How Twente may lead the fight against global heating

(a thread on Mastodon U. Twente)

I signed the Klimaatbrief Universiteiten. Our university does not have an ambitious climate agenda. A common approach among universities is lacking. With this letter, we call upon university management to develop and implement policies to drastically reduce the universities’ carbon emissions.

Frankly speaking, the policies that this letter calls for should not be controversial at all. Universities have a moral duty to work on the big problems of the world, and a duty to advance approaches that may solve these problems. In fact, the University of Twente can build a campus that is CO2 neutral now. Let me give a few examples.

Let’s build, on campus, the state-of-the-art wind mills that use generators developed at the University of Twente. The superconductors developed by Marc Dhallé and colleagues, Lighter windmills thanks to superconductivity, replace the heavy magnets inside the generators of conventional wind mills. As a result, the weight and size of the new generator is significantly reduced while at the same time, it is capable of delivering the same output power. Another advantage is the minimal use of rare earth metals.

Let’s put solar panels on every roof and turn everyday objects on campus into solar panels using luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) photovoltaic technologies that Angèle Reinders and colleagues experiment with. The typical material properties of LSCs — low cost, colorful, bendable, and transparency — offer a lot of design freedom.

Let’s use the additional energy generated on campus to generate solar fuels. This involves the direct conversion of energy from sunlight into a usable fuel (in this case, hydrogen). Using only earth-abundant materials, Han Gardeniers, Jurriaan Huskens and colleagues developed the most efficient conversion method to date: UT boosts efficiency of solar fuels.

The high school children that are on strike for the climate now will be our future students. