Articles taggés avec ‘Seventh Framework Programme’

EU Funding: Effect of cosmic rays on climate to be quantified

Vendredi 29 août 2008

The EU’s Seventh Framework Programme has granted EUR 2.3 million over the next three years to an experiment that examines the influence of cosmic radiation on the Earth’s climate


 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 New framework programme for research and technology aiming at better exploiting research capacities in Europe and transforming scientific results into new products, processes and services.
 Individual grants for training and career development of researchers


The collaboration, entitled ‘Cosmic rays leaving outdoor droplets - Initial Training Network’ (CLOUD-ITN), began this August and is coordinated by Germany’s Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main. It supports eight PhD and two postdoctoral positions at nine partner institutions across Europe; work will largely be carried out at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN).

The observed climate warming since 1900 is largely attributed to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that are generated by human activity. Changes in solar irradiance are assumed to contribute relatively little to climate change. However, the effects of changes in UV (ultra-violet) radiation or galactic cosmic rays have not yet been quantified. Experiments to be conducted at CERN, a facility that sits astride the Franco-Swiss border, will seek to quantify the interactions of cosmic rays, UV radiation, aerosols and clouds. This in turn should improve our understanding of a so-called ’solar indirect’ contribution to climate change.

Cloud formation is one of the largest uncertainties in the climate change equation. But how do clouds form? When highly energetic galactic cosmic rays (which are generated by supernovas) enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they pull electrons out of the gasses they encounter, leaving a trail of charged molecules (ions) in their wake. New aerosol particles can then form and grow around these ions; water droplets use these particles as ‘condensation nuclei’ to form a cloud.

The CLOUD collaboration has developed an aerosol chamber which, when exposed to an elementary particle beam, can simulate the effects of cosmic rays on aerosol and cloud formation. The first prototype was developed in 2006 and the new, improved chamber will be used to carry out experiments on ion-induced nucleation and ion-aerosol interaction. This will lead to an improved understanding of the mechanisms of cloud formation.

The cloud chamber is a stainless-steel construction which measures 3m by 3.7m and is filled with all of the components thought to make up a cloud (air, water vapour, trace amounts of gases). These are continuously analysed with myriad analysing instruments. One of the analysers is a chemical ion mass spectrometer that can measure sulphuric acid concentrations at less than 0.1 parts per trillion; CLOUD is one of only three groups in the world that operates such an instrument. Galactic cosmic rays are simulated by a Proton Synchrotron accelerator.

The current prototype (called Mk2) will be used to carry out a broad range of important physics experiments over the next few years, after which it will be replaced by a final CLOUD facility that incorporates performance improvements and a newly developed aerosol pressure chamber.

The CLOUD-ITN project provides funds for eight PhD candidates to carry out work and write their theses on this research. A comprehensive training programme for the PhD candidates and postdoctoral fellows has been set up, featuring annual summer schools and workshops on topics such as aerosol chemistry and physics, ion-induced aerosol nucleation and the influence of galactic cosmic rays on the climate in the past. The first summer school took place at Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station, Finland, this August.

All of the analysing instruments are provided by the partner institutes and supported by national funding agencies. Project participants include CERN, the Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland), the Universities of Helsinki (Finland), Leeds (UK), Reading (UK) and Vienna (Austria), the Institute for Tropospheric Research in Leipzig (Germany) and Ionicon Analytik in Innsbruck, Austria. The University of Lisbon in Portugal and the Institute for Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy in Sofia, Bulgaria have recently joined the collaboration. Russia’s Lebedev Physical Institute has also been awarded a research grant to support CLOUD activities by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) under the CERN-RFBR agreement on scientific cooperation.

The design manpower for the CLOUD Mk2 facility is provided by PSI, CERN and the University of Lisbon. The construction costs of the CLOUD Mk2 facility will be paid from a common fund shared among the partner institutes and by in-kind contributions.


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EU Funding: Europe to be in a pole position for the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Race

Vendredi 30 mai 2008

The future of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies in Europe is on its way. The Council adopted today the regulation setting up the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking

This public-private joint technology initiative (JTI) will implement the EU target-oriented research and development to support the broad market introduction of these technologies. Founding members are the European Community and a non-profit association of European industry interests composed of a major share of Europe’s fuel cells and hydrogen companies of all sizes from micro to large multinationals. The Commission is expected to fund 470 M€ from the Seventh Framework Programme for a period of six years which will be at least matched by industry contributions. The first calls for proposals are expected to be published after this summer. The official celebration of the launch will be at the JTI’s first Stakeholders’ General Assembly the 14 and 15 of October this year in Brussels.

The main goal of the JTI is to speed up the development of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies in Europe and enable their commercialisation between 2010 and 2020. The partnership will implement an integrated and efficient programme of basic and applied research and technology development activities, demonstration and support actions focused on the most promising applications. The JTI will ensure coordination of activities at European level in order to maximise synergies with Member States and regional programmes.

Scenario analysis, undertaken in the EU-funded project “HyWAYS” indicates that hydrogen, if introduced with suitable policy measures, could reduce the total oil consumption by the road transport sector by 40% between now and 2050. Furthermore, by 2050, CO2 savings from road transport of up to 50% compared to peak levels are possible. Comparing overall spending for hydrogen production, supply and vehicles with the savings to be gained from replacing conventional fuel and conventional vehicles over time, the break-even point could be most likely reached between 2025 and 2035. Nevertheless European Industry needs additional stimulation to invest in the technology of hydrogen and fuel cells.

The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen JTI is the culmination of a 6-year effort involving the main stakeholders in the sector. It started in October 2002 with the establishment of the High Level Group for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies. They developed a common and collective “vision” on the contribution that these technologies could make to the realisation of sustainable energy systems in the future. The industry-led European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform launched in June 2003 followed this path and developed the main strategic documents for Europe and assisted the Commission in the preparation of the JTI.

The legal entity, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, will be led by a Governing Board. Daily management and operations will be the responsibility of an Executive Director supported by the Programme Office with its seat in Brussels. A Scientific Committee composed of high level personalities will advise the Governing Board. The Member States will closely follow the activities via the States Representatives Group. The Stakeholders’ General Assembly will be held on an annual basis and be open to all public and private stakeholders to stimulate a dynamic debate and information exchange on ongoing and future activities.

Press room - European Commission