The Costa Rican scientist and former astronaut Franklin Chang Díaz made a 420-kilometer road trip this week, with a vehicle charged exclusively with green hydrogen. This technology is based on 100% renewable energy produced in Costa Rica, and does not generate carbon emissions to the environment.
“We are making history. This is what gives us energy independence”, said Chang Díaz who, since 2005, when he retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), investigates ways to replace fossil fuels. “This is energy produced by ourselves, this is what we are going for, it is the future”, added researcher Norberto Arce, who accompanied him on the journey.
Both subjected a Toyota Mirai car to a round trip from the Liberia area, in the province of Guanacaste, to the capital San José, and even had 84 km of autonomy to spare. With the experiment, Chang sought to demonstrate that green hydrogen has the same or greater efficiency than the hydrogen known as “gray” or “blue”, which, although it is more environmentally friendly than gasoline or diesel, still uses a certain percentage of fossil fuels.
Chang is the only Costa Rican who has traveled to space and founded As Astra Rocket Company to bring the VASIMR plasma engine to life, in conjunction with NASA. However, as the years went by, he was also busy looking for clean and cheaper alternatives for the growing automotive fleet in Costa Rica, which increased 60% in 10 years.
All the ideal conditions
According to the latest vehicle census in the country, carried out by the State of the Nation program, in 2019, there were 1.7 million vehicles for 5 million inhabitants, making Costa Rica the third country in Latin America with the highest density of vehicles . “Costa Rica has all the ideal conditions for this to be done: we have a lot of sun, a lot of wind, enough water and those are the necessary ingredients to produce hydrogen”, Chang had said in an interview in 2019.
His projects accompany the National Decarbonization Plan, with which the Government seeks to make the country the first in Latin America to completely eliminate its carbon emissions by 2050.