During lockdown, BRISK2 has been speaking to Work Package Leaders for their reflections on BRISK2 and the future of renewable energy. PhD candidate Christos Tsekos, from TU Delft in the Netherlands, shared his thoughts with us.
My work at TU Delft
I work within the Process and Energy Department of the Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering Faculty (3mE). The department focuses on the design, modelling and experimental validation of thermal energy conversion and energy storage systems. My area of research is thermochemical biomass conversion which includes the fast pyrolysis and gasification of second and third generation biofuels.
More broadly speaking, TU Delft works with gasification, pyrolysis, biomass feedstock characterisation and analysis, biomass pre-treatment, third generation biomass feedstocks, chemicals production, biorefineries and energy storage.
The importance of BRISK2
I really enjoy working on BRISK2. The most important thing about BRISK2 is the fact that you have leading European research infrastructures helping researchers to advance their work by sharing facilities. This is unique. Transnational access visitors use facilities because their home institutes do not have a particular piece of equipment or lab and they also use it for direct knowledge transfer. I find accommodating needs in such a direct way is wonderful and rewarding. On a personal level, BRISK2 has helped me to expand my horizons, see how other institutes and countries work and I also have a better picture of how things work in the world of academia.
BRISK2 and the development of protocols
Interacting with BRISK2 partners has been very fruitful too. Especially regarding the development of protocols, standards and practices for experimentation, and for modelling and analyses. I have been impressed with the knowledge gained and how it is so well consolidated. A good example of protocol development has come from the results of a round robin involving seven partners. The protocol that was developed was for thermographic kinetics analysis and experimental and modelling aspects. This round robin also resulted in a publication. So apart from accommodating transnational access researchers, BRISK2 has helped biofuels science move forward. Each partner has a deliverable that is connected to other deliverables and these supplements are based on a partner’s strength.
There are definitely further discoveries to be made, for example in making biofuels processes more sustainable, especially from an economic point of view. In terms of science, we are on the right track. I think the most important breakthrough is how society perceives biofuels and renewable energy. Often when society really wants to see change, that when a breakthrough comes. We then have a feedback loop: society, science and then breakthrough happens everywhere.
BRISK2 has given us opportunities to explore the potential of protein-based biomass in the energy sector and the project broadens our professional network. At WUR, we are developing different biorefinery strategies to get the most out of complex biomass. We share these biorefinery tools and then we develop them further. BRISK2 has allowed us to deepen our knowledge on the protein biorefinery approach by taking into consideration the specificity of each biomass selected. Furthermore, the knowledge we acquired is indeed a step forward to finding a unified biorefinery process that can be extrapolated to any type of biomass involved.
Seize the opportunities BRISK2 offers
Some transnational access research trips have had to be postponed because of COVID-19 and these will need to be rearranged. However I would urge researchers to keep looking for opportunities, to make plans, and consider applying to do a trip if it would benefit their work.
BRISK2 is the best opportunity if you need expertise or facilities, so make the most of it.