Interview with Giovanni Cinti

If you want to – and you understand Italian – you can also watch the interview on YouTube.

 

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Good afternoon, today we have a new guest: Giovanni Cinti, an Engineer of the Fuel Cell Laboratory of the University of Perugia.

Giovanni Cinti (University of Perugia): Good afternoon.Thank you for your time. Why are we interviewing Giovanni Cinti? First, he works in a fuel cell lab, which is in line with our topics. He’ll tell us about it and what he does in this laboratory. Then,we’ll talk about a project we want to link to our FCHgo! project since it aims at introducing the subject of fuel cells and hydrogen in schools. I’ll give you the floor Giovanni. What’s the Fuel Cell Lab of the University of Perugia? What do you do? Can you show us something?

Giovanni Cinti (University of Perugia): Yes, absolutely.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Thank you.

Giovanni Cinti (University of Perugia): Welcome, this is the Fuel Cell Lab of the University of Perugia. It’s a research center and we basically do research in the Department of Engineering in the field focusing on energy and, in this case, on sustainable energies and new technologies. This laboratory has been researching for twenty years on hydrogen and fuel cells. It’s called “Fuel Cell Lab” because among the different parts of hydrogen and fuel cell technology we mainly focus on fuel cells, which are those devices converting hydrogen into electricity and power, which is used for all applications dealing with this technology.What do we do? We buy and develop new fuel cell solutions, which are new technologies, and we test them in particular operating conditions. We mainly deal with static applications, but also with automotive applications, therefore we test prototypes or units and we run specific tests. We do this for scientific purposes, to understand how far technology can go and how it can help solving technological problems in a sustainable way. We also work for companies that ask us to study or test their products. As I always say, our main activity is basically breaking fuel cells. We put them in extreme operating conditions to see their resistance. You asked me to show some devices, now I’ll show you the object that is the most disappointing for the enthusiasts of this technology–a fuel cell. This is an example of a low-temperature fuel cell, a Pacman. As you can see fuel cells are also called batteries, but what I have in my hand is a piece of paper. A piece of paper made of Nafion, which is the main electrolyte involved in this kind of technology. There are other types of cells, I’ll show you another kind. This is a ceramic fuel cell working differently. These are examples of fuel cells corresponding to normal batteries.Once one of our partners called them “hydrogen batteries”. I think it’s a perfect term explaining that they work with hydrogen and their functioning and technology are similar to a battery.Now that I see them, they look like old diapositives. It really looks like a diapositive.We used the very same word, I’d call them “fuel diapositives”. This is a basic element like a battery with a component called a galvanic cell, which is usually piled up to produce enough power in a device called “stack”. This is a stack. If you look carefully you can see that between the black plates there are some white threads. The black plates aren’t cells, they’re interconnectors connecting the positive or negative poles of two different cells, as it would happen on an exchanger where the metal element short-circuits the two poles of the batteries.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): That’s clear.

Giovanni Cinti (University of Perugia): We don’t only study cells, but when it’s possible, also more complex devices. We also insert these devices in engines and vehicles to understand their potential. In addition to research, education and technological transfer, as a university we cover all these three areas, we also work on designing components. Almost all our activities are part of funded or non-funded projects involving other organizations, partners and institutions. That’s how we got in touch.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Exactly. I’d also like to highlight another thing that you do, which is in line with the project we’ll talk about. One of your goals is to make these technologies knownoutside your research center among communities and schools. This is one of the activities you promote through your projects and here I will introduce your project HySchools, an Erasmus + project. I’m addressing teachers who are following us now, so that they can discover EU funding. Our ! is a Horizon project and it aims to reach schools, to create awareness and training materials for schools on fuel cells. In the same way, an Erasmus + project, a Programme that is probably more famous than H2020, can address the same subject by involving different institutions, such as universities and research centers. Can you tell us something more about your Erasmus project, which is a Strategic Partnership in the field of Higher Education?

Giovanni Cinti (University of Perugia): Sure. Our project is called HySchools. The name of our project starts with h and y like the word “hydrogen”, but these letters actually stand for “high schools”. We chose this name since our coordinator was from Manchester and was English. It’san Erasmus + project in the field of Higher Education and it mainly involves universities. This experience involved universities, public institutions and companies, which decided to network to support the introduction of hydrogen and fuel cells topics in schools.To reach this goal, we educated people and we developed training material for teachers so that they could use them to make this technology known through dedicated lessons, more or less complex in their schools. In this field, our main objective was to involve the public opinion. It is essential to do this and in particular to reach students and younger generations. It is a strategic approach. From the start, the project didn’t address students directly but teachers, since we wanted teachers to bethe main supporters of the technology and the project. Another objective was that of developing materials, which you can find on HyScools website.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): You can see it below now.

