Future Energy – a research profile in energy sciences



Mälardalen University's (MDH) new research profile in energy sciences, called Future Energy, is to develop renewable energy systems in cooperation with five companies. Altogether the Knowledge Foundation, MDH and the companies are investing 83 million SEK in this research environment that includes over 50 researchers.

Future Energy is a seven-year research profile that started in the beginning of 2013 and is included in the  Future Energy Center at Mälardalen University. The project budget is 83 million SEK, of which the has granted 36 million SEK, the cooperating companies have contributed 32 million, and MDH provide the rest of the funding. The profile will strengthen cooperation in the Mälardalen region: these areas constitute national industries for the future which already have a strong base today in the region, and there is also a large commercial interest.

This research environment includes over 50 researchers and PhD students.

The research profile will focus on meeting future changes in energy systems by increasing and streamlining the share of renewable energy in the form of biogas, solar energy and biowaste. The goal is to create an internationally competitive research environment with a focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency and minimisation of emissions.

Projects within the profile will deal with how renewable energy can be extracted from for example algae and bacteria, how the energy systems of the future are to be designed, and how the use of renewable energy in society at large can become as efficient as possible.

The participating companies are ABB , VAFAB Miljö , Eskilstuna Energi och Miljö , Mälarenergi and Castellum .

Targets of the research profile

The following specific targets to be developed in the Future Energy profile toward 2019 are:

  • To pursue fundamental new understanding of materials and processes in energy, chemistry and biology that may revolutionize or transform future energy technologies, usually focused on scientific showstoppers;
  • To develop theoretical tools for guiding pre-experiment discovery and modelling by converting and turning complex models, e.g. computational fluid dynamics (CFD) or statistical models, into robust and simplified ones for simulation, optimisation and control purposes;
  • To create benchmark component combinations for enabling technologies, optimise prototype performance and to explore the feasibility of scaling up into industrial applications for solar PV systems, waste and water treatment, biogas production, high temperature gasification, and combined heat and power production and other industrial processes.

Three tracks

Three key tracks in the Future Energy are:

  1. Track 1: Renewable energy
  2. Track 2: Energy efficiency and emissions mitigation
  3. Track 3: Simulation and Optimization for Future Industrial Applications

Track 1: Renewable energy

The specific goal of Track 1, Renewable Energy, is to better understand the scientific knowledge underlying the renewable resources, conversion process and integrated systems so that those knowledge can be redesigned, improved and used to develop novel, efficient renewable technologies that can be replicated on a mass scale for industrial and applications. Biomass and bioenergy and solar energy are main focused areas. In biomass and bioenergy, studies will be conducted on biogas and other biofuels, biomass gasification, and biomass poly-generation systems. In solar energy, grid and off-grid solar PV technologies, integrated PV buildings and integration of the PV power production with matching the users needs etc. will be investigated.

Track Leader: Prof.   Eva Thorin

Track 2: Energy Efficiency and emission mitigation

The goal with Track 2, Energy Efficiency and Emission Mitigation, is to understand how new technologies could be integrated in the energy system in order to increase efficiency and reduce emissions. A very important project is the introduction of PV-system in the Swedish energy system. The track also investigates development of innovative energy market functions in order to reduce barriers for introduction of technologies and services. Further the tracks deals with development of climate mitigations technologies.

Track Leader: Dr  Fredrik Wallin

Track 3: Simulation and Optimization for Future Industrial Applications 

The goal with Track 3 is to develop new mathematical methods for model-based diagnostics, decision support, optimization and control. Different simulation tools like Modelica, ASPEN as well as causality tools like Bayesian nets, CFD tools like ANSYS and soft-sensors built on e.g. NIR and RF are used in combination to develop new systems for optimization and control. These will be tested and used in cooperation with our industrial partners for applications in power plants and process industries like pulp and paper, waste water treatment, biogas production, combined gasification and CHP and metal industry like roll-mills and manufacturing industries.

Track Leader: Prof. Konstantinos Kyprianidis