Interview with Nicola Cavedagna

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

 

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Hello everyone, welcome to these short interviews about fuel cells and hydrogen as clean energy vector. Today we are with a new guest that we want to thank for his time, engineer Nicola Cavedagna of Landi Renzo company.

Nicola Cavedagna (Landi Renzo S.p.A.): Good morning.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Good morning. Landi is a leading company for the development of solutions for clean energy and hydrogen, we create new electrolytic systems for hydrogen generation andsupply.Tell us about it, what does Landi Renzo do, what’s its history? Can you explain to our teachers and students how a company operates locally, in Italy and in Europe?

Nicola Cavedagna (Landi Renzo S.p.A.): Hello everyone again. Thank you for this opportunity. Landi Renzo was founded in 1954, so it’s a relatively long-established company. It was created to transform conventional source-powered cars into NGV cars. The so-called methane systems destined to those who already possessed a car, were also destined to the “after-market”. Over the years our company has developed without forgetting its origins, today it has a worldwide network of car dealers, car workshops, specific points for the kit distribution for the conversion of cars into gas-powered cars. Be it LPG or methane.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Sorry if I interrupt you, just to know, are they the renowned cylinders that are put behind…?

Nicola Cavedagna (Landi Renzo S.p.A.): They are the renowned systems composed of a cylinder that gets pressured, actually LPG is a fluid, so it gets a 10 bar pressure, on the other side methane gets a 220 bar pressure, then the cylinders have a pressure regulator because by putting pressure directly into the engine there will be damage. All the necessary elements running the car, included the control panel that “tricks” the engine making it believe that it’s running by petrol, while instead it’s running by another fuel. Along with this, Landi is involved with OEMs, manufacturers of the first system. At present Landi provides international players and car manufacturers with these components which are directly used in production lines. If you buy a methane car, it is very likely that inside of it there are cylinders and other components. Recently Landi saw hydrogen and fuel cell mobility as the future, as a natural evolution of an environmental vocation that has always been one of its features. Landi saw that NGV, or LPG cars pollute less and have some advantages, like the price per kilometre, just tobe clear, and that’s an advantage for everyone.I have recently started to work in Landi, I’ve been working here for less than a year. I have had some previous experiences in this field and I was asked to work here because Landi is committed and it’s well-structured and it’s still organizing to solve these issues and take action. Everyone knows that by 2050, when I’ll have the possibility to retire, mobility will mostly be hydrogen-powered. This is why we have to reduce, or better, aim to achieve zero emissions of carbon dioxide. There’s nothing to do. There are not many alternatives, fuel cells are reverse batteries where hydrogen enters, so does oxygen, actually together with nitrogen because we extract it from the air and they electrochemically combine to generate energy and water. In 1999 I saw a Beppe Grillo’s show where there was a van transformed into an eco-friendly van and Beppe Grillo would pretend to put himself on a nebulizer with the exhaust pipe. Actually, the pipe emits water vapor. So that’s a green solution.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Of course.

Nicola Cavedagna (Landi Renzo S.p.A.): I have to add a footnote because hydrogen is not a source of energy, it’s not like oil or natural gas. Hydrogen is an energy vector. You must be careful because its eco-friendliness depends on how it is produced. It’s not green at all if we use barrels of oil or billions of m3 of natural gas to produce it. The production of hydrogen by using natural gas, which is nowadays the cheapest and most convenient source, is the cause of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, so we need a way to capture them, which is called “steam reforming for capture” of carbon dioxide, this is a system that makes hydrogen more expensive but it’s worth it. And CO2 can be used again for millions and millions of sparkling water bottles. I’m joking. We’ll find some other ways to use it though.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Of course, like a conversion cycle, definitely.

Nicola Cavedagna (Landi Renzo S.p.A.): At first Landi meetsmarket needs with me. We’re developing several components which are part of a system that starting with compressed hydrogen drives hydrogen in a fuel cell. We’re therefore working on pressure regulators, valves and other components, which are more specific than what the market needed years ago. If only because this time we’re dealing with higher pressure and a different gas.But at Landi we won’t stop here. The group companies are also interested in hydrogen distribution network. Safe&CEC, which is one of our companies, is developing and is going to build compressors and components for refueling stations, which is a thorny issue when we talk about the hydrogen economy. It’s like the chicken or the egg dilemma. If you don’t have refueling stations, you don’tbuy hydrogen cars. But if you don’t buy cars, then refueling stations are useless. It’s always the same story, we’ve experienced the same with natural gas vehicles.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): I was thinking about them. People didn’t buy cars becausethere weren’t refueling stations near them. That’s what people said.

Nicola Cavedagna (Landi Renzo S.p.A.): It’s the natural order of things. Luckily the EU cares about this subject, there are many European projects dealing with the realization of refueling stations and the creation of a real distribution network. The Blue Corridors of the EU serve this purpose, they ensure that there are corridors enabling citizens to drive a hydrogen car to travel around Europe. That’s their main purpose.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): I’ll ask you something which might be trivial. It’s now possible to implement cylinders to transform a car into an LPG vehicle, can we do the same with hydrogen? Could we insert a system to transform the car?

Nicola Cavedagna (Landi Renzo S.p.A.): That’s our vocation. It’s a bit more complex because natural gas or LPG vehicles have an internal combustion engine. A fuel cell vehicle doesn’t have an internal combustion engine, so it might be more difficult and less ergonomic. We’restudying it, but not in that way. I won’t add more, otherwise I’ll have to kill you. In a way converting existing vehicles into hydrogen vehicles is possible. But they’re not like the ones you mentioned, if your car has a petrol engine, you can’t buy a kit to transform it into a fuel cell vehicle. But we can work something out for conversions.The applications of hydrogen in transports only focus on cars and vehicles originally designed as fuel cell vehicles.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): That’s great. These days the EU and the Commission have launched a strategy on hydrogen and promoted “Hydrogen Day”. We’re talking about it more and more. We’re happy to have FCHgo, which helps to inform people since we don’t really know this technology. At school you don’t study these subjects, people don’t know them and are still afraid…

Nicola Cavedagna (Landi Renzo S.p.A.): It’s important to repeat it again, hydrogen engines are not dangerous, they’re as safe as natural gas and petrol vehicles. That’s a fact, I’m not making this up to advertise my product. It’s a fact. In simple words, when you develop a technology which hasn’t been tested yet, you can’t afford making mistakes. Companies making fuel cell engines always check and check again the safety of their products, if only because it’s an emerging sector and if a hydrogen vehicle blows up, it’s a major problem. Without considering engineering or safety calculations which you do and which are done to show that they’re not dangerous, remember that a budding industry cannot afford such a thing. Their safety levels are even higher than in other solutions.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): It’s important to highlight this, thank you for your explanation because everyone can follow and understand it. Our interview isabout to end. Would you like to add or say something to schools following us and students about possible future opportunities in this sector?

Nicola Cavedagna (Landi Renzo S.p.A.): Study! It’s good for you. I finished my studies back in the time of dinosaurs, but there are new jobs, new fields of interest for students from primary, secondary and high schools. Try to find what you like because if you work and do what you like and if you study to do what you like, you’re not studying or working, you’re always having fun. I’m lucky because I always enjoy what I do at work. It’s a real pleasure.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Thank you for this last message and for your clear explanations. You explained difficult subjects in a clear and accessible way. This really helps us. Thank you again, have a nice day. Thank you for following us!

Nicola Cavedagna (Landi Renzo S.p.A.): Thank you.

 

 

 

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