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January 24th 2017

DST and NWO are jointly funding research projects in the area of computational sciences and data sciences in order to encourage the research collaboration between the Netherlands and India. Not only the connection between the two countries but also the connection between both science areas is an important aim of this funding round. The projects focus on the theme of sustainable energy, a very important factor in the development towards a sustainable society. With this call for proposals NWO and DST are focusing on the entire spectrum of energy research, from the generation of sustainable energy and the conversion, storage and transportation of this to the efficient use of energy.

The selection procedures of NWO and DST were carried out independently of each other and both organisations produced a ranking of the project proposals. Based on the combined advice and the funds available, the 'NWO DST Joint Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation' decided to award funding to four projects in the combined ranking. In random order these are: 

Optimised energy harvest and storage using discrete electrolytes
Prof. René van Roij (Utrecht University) and Prof. Balasubramanian Sundaram (Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research)
Ionic liquids (ILs) have unique material properties that in theory make them even more suitable than other electrolytes for energy storage in, for example, solar cells. Unfortunately increased energy density in ILs is associated with dramatically low power density, which cannot be explained with existing theoretical models due to the complex molecular composition. The researchers want to understand the behaviour of ILs better by using a combination of theory and various molecular dynamics simulations for which use will be made of cloud computing.

Design and Synthesis of Novel Catalysts for Energy Applications via Nanoparticle Self-Assembly
Dr Laura Filion (Utrecht University) and Prof. Sudeep Punnathanam (Indian Institute of Science)
This project focuses on catalytic materials that are important for technological developments in, for example, photovoltaic solar cells and fuel cells. The researchers want to design a system of metallic, coated nanoparticles and study how these particles organise themselves in open lattice structures. With the help of computer simulations they hope to realise design rules that make it clear under which conditions the desired open crystals arise and accordingly to make the future experimental realisation of new catalytic materials possible.

Dispersed multiphase flows in sustainable energy conversion processes
Prof. Detlef Lohse (University of Twente) and Prof. Meheboob Alam (Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research)
Turbulent multiphase flows play an important role in many process technology applications in the energy sector. The project team wants to understand this type of flow processes better by using direct numerical simulations and data analysis in three different, complementary model systems of binary mixtures (oil-water mixtures, suspensions of gasses and solid substances, and cloud mixtures of gas and liquid). For two of the three systems the theoretical knowledge gathered can also be tested in experimental research carried out in parallel.

Design of novel nanophotonic and plasmonic structures for improved solar cells using reverse engineering
Prof. Marjolein Dijkstra (Utrecht University) and Prof. Srikanth Sastry (Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research)
Using computer simulations and optimisation algorithms, the researchers want to design new photonic and plasmonic structures that can improve the efficiency of thin-film solar cells. By means of reverse engineering they want to produce nanoscale building blocks that can organise themselves into crystalline structures with the desired photonic and plasmonic properties. The formation of nanostructured materials will be made programmable by using new algorithms for the shape of building blocks and the direction and selectivity of their interactions, for example.

Further information
The call for proposals ‘data-driven science - computational and data sciences - for smart and sustainable energy research’ has been developed in the framework of the bilateral collaboration with the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST). In 2015, the Governing Board of NWO contributed 1.5 million euros for the implementation of this call.

Contact information Jeroen van Houwelingen, +31 30 600 1217