The visit was hosted by Professor of Energy Technology Mika Järvinen, who talked about the possibilities presented by future sustainable and renewable energy production.
The Department of Energy Technology has done ground-breaking research on a method that utilises the unique properties of supercritical water. Supercritical water is the fourth phase of water, and occurs when water is exposed to both heat and extremely high pressure. The method makes it possible to completely utilise a variety of biomasses for energy production and as useful by-products.
‘In particular, completely organic biomass can be completely utilised without any extra compounds or waste being left over. As a result, this method has an immense range of possibilities,' says Mika Järvinen.
In its research related to carbon dioxide capture, Järvinen's research group has developed a pilot-size process in which the carbon dioxide from steel slag and smoke gases can be made into valuable crown filler, which is used as a raw material in the paper, plastics, brick and pharmaceutical industries.
‘The great thing is that we can extract valuable minerals from steel industry waste streams that would not normally be utilised and recycle them as industrial raw materials. At the same time, we bind a large amount of carbon dioxide and the process conserves huge amounts of ever decreasing natural resources.'
Mika Järvinen's main energy-related message to possible future researchers and professionals in the Comenius group was clear:
‘Energy efficiency plays a key role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and preventing a rise in the Earth's temperature. This is why energy efficiency has to be improved in buildings and industry as well as in other areas of society.'
Young people have to be made aware of energy consumption – and research
A European Energy Puzzle is a project that aims to provide students with perspective on moving from energy expenditure to energy consumption – as well as attitudes and thinking – that are consistent with sustainable development. Six European countries are involved in the collaboration project: Italy, Spain, Turkey, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands.
At the end of the project, students produce viewpoints on how they can influence their energy consumption and the kind of initiatives that could be made at the national level and in the European Union.
'It's wonderful to be able to tell people about Finnish energy competence. The students learn more about energy issues in different countries in a way that is both useful and fun,' says Pia Närhi from Riihikallio School in Tuusula. She is responsible for the Finnish part of the Comenius project.
Mika Järvinen believes that it's important to tell young people about the research and its nature.
‘Aalto provides the opportunity to research and work on interesting research projects. In addition to being theoretical and computational, the research is also practical, and we often cooperate with companies and other branches of science. This opens up a vast array of possibilities and approaches for researchers.'
More information on the subject is available on the Aalto University website at:
Comenius is the European Union programme for the schools sector. The theme for this year is learning more about energy production and energy issues in different countries. During their visit to Finland, students and teachers became familiar with top energy technology research at different locations.