Giovanni Cinti (University of Perugia): We developed training materials, such as short lessons, presentations, we selected some videos on our YouTube channel. We organized quizzes on the Kahoot! platform. You can see them on the screen.Could you please show us the former slide Danica?Here is the international partnership with France, Romania, Greece, Italy, UK and Belgium I was talking about. There was another slide showing the different activities of our project, with experts and research centers helped by pedagogists to transform contents in useful materials for schools. We had the opportunity to get in touch with schools and promote this technology by involving them into workshops. You’ll see our contacts in the next slides.It was interesting to involve schools and also stakeholders such as companiesand public institutions. We had a productive atmosphere with many ideas to transfer these materials and opportunities to teachers in schools. People recognized the importance of this action and many teachers showed to be very interested in it. At this moment anyone can take part in the follow-up i.e. through regional and local projects which involve a school to design a prototype and to analyze the subject.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Actually your approach is very interesting and the materials you published are available and accessible from your website, which is now being shown and is connected to FCHgo! because to us they constitute additional resources to the already existing materials provided by FCHgo!, there’s a synergy between these projects because teachers have the possibility to get extra material, which is directly addressed to students, and can use it to further explain the theme in class. Danica is showing your website, for sure your educational path is a surplus to the didactic program promoted by FCHgo! because you also deal with legislation and some aspects concerning the history of hydrogen.

Giovanni Cinti (University of Perugia): Exactly, we have a heterogeneous target in order to touch all the subjects at school and we are lucky because hydrogen energy has always been a multidisciplinary sector, so it concerns economic policies and historical aspects as well as technology and safety notions. We split the topic into eleven, twelve sectors to offer new perspectives to the most interested teachers, like the social and economic impact of these technologies, or like purely technological or scientific aspects, or for the most enthusiasts, historical aspects. There’s material about space travels which developed by supporting this technology.If teachers want to create an educational path, they can consult the material and take what they need, the material is free and there are also presentations, they can take whatever they need and create a course in line with what they need.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): This is very interesting. At the end of the interview we’ll link the video you’ve prepared and more materials. You were talking about another project that you developed for academies and universities that could be useful for teachers.

Giovanni Cinti (University of Perugia): That’s another project called Net-Tools and its funding area is the same as FCHgo,! It’s a European platform that funds projects within the Erasmus + programme. In this case we developed courses, videos and MOOCs, which are massive open online courses with a complete approach addressing technicians, engineers and specialists as well as curious enthusiasts and teachers that can explore extra themes through video lessons and courses and do online simulationsof some systems and technologies. It’s a more evolved level which can be really interesting, in particular with its exercises inviting students to exploit online tools and to do new experiences, which are not practical experiences but some calculations and quantifications. For example, we developed a tool that reproduces a system with a photovoltaic panel, hydrogen accumulation, a system of energy production. You have a typical evolving technological scenario with various levels of difficulty and conceivedfor high school students.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): This is very interesting and I think it is useful to have all these initiatives and projects available gathered in a hub for everyone, we are referring to our main target which concerns teachersof schools of every stage, so from primary to high school teachers, and also to students that might be curious about these issues and want to explore certain themes for their further education.So, to all of you that are listing, you have plenty of quality resources available validated by experts that work in the field or related with this sector, like for example in your laboratory or into one of those at the university of Modena, this gives to such materials a huge added value.

Giovanni Cinti (University of Perugia): Yes, our ambition is to offer on the web proper quality content.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): This is the strength of this kind of project. I always promote European projects and participation, and this is an example of integration, dialogue and co-operation among various projects that do not necessarily belong to the same programme but that might have the same purposes and this gives them more value. Giovanni, maybe you want to show us some moments of disseminations. Danica from the backstage can show us the photos you shared.

Giovanni Cinti (University of Perugia): Yes, this is to tell you the history of the project which has now ended, as you can see we are still working on follow up by organizing dedicated events. This was a workshop in Pescara with some teachers… It was a workshop where we planned courses together and thought about how to promote educational events of the sector in schools. For example, one of the schools came up with the idea of a project which has been recently funded by Cassa e Risparmio Foundation of Terni to build a laboratory used for the prototypization of a small hydrogen-powered bicycle from the students of that school, and this idea arose during one of these workshops and then concretized into another project.Therefore, there are effective interactions between international and local dynamics for the promotion of technologies.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): I interrupt you for a moment to say that these innovative ideas and experiments are also the aim of FCHgo! International Contest Award, so we would be pleased to have the participation of the schools that already came up with ideas or experiments and would like to present them in the contest. I’ll stop here, you can check the website to know more. What about this second event?

Giovanni Cinti (University of Perugia): This was another interesting experience we had directly with students, it was an educational event. The event was organized at Post, the science museum of Perugia where classes and schools of the territory are often invited to do some experimental experiences. We talked a lot about this theme, we saw some videos, we held a training course which has been useful to me as well as to the students, for the understanding and promotion of this technology.Of course, it is also useful to have some feedback. Here you can see the “main protagonists” of the FCHgo! project of University of Modena, you can see professor Federico Corni and professor Tiziana Altiero in a moment of dialogue for the creation of synergies among projects on the same theme.Around the table you can see the representative of five European projects about hydrogen education active in Italy when they met last year trying to create a national network. There were professor Santarelli and professor Bocci that followed other projects concerning the same theme and addressing universities and higher education.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Definitely. I thank you Giovanni. I say the last thing about European funding:projects keep on existingeven after the funding is concluded, and this is important, when this happens it means that a project has been able to create valid resources. Your Erasmus + HySchools project has created resources which are available and you can use them. This is to encourage all the schools and students, obviously in collaboration with FCHgo!. I thank you a lot, we’ll keep in touch, thank you for your narration and presentations. Good luck with your job. Hurray Fuel cells because this is the future. Thank you very much.Thank you, bye everyone. Bye!

 

 

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