Water – the fountainhead of all life
Water is the fountainhead of all life on earth and its mainstay. In organisms, it is involved in virtually all metabolic processes, and in all geological and ecological processes on our planet. Water is closely connected to the history, economy and culture of human civilization. It permeates religions, philosophy, science, medicine, art and many other areas of life, and plays the principal role in agriculture, forestry and the energy sector.
Water – fascination and significance for present and future
The origin of water on the Earth, first and foremost the question as to why significantly more water occurs here than on the other planets, has not been satisfactorily clarified to this day. Water is unique in being the only chemical compound found on earth that exists in nature in all three physical states – as a liquid, a solid body (ice) and a gas (water vapor). Voith has always worked with all three, with its power plants on rivers, lakes and in high snow-capped mountain ranges, as well as in drive technology on land and on water. The fascination with water and its significance knows no limits: without rain there would be no supplies of drinking water, no agriculture, no bodies of water with fish for food, no rivers for transporting freight, no industry. Water is precious and it cannot be taken for granted. From the time nomads started to become settled to the high cultures of antiquity, through the medieval period to modernity, there has been a perennial conflict between too much and too little water. Too much means disastrous flooding, too little triggers life-threatening drought. This danger is nowhere near being eliminated. Although the greater part of the Earth’s surface is covered with water (71 percent), only 3.5 percent of that figure is fresh water. Indeed, most of that can be found in the form of ice at the poles, in glaciers and permafrost. This means that it is not readily available as drinking water.
The second challenge of the present day and for the future is humanity’s insatiable hunger for energy that is having disastrous consequences for the climate. Renewable energies are one so lution. Alongside solar and wind energy, hydropower is by far the largest and oldest, yet most reliable, form of renewable energy generation. All around the world, it makes an indispensable contribution to stable electricity supplies and thus to economic and social progress – in industrial countries and strongly growing regions alike. In addition, hydropower makes a significant contribution to climate friendly energy production. Ever since the early days of hydropower, Voith has been a leading provider of the necessary technology, constantly implementing refinements.
The potential afforded by the properties of water have yet to be fully exploited. New concepts, such as one for a hydrogen economy, are being explored around the world. While, in chemical terms, hydrogen is actually a primary energy source, it practically never occurs in nature in free form, but first has to be extracted by means of other energy sources. Wind energy, photovoltaics and solar thermal power plants could be considered, and experiments are also being conducted with biomass. Is hydrogen the energy carrier of the future that will be fed into the energy cycle?
Hydrogen – energy source of the future?
The Earth needs a shift in energy and transportation policies. Since the 1980s, many researchers and scientists have seen hydrogen as the energy source of the future. It is used in industry for a wide range of processes. First and foremost in hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicles. The most important market at the moment is China. A large quantity of hydrogen is required that is stored at high pressure in suitable containers. To meet current market demands, new container concepts, process cycles and material systems have to be developed. Voith Compositesand HRC, one of the leading suppliers of fiber composite lightweight solutions, are planning to join forces to work on the next generation of high-pressure hydrogen vessels for fuelcell electric vehicles (FCEVs). They currently constitute one of the largest cost factors. Read more...