All Posts in EIT Climate

10th November 2016 - No Comments!

Nuclear fuel concept a winner for EIT InnoEnergy graduate

Nothing tops finishing up your master’s thesis with a feeling of a job well done. Except perhaps making a major discovery AND winning a prestigious award! EIT InnoEnergy MSc EMINE student Alicia Raftery did just that when securing the honourable Sigvard Eklund award for 2016.

The late nuclear physicist Sigvard Eklund dedicated his life to utilising nuclear energy for peaceful purposes – and his foundation carries on that tradition. This year Alicia was one of proud winners receiving their award at the SKC (Swedish Centre for Nuclear Technology) annual symposium in September 2016 in Hindås.

Alicia shares her passion for nuclear energy with us – and how EIT InnoEnergy has been a big part of the picture.

Award-winning idea

Always having an interest in nuclear fuel fabrication, during a 3-week nuclear fuels course at Cadarache (part of her master’s study) it just clicked. She reached out to KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) to obtain a master’s thesis position in their nuclear fuels lab. This hands on experience allowed her to develop this possible new fuel concept – also the theme of her thesis, “Fabrication and Characterization of UN-USix Nuclear Fuel”.

Working closely with KTH PhD student supervisor, Kyle Johnson, she created a composite nuclear fuel of uranium silicide and uranium nitride using a relatively new sintering method called “spark plasma sintering” (SPS). The project was a great success in the fact that a high-density fuel pellet with enhanced thermal conductivity was created, but it also uncovered a new “unknown” ternary phase. “Westinghouse is going forward with the next step of irradiation testing the fuel in the US, putting the fuel in a research reactor to see how it behaves”, explains Alicia.

Kyle submitted her thesis for the award, recognising the significance of the results. “She was an incredibly talented, knowledgeable, and thorough young scientist – who always willing to get her hands dirty (not something just anyone does in a nuclear fuel lab).“

EIT InnoEnergy’s role

Alicia already felt like a winner, having received a scholarship from EIT InnoEnergy for the entirety of her master studies. “The EMINE programme exposed me to a wide network in industry and academia, both in Sweden and France.” Excited to begin her PhD studies in January 2017, she’ll spend the first two years studying in the US and the second two years in Belgium. “I think the high level of education I received in the EMINE program definitely contributed to my acceptance into this PhD position.” 

Onward and upward

She is currently working at the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico, gaining experience at a national lab before going on to graduate school. When asked what the future holds, “I’ve really enjoyed studying in an international environment. I see myself as a project manager on international collaborative projects.” But what continues to drive her passion in the field of nuclear energy? “I consider nuclear energy not only to be the most practical energy solution, but also endlessly interesting. And I am a true victim to the notion that my contributions to nuclear research will make a real difference in the world.” It’s clear to see she is already on her way. Congratulations on the discovery and award!

5th July 2016 - No Comments!

Europe’s largest climate action innovation summer school, the Journey, kicks-off for 2016

More than 220 students from over 45 countries, representing 50 disciplines, will embark on Europe’s largest climate change education programme – the Climate-KIC summer school.

The five week-long course will offer a unique combination of academic study and real-world business experience with the aim of creating the climate change leaders of tomorrow. For first time this year a shorter three-week edition of the Journey has been introduced, which will culminate in an international final in Bologna, Italy.

Encompassing 13 locations across Europe, this year’s programme is Climate-KIC’s largest summer school to date and is divided into six separate groups. Students from each group will journey across two to three different European locations, gaining insight and experience from a selection of Europe’s best universities and most innovative businesses. It brings together students and young professionals all over the world.

The programme culminates in a challenge where students pitch their ideas for solutions to real-world climate related issues. Based on their own creativity and climate change knowledge, students must present a detailed business plan to a judging panel consisting of venture capitalists, start-up entrepreneurs and scientists.

Look back into Journey 2015
Journey 2015 student, Laura Vicini commented, “I think that I have overcome a lot of challenges: from the language to the business’s field. I learnt a lot: from lectures, from the group and about myself. I feel different: I changed my perspective about the future, what to plan and I feel more confident to face problems.” The majority of the students from the 2015 summer school said the programme improved their understanding of the business opportunities resulting from the climate change challenge.

Last year’s summer school student Christina Skjolding Hjelm shares her experience, “We are offered so many opportunities by being part of the Climate-KIC network and it is a very stimulating environment. The Journey is a unique experience and setting and I can’t help feel overwhelmed. We have diverse group both in terms of age, gender, and geographical and academic background. I enjoyed the mix of activities, because we do not only have lectures about climate change and innovation but also coaching, so the five weeks were also a personal journey.”

Follow Journey 2016
Throughout the summer school students will be given a thorough analysis of the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change through academic lessons and practical business and entrepreneurship tasks.

Over the next few weeks, you can find out more about Climate-KIC’s approach and follow the students on the Journey 2016!