Olvido Irrazábal Moreda

PhD student in hydrogen storage

One day, I was skimming through the newspaper, when I saw a picture of a polar bear standing in a tiny ice platform and surrounded by water. At that time, I was in the middle of my chemistry degree and found, right there and then, the path I was going to take: I wanted to change the world by fighting climate change.

I was coming a long way. I have always been very artistic and creative so I first studied a degree in graphic design. After this, I did a bachelor’s in chemistry, while I worked in a multinational ticketing company, where I eventually became a project manager. However, that was not fulfilling enough, so after my master’s I decided to pursue my scientific career full time.

Today I am searching for ways to transport and store hydrogen in a sustainable and safe way, so that it becomes a real energy alternative in commercial applications. I really hope that my research will contribute to save this world. My PhD is a project of the Christian Albrecht University of Kiel, Germany, Hydrogenious Liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC) Technologies, and the ESRF’s ID31.

I love it here. Research is challenging and exciting for restless minds like mine and at the same time, it has a creative element to it that makes it the perfect job for me. As it turns out, my artistic skills have come in handy: I had to build a 2-litre catalytic reactor for the dehydrogenation reaction needed for X-ray diffraction studies. In order to show the sample environment team what I needed, I made my own prototype at home using aluminium foil… you have to start somewhere!

I think scientists in academia need to work together with industry if we want to see science advance. The InnovaXN programme offers the perfect platform for it and I will love to see my ideas contribute to real-life applications one day.

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