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NTU energy research center seals partnership with top European universities at its opening

Tue, 06/15/2010 - 6:25am
EurekAlert

Six top European universities today signed partnership agreements with Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) to do joint research in clean energy at the official opening of the S$200m institute by Mr S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State for Trade & Industry and Education.

The six universities are University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, Technical University Munich (TUM), Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Austrian Institute of Technology and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Switzerland.

Besides academic collaborations, ERI@N has also forged close partnership with leading industry players including Robert Bosch, Vestas, Rolls-Royce, and Det Norske Veritas.

With the global importance of energy research, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) formed ERI@N last year to spearhead the university's research efforts in this area.

The institute will advance research aimed at improving efficiency of current energy systems while maximising synergistic effects of alternative energy sources. Its seven-member international Advisory Board is chaired by Professor Michael Grätzel, who has just won the 2010 Millennium Technology Prize in Finland. Professor Gratzel, who also works on fuel cells and batteries, developed dye-sensitised solar cells or "Gratzel cells" which provides a more affordable way of harnessing solar energy, a boon to the large-scale use of renewable energy.

Supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), the National Research Foundation (NRF), the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), other agencies and the industry, ERI@N has already secured funding of S$200m. More than 60 researchers are tackling the most challenging questions in sustainable energies and energy efficiency and this will grow to about 250 scientists by 2013.

Supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), the National Research Foundation (NRF), the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), other agencies and the industry, ERI@N has already secured funding of S$200m.

The keen interest by the six world ranking universities to jointly conduct clean energy research is a testimony of NTU's global standing in sustainability research, one of the university's key focus areas.

Under the collaborations, ERI@N and the six partner universities will jointly conduct research and development (R&D) in clean technology and environmental sustainability and nurture manpower capabilities for the clean energy industry.

The research will focus on the areas of Energy Materials, Smart Grids, Solar Energy, Sustainable Buildings, Wind Energy, and Electromobility and will enable ERI@N to establish a global footprint of research excellence and value creation.

"Sustainability and energy research are key thrusts for NTU. ERI@N serves as the pan-university strategic platform that brings together all of NTU's energy research activities into a coherent whole. Besides looking into technological solutions, ERI@N also studies the environmental impact, as well as business and economic models, legislation and societal acceptance for its projects. It is truly a multi-disciplinary centre that links all the Colleges within NTU in energy research," said NTU Provost, Professor Bertil Andersson.

"I am pleased that although ERI@N is so new, it is able to attract the world's top universities as research partners. With our combined strengths, I am confident that we will make much progress in the field and fuel the growth in this sector, adding to Singapore's economy," added Professor Andersson.

Commenting on the significance of these partnerships for Singapore, Dr Beh Swan Gin, EDB Managing Director, said: "The establishment of ERI@N will boost our efforts to develop the Cleantech cluster as a key growth area for Singapore. It will harness existing strengths in electronics, mechanical engineering and materials, to develop new energy-related R&D capabilities. Through partnerships with companies and academic institutions, ERI@N will serve as an important multiplier for clean energy research, innovation and commercialisation in Singapore."

Singapore has identified the Cleantech industry as a strategic growth area for its economy. The government has committed nearly S$700m to build a clean technology ecosystem over five years as part of the nation's plan to become a global research and development hub. By 2015, the Cleantech industry is expected to contribute S$3.4 billion to Singapore's gross domestic product with up to 18,000 jobs.

Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, Executive Director of ERI@N, said: "Partnering with global leaders in energy research enables ERI@N to accelerate research in areas that contribute significantly to our sustainable development. More importantly, these projects will allow Singapore to be a test-bed to develop export-ready solutions. As a research-based university, our students will have the opportunity to hone their skills in sustainability and adopt a life-long mindset to prioritise the sustainable earth ideal throughout their careers."

Just last week, NRF signed a partnership with TUM, Germany's top engineering university, to conduct research on electromobility in megacities. To be carried out by ERI@N and the German university, the research will be on energy storage, electric-car technology and electric vehicle systems analysis. Director of TUM-CREATE programme on Electromobility, Prof Markus Waechter said, "TUM-CREATE set up in collaboration with NTU will be a model for a unique partnership between top universities in Germany and Singapore in developing electric vehicle solutions for the tropics. The 85 PhD students jointly trained between TUM and NTU as part of our joint-PHD program will generate unique electromobility solutions for tropical megacities and will groom future leaders and talents able to exploit e-car technologies in Singapore and beyond."

In conjunction with the official opening of ERI@N, the Second Annual Workshop on Energy Research will be held from 15 to 16 June 2010. The event provides a platform for researchers to exchange ideas and explore collaborative opportunities.

Renowned speakers such as Professor James Barber FRS and Professor Bill Lee from Imperial College London, United Kingdom; Professor Gehan Amaratunga from University of Cambridge; Professor Jong Hyun Kim from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology; and Professor Ashok Gadgil from University of California, Berkeley will be addressing the local and international audience during the workshop.

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