Feature Story Clean Energy & Ocean Solutions Finance

Technologies with the Power to Change Our Lives for the Better

September 10, 2020
Technologies with the Power to Change Our Lives for the Better Key visual image

In these uncertain times, when we aren’t quite sure what the future will bring, we find ourselves turning to technology to envision a brighter, more resilient future.

We do this because technological advancements in fields like mobility, energy and materials have the incredible ability to change our world for the better.
This makes the pursuit of innovation in these areas, both big and small, crucially important. After all, today’s emerging technologies could one day offer vital solutions to some of the greatest issues facing humankind.

Follow along as we examine how some of Hanwha’s latest technologies and initiatives are addressing the challenges of tomorrow, today.

Making Mobility More Efficient

Using urban air mobility solutions (UAM) and electic vehicles, Hanwha is rewriting how we get from point A to point B.

Imagine how much easier commuting to work would be if you could skip the daily grind of dealing with traffic jams and public transit by hailing an air taxi instead – one that takes you comfortably to the office in minutes.

Recent advancements in technologies like urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles and autonomous cars are bringing us closer to revolutionizing commuting as we know it. In a world where 68% of the population is expected to live in urban areas by the year 2050, seamless solutions like these will become increasingly important.

Lightening the Load

Once electric vehicles (EVs) officially replace internal combustion engine vehicles as king of the road, residents of crowded cities will enjoy clearer skies and cleaner air.

Ensuring that eco-friendly EVs offer the most efficient ride possible will require the development of materials that are both lightweight and durable. The key benefit here is that making EVs lighter helps offset the weight of the vehicles’ power systems, allowing them to consume less energy during acceleration, and travel greater distances between charges.

With a wide-ranging portfolio that includes GMTs (Glass Fiber Mat Reinforced Thermoplastics), LWRTs (Low Weight Reinforced Thermoplastics), and SMCs (Sheet Molding Compounds), Hanwha is leading the fast-paced automotive lightweight materials market with technologies that will enable the EVs of the future to take you safely and smoothly wherever you need to go.

Getting Air Taxis Ready for Takeoff

In the future, as cities become more crowded, traffic, noise and air pollution will inevitably increase.

One way to help alleviate these issues and make city life more efficient is by shifting transportation away from busy streets and into the skies. Urban air mobility solutions like electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles make this possible by making the flying car of the future a reality. Once they’re deployed in cities around the world, fleets of eVTOLs will transport countless passengers to their destinations quickly, quietly, and without harming the environment.

Hanwha is bringing us closer to experiencing safe, quiet and eco-friendly eVTOLs by advancing projects like the Butterfly. Under its current specifications, this one-of-a-kind UAM solution will be capable of comfortably transporting four passengers and one pilot distances in excess of 100 km, at airspeeds of up to 240 km/h.

Advancing Eco-Friendly Energy and Materials

Eco-friendly bioplastics, green hydrogen energy, and improved solar storage is how Hanwha will upgrade our energy and materials.

We all want future generations to be able to live in a world where the air is fresh, and cities are spotless. Advancing technologies that will help bolster energy efficiency, also known as the Fifth Fuel, will be key to making the world of the future a greener place.

We can reach this goal by taking steps to make renewable energy sources like hydrogen more eco-friendly, improving the efficiency of technologies like energy storage systems (ESS), and making plastics safer for the environment.

The Hydrogen Solution

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the only byproduct of powering the countless vehicles, buildings and devices that we interact with every day was the most natural of all substances: water? Hydrogen fuel cells, which produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen atoms, make this possible.

What makes hydrogen so exciting as a potential energy source of the future is its sheer versatility. Hydrogen energy is so versatile that it can be blended into the networks that power our homes and commercial buildings, or used as fuel in industries that have limited low-carbon options available, such as shipping and aviation.

However, because the traditional process for collecting hydrogen, known as steam methane reforming (SMR), results in large quantities of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, establishing hydrogen as a viable source of clean energy will ultimately require its production methods to become greener. The key to achieving this lies in advancing so-called “green” hydrogen. Unlike “gray” hydrogen, which is produced using carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels like oil and coal, green hydrogen is produced by utilizing renewable, emissions-free energy sources like solar power.

One way that Hanwha is advancing green hydrogen production is by innovating with a process known as water electrolysis. Put simply, water electrolysis involves passing an electric current through water to separate it into its two base elements: hydrogen and oxygen. Hanwha is currently developing its own water electrolysis technology, which generates an electric current without any harmful emissions, producing only clean, green hydrogen energy. It’s all part of Hanwha’s plan to create a complete value chain for the green hydrogen industry – one that encompasses everything from production to storage, delivery, and utilization.

To help make green hydrogen storage safer and more efficient, Hanwha has developed its own TYPE-4 high-pressure hydrogen fuel tanks, which utilize an ultralight composite material that combines a carbon fiber composite with a high-density polymer liner. Emissions-free and easy to replace and maintain, these ultralight tanks could play an integral role in advancing hydrogen fuel cell technology’s commercialization.

By making hydrogen production and storage safer for the environment, Hanwha is setting the stage for renewable energy to play a larger role in powering the cities of the future.

Rethinking Solar Storage

Clean, safe and limitless, solar power could be a game-changer in the fight against climate change. Before we can tap the technology’s true potential, however, we’ll need to develop systems that allow solar energy to be stored and managed more efficiently.

To help pave the way for solar to be applied to more aspects of our lives, Hanwha has been advancing the development of energy storage systems (ESS) and energy management systems (EMS) that will enable stored solar energy to be utilized more effectively.

By providing total energy solutions, including everything from solar panels and ESS to EMS, Q CELLS, one of Hanwha’s affiliate companies, is poised to emerge as a leader in the global distributed energy market. In Australia, Hanwha has invested AU$5 million in SwitchDin, a distributed energy management software company. In addition, in the U.S., Hanwha has signed an agreement to acquire a 100% stake in the San Francisco-based energy storage solutions company Growing Energy Labs, Inc. (Geli) to provide customers with optimized energy management solutions.

Furthermore, Q CELLS and Hyundai Motor Group recently signed a memorandum of understanding for joint R&D of cost-efficient energy storage systems based on second-life batteries from electric vehicles. Advancing technologies like these will help compensate for the intermittency that comes with renewable energy generation, and lead solar power systems to become more stable and reliable.

Building Better Bioplastics

In a world that’s producing approximately 300 million tons of plastic waste each year, bioplastics have the potential to transform recycling – a pressing issue both today and going forward.

Bioplastics are plastics that are produced not with petroleum but with biomass – organic materials that come from plants and animals. Not only is biomass sustainable, it can be created from a variety of sources, and emissions related to its production are significantly low. Making bioplastics more versatile and sustainable will help pave the way for more eco-friendly products to find their way into our homes, and result in less traditional plastic polluting the environment.

Hanwha is advancing these efforts by spearheading the development of biodegradable polyester polymers that decompose harmlessly in soil and seawater. The company is also actively expanding applications for bioplastics by developing bio-based synthetic polymers that can be used in everything from textiles and packaging to automotive and electronic materials.

The Next Phase for Financial Services

For Hanwha, the future of fintech and insurtech is streamlined, intuitive, and customer-first.

Much like mobility, energy and materials, financial services are in the midst of an exciting evolution.

Financial technology, or fintech, is changing the paradigm in the financial sector by adding speed, security and seamlessness to everything from mobile payments to insurance. Big Data and AI have played an important role in the digitization of many of the fintech services that we rely on every day, and will be key to offering consumers more personalized and convenient experiences in the near future.

Extracting Value from Data

As we advance further into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, our ability to control the vast amount of data we produce and share will become vitally important. One way that governments like those in the EU, U.K. and Australia are tackling this issue is by taking part in something called the MyData initiative. The goal of the initiative is to make it easier for individuals to access their personal data and utilize it as they see fit. MyData can help simplify transactions in numerous industries, but it is particularly convenient in the financial sector.

As you read this, financial institutions the world over are exploring ways to utilize MyData to offer consumers useful and differentiated services. The initiative is already making it easier for individuals to keep track of various financial data, including transactions that would otherwise be scattered across banks, insurance companies, and securities firms. Securities firms, especially, have become key proponents of the initiative, as being able to access and analyze this collected data will allow them to offer their customers more personalized and insightful investment advice.

In the end, advancing MyData and maximizing its benefits will require more accurate and robust Big Data analysis. Hanwha’s Data Analytics Lab was created to find new ways to put that data to good use. This Big Data analysis unit is tasked with exploring exciting applications for data across various fields – applications that could potentially be developed into services that support a wide variety of seamless experiences.

Simplifying Insurance with AI

The introduction of AI-powered services has been a game-changer for a wide range of industries, especially insurance. Enhancing key platforms with data-driven AI software has allowed insurance companies to make their services faster and more efficient, and led to the development of a new wave of time-saving and intuitive fintech known as insurtech (insurance technology).

Soon, AI-driven insurtech like the Hanwha-developed AOS Alpha will change how insurance payments are calculated and processed. Developed in collaboration with the Korea Insurance Development Institute, AOS Alpha can accurately estimate the cost of repairs for damaged cars by analyzing images of the vehicles and comparing them against an ever-increasing library of datasets. The ultimate goal for the platform is to set a standard for repair costs that’s both fair and accurate.

The company has also developed a first-of-its-kind AI-driven insurance claim review system that can automatically make decisions on whether to provide insurance payments to users. When the system was first introduced, it marked the first time in the industry that a cloud-based platform was utilized for real-time insurance claim analysis. The system’s accuracy is constantly improving thanks to an ever-growing library of datasets that currently includes over 11 million insurance claims.

Looking Ahead

At the end of the day, no one really knows what the future will bring. What we can be sure of, however, is that furthering innovation in areas like energy and mobility will be key to addressing the challenges of tomorrow, and will allow us to create a more convenient and sustainable world for future generations.