Under pressure from the energy transition, some large companies abroad are discovering hydrogen for the first time, but others have been studying the technology of hydrogen and fuel cells for decades. A number of Greek universities and research centers have internationally acclaimed and competitive teams of researchers, mainly in the fields of hydrogen from biofuel and mineral fuel (primarily natural gas), as well as in fuel cells and their components.
Twenty years ago, a University of Patra spin-off was created and named Helbio, specializing in the development, manufacturing and marketing of hydrogen and energy systems primarily from renewable sources, either for industrial use or integrated with fuel cells for combined heat and power (CHP) production.
Its chief executive officer, Xenophon Verykios, tells Kathimerini that in its research initiatives the company’s objective was to transform biofuel into hydrogen as this has zero carbon dioxide emissions. Helbio has established a leading position worldwide in hydrogen production from biofuels and possesses key expertise in catalysis, reaction engineering, process design and system integration and control.
In those two decades Helbio has developed innovative technologies in the production of hydrogen and electricity through hydrogen and fuel cells, receiving six patents with three more applications pending.
The company, which employs more than 20 staff, was the first to introduce the idea of creating hydrogen from biofuel and biomass (such as waste from cultivations and agricultural industries). The use of biomass, Verykios explains, “has the great advantage that the hydrogen produced is free from CO2 emissions, as the carbon of the biomass has been disengaged from the atmosphere, so it participates in the circular process.”
At its factory in Patra, Helbio produces two product families: a system of joint generation of electrical energy and heat (HSPs-5) and a family of hydrogen production units.
Helbio is currently constructing a unit that will operate on biogas for a service station in Gothenburg, Sweden, as of next month. It is also involved in large-scale projects such as providing power to islands off the grid using renewable energy sources and hydrogen.