Energy carriers: what they are, and why they are the future

When we talk about energy carriers, we are referring to means, or better still, compounds, which are responsible for transferring energy from one form to another: we are therefore talking about simple energy transfer and not also about energy production, as is the case with primary energy sources, for example. Here’s what to know about it, the difference with primary energy sources and more!

What is meant by energy carrier?

An energy carrier is a compound capable of transferring energy: in other words, it allows energy from an external energy source, whether primary or secondary, to be stored and transferred over time, then released at the appropriate time. How is this possible? Because of its physical and chemical characteristics, which facilitate energy transfer. Moreover, according to the laws of thermodynamics, during the process of transferring and storing energy in an energy carrier, there is always a partial loss of the initial energy.

The energy carrier and the primary energy source

There is a fundamental difference to be taken into account when talking about energy carriers and primary energy sources. The former is only concerned with the transfer of energy and must be produced from a primary energy source; it can also be stored for later use according to demand. The second is a naturally occurring energy source whose use does not necessarily require transformation into another form of energy. Examples of primary energy sources are oil, renewable energy sources (wind, solar, water, etc.), biomass and nuclear energy, all of which can be used from the moment they are collected.

Why is hydrogen considered an energy carrier?

Also known as the ‘fuel of the stars’, as it is their main constituent, hydrogen is the first and lightest chemical element in the periodic table, and is also a fuel with a high energy density. Hydrogen is mistakenly regarded as an energy source: in reality, it is a chemical energy carrier, which is produced by consuming energy and is then able to transfer energy in molecular form. Hydrogen is now being relied upon to meet the challenges and difficulties of climate change, as it can store and supply large amounts of energy per unit mass without generating CO₂ emissions during combustion, thus facilitating the global energy transition from fossil to renewable sources, and is also very flexible in use. Although it is the simplest and most abundant element on our planet, it is rarely available in a free, molecular state (H2), as it is often present in combination with other chemical elements. Because of its innate characteristics, therefore, hydrogen represents a promising solution for creating a sustainable energy supply chain and for boosting energy efficiency in both private buildings and industrial plants.

Just in this field, IBT Group is developing with its partners, Capstone Green Energy and Century Corporation, plants and products to use this energy vector of high potential, using the most innovative technologies and always taking care to protect the environment in respect of our planet, for a unique saving both in economic and energy terms.