Danes plan to train ‘power-to-x(perts)’

Frede Blaabjerg (l.) and Tejs Vegge (r.), CAPeX co-leads.

Denmark’s Pioneer Centre for Accelerating P2X Materials Discovery (CAPeX) has launched plans to train at least 100 PhDs and postdocs over the next decade.

The Pioneer Centre, a new initiative of the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and Aalborg University, has launched the CAPeX Academy with the aim to educate around 50 PhD students and 50 postdocs for the power-to-x industry over the centre’s lifetime.

The partners believe that as the power-to-x industry is starting to boom, there is a need for a much larger number of experts in this field than currently and that they will especially need multiple interdisciplinary competences.

Tejs Vegge, professor at DTU and a co-lead of CAPeX, says these are the experts who will carry the research forward as well as the industrial development of the new technologies for power-to-x.

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“If you look at the new materials and green technologies that we’re beginning to be able to develop now, they will need to be increased more than a thousandfold to have a global impact. This means that there must be researchers who can, for example, develop more efficient catalysts as well as people working in the industry who can produce them faster and cheaper than today.”

Frede Blaabjerg, professor at Aalborg University and the second co-lead of CAPeX, adds that it isn’t enough to ‘simply’ design the world’s best catalyst and it’s also necessary to ensure sustainable and scalable production to meet global challenges.

“This requires new ways of thinking, and these are the type of experts we want to help train.”

While The CAPeX centre is based in Denmark, close collaboration is being initiated with international universities, including Stanford in the US, the University of Toronto in Canada and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, which will enable researchers and Academy participants also to obtain access to equipment and expertise in those locations.

Exchanges also are planned both of Danish students externally and vice versa.

Pioneer Centre for power-to-x

The CAPeX was launched by the two universities in December to bring together their expertise and competencies and those of other local universities to develop new materials and technologies for power-to-x.

Currently, the most efficient materials used today to produce hydrogen using electrolysis are based on rare minerals and earths. One of the main challenges for CAPeX is to develop new sustainable catalysts for electrolysis that can be scaled and deployed globally.

The Centre also will focus on sustainable solutions for e.g. heavy transport and aviation.

A key basis of this research will be digital twins which will enable the design, test and analysis of new materials, cells and systems before they are manufactured, making it possible to predict how materials and systems change their properties and behaviour from the atomic level right up to optimising an energy island.

The Centre was established with a has a total grant of DKK300 million (US$43 million) from the Ministry of Higher Education and Science and five Danish foundations.

Other participants in CAPeX are the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and the University of Southern Denmark.

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