Over the next few decades we will have to take giant leaps forward in the field of energy technology and high tech systems, especially in the development of clean technology for energy conversion and storage as an alternative to fossil fuels. To realize these developments new expertise has to be developed in the area of heat and flow technology. The Energy Technology and Fluid Dynamics research group's objective is to give its students a solid grounding in these areas so that as the engineers and scientists of the future they will be well equipped to deal with technological and scientific challenges.
The group’s focus is on transferring and applying fundamental knowledge in the field of energy technology and high tech systems. That means that the degree program focuses on core skills like applied mathematics, physical modeling of flows and heat transfer, and skills in the area of simulating and experimentation in the context of energy technology and high tech systems. But the program also leaves room for learning to apply these core skills in practice, e.g. in lab sessions and internships. In our group students are free to choose whether they want the degree program to lean towards fundamental skills or rather more towards application-oriented components.
Our students are equipped with a broad basis of scientific and technological skills in the area of of energy technology and high tech systems. Alumni possess universal skills in the areas of experimentation, modeling and simulation- valuable qualities that can be used also outside the domain of energy technology. For example, alumni can apply their knowledge and skills in multidisciplinary teams.
The scientific and technological challenges in the areas of energy technology and high-tech systems are huge. So there is strong demand for young, talented engineers and scientists with a background in these areas. In order to deal with the challenges, both fundamental and application-oriented developments are necessary. If there is one single discipline where as an engineer or scientists you can make a difference for the future, it is in the field of energy technology and high-tech systems.
I deliberately chose to gain experience in industry already during my Master Sustainable Energy Technology, because that practical experience was lacking in my Bachelor. I did my graduation project with ENGIE. That was such a success for both parties that they hired me as an energy consultant immediately after I graduated.
What always attracted me in the Energy Technology and Fluid Dynamics research group was the broadness of the subjects: from heat transfer to fluid dynamics and everything in between. You get very broad training as an engineer with great expertise in energy technology. This turns out to be very useful in my present-day job.
During my graduation project I investigated the combination of an air heat pump with a storage tank containing Phase Change Materials (PCMs). Conventional heat pumps have the disadvantage that they don't perform that well at low temperatures. In my research, I demonstrated that a combination of a heat pump with PCMs can indeed have considerable savings, both in energy and (to a lesser extent) also in costs.
As an energy consultant, I work with various kinds of energy on a daily basis. I investigate for customers whether energy savings are possible. I also advise companies that want to do renovations or develop an entire new residential area. If you get involved at the start of a project with smart solutions for energy generation, you can solve problems right away. It's really great that I can now use all the theory I have learned at the TU/e to help ENGIE customers. So all the hard work really pays off!
What I like so much about this research group is that you can work on highly relevant social issues. It is fascinating to contribute to developments in society. Inventions from our research group can truly make a difference in tomorrow's world. The Energy Technology and Fluid Dynamics research group collaborates with industry extensively, both in the region and far beyond. There is broad interest from the market for the types of research that are being performed in our group. In many cases, we work in so-called Joint Industry Projects. Over the past few years I have been involved in hydraulic fracturing: a technology used to extract oil and gas by fraccing rock deep down in the earth. With the discussion about gas extraction in Groningen in mind, this is an interesting, but also controversial subject. That makes it even more important to learn more about this technology, because not that much is known about the possible consequences of fraccing. After all, you cannot see what is going on three kilometers deep down. By developing new computational models we gain more insight in the fracture process and its possible consequences. My research is part of a much larger project in which not only the TU/e is involved, but also Utrecht and Delft University, as well as several companies. This multidisciplinary team is studying fraccing from many perspectives, from potential consequences on a distance of a few meters to the effects on the earth's crust itself. It is very inspiring to work together, both with the research groups from other universities and different companies. I feel I should mention that our research is always leading. I recently obtained my PhD, and I'm now working as a post-doctoral researcher. Academia is the place for me!