LOHC and art – a paradox?
February 18, 2020
What are the answers art can provide to one of the most important questions of our time – the realization of a sustainable energy economy? How do innovations change our everyday life? The young artist Jonas Roßmeißl has pursued these questions and has made his perspective tangible by using the toluene-based liquid hydrogen carrier for his artwork. His work is currently on view as part of the exhibition “Verletzbare Subjekte” at the Center for Contemporary Art in Berlin’s Zitadelle.
With deafening noise, the heavy chain of an armoured vehicle is set in motion. Involuntarily some of the visitors put their hands to their ears. The machine causing these noises is located in the middle of a wide room. On the sidewalls there are large marble statues, the brick walls are roughly plastered with white paint. The electric motor that drives the chain lights up blue. It runs unevenly, bumps – as if it were disturbed – over a slab of granite. A transparent yellowish liquid covers the stone. It is the Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier – short: LOHC, from the Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies GmbH.
Jonas Roßmeißl, a young artist from Leipzig, has developed this artwork. The work is part of the exhibition “Verletzbare Subjekte” at the Center for Contemporary Art. How does such an artificial object fit into the framework of this exhibition? What does it even mean to be vulnerable? Vulnerability means “changing the status quo!”, says Jonas. The energy transition has a major impact on our society and will lead to changes. Innovations create movement. According to the artist’s train of thought, these interventions hurt people in their familiar and habitual surroundings and force them to readjust.
Jonas chose the toluene-based oil for this project because this carrier medium does not pose any danger even when loaded with hydrogen, despite its incredibly high energy density, as the substance is not volatile. However, he also points out that some people nevertheless perceive a potential danger in view of the high energy density. “This is also a negotiation process. Do I trust or do I not trust the innovation?“
The LOHC is integrated into the artwork like an infinity fountain: “The oil runs over the plate, is collected in a collection tank and is then injected again with pumps in a ring around the chains.”, explains Jonas. This cycle is reminiscent of the nature of the liquid hydrogen carrier, which can be repeatedly enriched with hydrogen and discharged in a cycle.
The other objects he used for his work also have deeper meanings: The granite slab comes from the large street of the Reichsparteitagsgebäude in Nuremberg and represents the regime of National Socialism and Fascism. The chain that runs on this plate is an iconic representation of military force. The street links to the Nuremberg Fair, which is a symbol of Germany’s diverse global connections. The link between the chain and plate is the LOHC. On the one hand, the LOHC lubricates the slab, on the other hand, the oil makes the chain spin and loses contact with the granite.
Jonas sees in the use of LOHC the potential “to break with many old burdens and structural inscriptions of the economy – also in relation to armed conflicts that still prevail due to the resource oil.“ The LOHC technology builds on old infrastructures, no fossil resources need to be exploited and therefore no military presence is required – it “could be an allegory of new sustainable social and economic visions,” says Jonas.
Therefore, no other carrier material would have been suitable for his project. And Jonas did not have to do without the LOHC at all, because Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies was very glad to support the project. “We are pleased that the energy revolution, as a caesura of several centuries of exploitation of fossil energy sources, moves and occupies large parts of our society. For us as technologists it is exciting to see how the discourse around hydrogen technology can be approached in an artistic and creative way”, says Daniel Teichmann, founder and CEO of Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies.