The US Department of Energy has granted DKK 100 million to a new research centre in which researchers from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) will be participating. The Danish researchers will be contributing to the development of new renewable energy technologies in collaboration with Stanford University in California.
By Anne Hansen
In an effort to speed up the development of renewable energy resources, President Obama’s new administration has decided to spend approximately DKK 4.3 billion on the establishment of 46 frontier research centres. The centres will be researching and developing new energy technologies in order to better exploit renewable energy sources such as the sun, water and biomass. Under the leadership of Professor Jens Nørskov from the Department of Physics, the researchers from DTU will be project partners in one of the new centres – Center on Nanostructuring for Efficient Energy Conversion – at Stanford University in California. Thus, the Danish researchers will be receiving a share of the grant of DKK 100 million.
“Jens Nørskov’s centre plays a key role in solving the fundamental problems associated with the more efficient exploitation of renewable energy, and we are very much looking forward to this partnership,” says Stacey Bent, Director of the new centre at Stanford University.
Nanomaterials improve the exploitation of renewable energy
The group from the Department of Physics will be carrying out theoretical characterisations of the properties of materials at the nanoscale. A nanometre is one billionth of a metre, and materials at the nanoscale have other properties that can be utilised to make the use and storage of renewable energy much more efficient. This is a prerequisite if we want to be independent of fossil fuels in future and instead base our energy supply on environmentally friendly energy sources.
“One of the problems today is that we lack efficient methods of storing surplus energy from solar cells and wind turbines,” explains Jens Nørskov, and continues:
“This makes the renewable energy supply unstable and insufficient in some periods. Consequently, if we want a society based on sustainable energy, we need to develop new materials that make it more efficient to convert solar and wind energy into chemical energy in the form of, say, hydrogen or alcohols. Liquid fuels are easy to store and transport to where the energy is needed.”
DTU makes major investment in energy research
The grant from the US Department of Energy arrived shortly after the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation awarded DTU a grant of DKK 120 million for a new research initiative with the same objective as the US programme, i.e. research and development in renewable energy technologies.
This project – Catalysis for Sustainable Energy (CASE) – is also headed by Professor Jens Nørskov, and together the two grants represent a significant investment in energy research at DTU.
“The development of a global renewable energy supply is a huge technological challenge, and it is not our goal at DTU to try to solve the problem alone. But this large grant gives us the opportunity to make a small, but important, contribution to a large joint effort with researchers from all over the world,” says Jens Nørskov.
Read more about DTU’s new research initiative Catalysis for Sustainable Energy
Read more about Stanford University’s Center on Nanostructuring for Efficient Energy Conversion
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