Empowering Hydrogen Research in the Czech Republic

The 7th International Conference on Hydrogen Technologies took place in Prague in mid-July 2017. But work to bring the conference to Prague started as early as in 2009, when the relatively newly established Czech Hydrogen Technology Platform (HYTEP) decided to bid for the event, with the support of  Prague Convention Bureau. At the time, Professor Dr. Ing. Karel Bouzek became the local ambassador of the conference, and received an award during the annual Ambassador Awards Evening organized by the Bureau.

“Winning the candidacy was quite a challenge but the preparation and organization to meet all the delegates’ expectations was actually much more demanding,” commented Professor Bouzek. “Work on the candidacy was coordinated with a help from the HYTEP for the scientific part and the C-IN PCO together with the Prague Convention Bureau for the organizational part. Hydrogen technologies were in their infancy at that time, and this type of conference had never taken place in Eastern Europe before.”

Long tradition

In reality, research on hydrogen technology has a long tradition in the Czech Republic. Already in the 1960s, the development of alkaline fuel cells had been conducted, even if work in the field was stopped afterwards. It’s only at the start of the new millennium that research began again.“It is worth pointing out that in the Czech Republic, as in the first country of the post-communist block, a bus powered by a hydrogen fuel cell was developed and operated, and a hydrogen filling station was installed, while other projects followed. And today there is an increasing interest both from a commercial and public point of view,” commented Professor Bouzek.

The organisation of the 7th International Conference on Hydrogen Technologies brought international recognition to Prague and the Czech Republic, as the destination hosted one of the world’s most important scientific conferences exclusively dedicated to the topic. In this regard, it helped share knowledge and best practices in the field.

When asked about how delegates perceived the conference Professor Bouzek said “The programme consisted of a number of parallel sesstions covering a wide range of topics. Plenary lectures delivered by prominent personalities from the field of hydrogen technologies were received positively, and a concurrent exhibition awoke great interest among participants and guests, who also enjoyed a great gala dinner in Hergetova cihelna. The surroundings overlooking the Old Town were magnificent. Personally, my biggest surprise came from Japanese participants, who came in great numbers. This says a lot about how much attention Japan puts into hydrogen technologies.”

In the future

Professor Bouzek has been involved in various conference bids for more than twenty years. In 1996, for the first time,he participated in the organization of the 4thEuropean Symposium on Electrochemical Engineering (ESSE). “It was undoubtedly an interesting experience. The evaluation of the documents and all the agenda were still on paper – nothing was done digitally back then! The fact that the conference eventually proved to be successful is evidenced by the fact that it returned to Prague in 2008 (8th ESEE) and then in 2017 (11th ESEE) again,” he says.

In the future, Professor Bouzek is eager to build on the success of the seventh edition of the International Conference on Hydrogen Technologies and apply for the organization of one of the forthcoming World Hydrogen Energy Convention (WHEC). In the meantime, he will continue to organize the now-traditional Hydrogen Days, which will take place for the ninth time in cooperation with the C-IN. “This is a smaller conference. However, we attach considerable importance to it, given the close links between the activities of CEE countries, like the Visegrad Group countries and Ukraine or Romania. The central position of Prague and the Czech Republic calls for building bridges between the West and the East of Europe,” concludes Professor Bouzek.

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