NTU Ties Up with Austria to Ramp Up Research in Sustainability
Four agreements to bolster sustainability research and to set up joint PhD programmes inked.
Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) efforts to go green received another boost as it enters into new collaborations with four partners from Austria today. The partners are the University of Vienna, the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), the Medical University of Vienna and crystalsol GmbH, an Austrian company that specialises in renewable energy.
The scope of the four Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) ranges from developing innovative and green buildings to printable and flexible solar cells to joint PhD programmes.
The signings were witnessed by Professor Freddy Boey, Deputy President and Provost of NTU, and Dr Michael Häupl, the Governor of Vienna.
Professor Boey said: “NTU is big into sustainability research and we have huge investments in this area. Increasingly research is not just multi-disciplinary but transnational as researchers tap on each other’s strengths across national borders. Our partners in Austria have established reputations in sustainability research and it is natural for NTU to work together with them to synergise our expertise for new breakthroughs.”
Dr Häupl added: “In view of our joint international leadership in the fields of green and smart city technologies and our shared focus on life sciences, the main goal of my current visit is the strengthening of scientific and technological cooperation between Singapore and Vienna. I welcome today’s signing of four memoranda of understanding at Nanyang Technological University as important further steps towards the vision of a long-term strategic partnership between our cities.”
Innovative Green Cities
With the Austrian Institute of Technology, NTU plans to develop a long-term research project in the field of innovative buildings and cities that makes effective use of energy, water and materials. Together, both parties will work on the development of energy-efficient buildings in Singapore’s tropical climate that aims to exceed the “Green Mark Platinum +”, the top category of the country’s building certification standards.
The Building and Construction Authority, an agency under Singapore’s Ministry of National Development and co-signatory to the MOU with the Austrian Institute of Technology, will also undertake study trips to the institute to learn more about building simulation and energy modelling to explore more efficient ways to build high-quality, safe and sustainable buildings.
Next-Generation Solar Cells
In the tie-up with crystalsol GmbH, NTU’s Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) will use its expertise to jointly research into the future of sustainable energy. ERI@N’s key research focus is on alternative sources of energy, its usage and applications, and improving the efficiency of current energy systems. Some of the projects undertaken by ERI@N include researching into energy-efficient cooling and lighting systems for smart buildings, enhancing the power quality of wind and marine energy and greater sunlight harvesting for solar cells.
One project that is in the pipeline is a new generation of low-cost solar cells made of Copper Zinc Tin Selenide (CZTS), which is printable and flexible and can be integrated into windows. The advantage of this technology is that the cells can be coated on large area flexible substrates, such as plastic, therefore enabling the use of solar cell as building façade.
For the solar cell to work, the CZTS crystal needs to be coated with a buffer layer made of Cadmium Sulfide, a light-sensitive chemical used in solar cells which is toxic and poses environmental hazard. The ERI@N team will work with crystalsol GmbH to develop novel buffer materials made of non-toxic element for the CZTS crystal technology. The coating method of the buffer materials will be the first to be implemented on this type of single crystalline solar cell technology.
New Joint PhD Programmes
NTU is collaborating with the Medical University of Vienna to set up new PhD programmes. The new joint PhD programmes will see successful candidates conferred degrees jointly awarded by NTU and the partner university.
Both NTU and the Medical University of Vienna will also look into opportunities for joint research collaborations.
The University of Vienna has also agreed to work with NTU on joint PhD programmes and research collaboration in bionanotechnology. This exciting new discipline is the collaboration between life scientists, physical scientists and engineers to address scientific problems.
This is not NTU’s first collaboration with Austria. In February last year, NTU partnered the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in the areas of nanobiotechnology and energy research. This NTU-AIT-BOKU collaboration has been further boosted by the addition of a fourth partner – Sweden’s Linköping University. This has led to the formation of the Centre for Biomimetic Sensor Science at NTU’s Research TechnoPlaza.
With more than S$830 million in research funding in sustainability alone, NTU is fast becoming a global research powerhouse in environmental technologies. Besides ERI@N, NTU has several other centres engaged in sustainability research, including the Earth Observatory of Singapore, Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute, and the TUM-Create Centre for Electromobility.
Source: Nanyang Technological University