fluids in emission?”
The EGP team is already at work with a group dedicated to the topic, but at the same time wanted to extend the question to the outside through Open Innovability, a space for crowdsourcing of ideas dedicated to innovation and sustainability. The best solution, judged by the Enel Green Power commission based on verified technical and economic strength, will be chosen and awarded with 15,000 euro. Visit Open Innovability to find out about the challenge, and read the regulations to find out the terms and conditions for participation.
A platform for innovation
Open Innovability, a portal created by the Innovation & Sustainability function of the Enel Group, came about with the goal of dialoguing with our internal and external stakeholders. Not only colleagues, but also start-ups, independent innovators, universities, research centres and other associations that can propose projects and business solutions. Through the so-called “challenges”, we want to involve the widest range of interlocutors and scout for new proposals and innovative ideas.
“Many of the “challenges” launched on the Open Innovability platform are inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the UN’s 2030 Agenda.”
Enel has already taken on formal commitments with regard to four of the UN’s 17 goals: supporting educational projects (SDG 4), ensuring access to clean and economically accessible energy (SDG 7), promoting employment and inclusive economic development (SDG 8) and enacting actions targeted at decarbonisation by 2050 (SDG 13).