Description of impactThe cornerstones of the EU energy policy as described in Energy and Climate roadmaps 20301 and 20502 are energy efficiency, use of renewable energy, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable energy production and use is a global grand challenge. However, many components needed for future sustainable energy systems based on renewable energy generation contain toxic or rare raw materials, which may be difficult to recycle after the useful life of the device, that is, the desired sustainable energy system would be based on unsustainable use of raw materials.
The objective of our research is to improve the sustainability of raw material use in renewable energy and energy storage applications by improving the durability of the state-of-the-art components and by substituting toxic or rare raw materials with harmless and abundant ones. Moreover, we attempt to design the materials and components to be fully recyclable according to the principles of the circular economy (CE). Target application areas are in electrochemical energy conversion (batteries, water electrolysis, fuel cells) and thermoelectric devices.
The societal impact can be classified as: 1) new material and manufacturing innovations for industry, 2) education of high-quality professionals, and 3) raising topics for public debate. All these impacts are based on fundamental scientific research comprising computational material modelling and experimental studies. The first impact is evidenced by joint innovations patented by companies like Toyota Motor Corporation and Kemira Inc.; the second impact by the fact that our graduated doctoral students are employed by both large corporations and innovative small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and third, consultations with different government Ministries and active debate in social media (Twitter, Facebook).
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