Vici grants for research into revolutionary combustion engine and 2D nanomaterials

Two researchers at TU/e have each been awarded one of the biggest academic grants in the Netherlands to invest in their innovative research on sustainably energy conversion and storage. The 1.5 million euro grants, part of the NWO-Vici programme, go to Jeroen van Oijen, for his work on a pollution-free combustion engine, and to Ageeth Bol, for her work on two-dimensional nanomaterials for sustainable energy storage. The grants are geared towards advanced academics to help build their own research groups.

photo Vincent van den Hoogen

Associate Professor Jeroen van Oijen and his team at the department of Mechanical Engineering will develop a revolutionary combustion engine that converts renewable fuels into clean power. The engine is based on a new technique called the Argon Power Cycle (APC), which uses argon instead of air to burn the fuel. Using argon results in a much higher efficiency than air. As an added bonus, it does not produce harmful nitrogen oxide emissions.

The combustion engine ideally uses hydrogen as a fuel, but also works on biofuels, which means that it can operate during periods when there is no hydrogen available. As the APC engine is closed, the argon doesn’t leave the engine and any CO2 that is produced can be reused, thus making the whole system pollution-free. The APC engine is ideal for use in energy storage. It can convert renewable energy that is stored as hydrogen back into electricity much more efficiently than fuel cells.

Van Oijen is very pleased with the NWO grant. “It allows me and my team to develop the advanced computer models and laser diagnostics that are needed to optimise this sustainable combustion process. And that is great news for the environment!”

Promising new class of nanomaterials

With her NWO-Vici grant, Professor Ageeth Bol at the department of Applied Physics will develop new fabrication schemes for so-called 2D-TMDs (two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides), a promising new class of nanomaterials. Current fabrication methods for 2D-TMDs do not provide sufficient control over the inclusion of defects in these materials. For nanoelectronics, pristine 2D-TMDs without defects are essential, while for application in catalytic reactions associated with energy storage, it is desirable to have defects at specific locations in the materials.

This funding will help address the challenge of controlling and manipulating defects in 2D-TMDs using atomic layer deposition”, says Professor Bol. “We wish to precisely regulate the presence or concentration of defects in 2D-TMDs. This will help to realise the full potential of these materials for use in nanoelectronics, where defects should be absent and as a catalyst in the electrochemical production of H2 for fuel cells via water splitting, where defects are vital.

NWO announced its annual awards of the Vici grants today. Of the 242 applicants 32 academics each received grants of 1.5 million euros. The ‘Vici’s’ are geared towards advanced academics to help build their own research groups. The grant is one of the biggest academic grants in the Netherlands that is awarded to individuals.

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