Hydrogen is an abundant resource that can be produced from a variety of conventional and renewable energies. However, its storage requires large, high-pressure vessels which can cause safety problems as they can easily explode.
© Fotolia, 2012
The €2,467,170 Marie Curie Actions (MCAs) Training Network: Complex Solid State Reactions for Energy Efficient Hydrogen Storage (COSY) which ran from November 2006 to October 2010 aimed at solving this problem. It focused on characterising and optimising novel light weight hydride composites which have the required high storage capacity for hydrogen.
COSY comprised 13 research institutions from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom and was coordinated by Dr. Klaus Taube from Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht in Germany. The project's results form the basis for the further optimisation of such materials for mobile hydrogen storage applications, such as tanks for emission-free cars.
The network offered training and research experience to young researchers by giving them the opportunity to spend three years in a foreign country during their studies as part of an international high-quality research project. The grants under the programme were thus essential to attract only the best talent from across the world and encouraged mobility. In addition, a detailed career development plan including an exchange programme between the partners was a significant part of the work contract for each position.
In total, COSY trained 13 early stage researchers (ESRs) and 5 experienced researchers (ERs). Real progress in the field of hydrogen storage in Reactive Hydride Composites was achieved by breaking the traditional academic mould. The programme educated a new breed of experts who worked across a myriad of disciplines. "This was achieved by an unprecedented interdisciplinary training programme comprising experimental physicists, chemists and materials scientists, surface chemists and computational materials science experts," says Dr Taube.
In addition, the network not only opened up possibilities for researchers in the EU member states, but also for those from associated member states and non-European countries such as Brazil, Japan and Nigeria, adding a truly international dimension to proceedings.
The young researchers of the COSY network participated in some 83 workshops and conferences. They also presented or were co-authors at 23 conferences, 55 workshops and 5 other meetings. Meanwhile, 7 training workshops took place in various key locations across the network.
Showing signs of great initiative, the COSY fellows themselves organised 3 Young Researchers Workshops in order to discuss their scientific work, improve their presentation and discussion techniques, and add to their knowledge of energy-related topics. Finally, 14 joint publications of the COSY partners were published during the project, with 28 appearing in top tier journals.
The Marie Curie experience has benefited the vast majority of those involved. "Several fellows have gone on to hold various postdoc positions in respected institutions such as the Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht Centre for Materials and Coastal Research and the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Germany. Others have taken up various high-level positions at universities across Europe," says Taube.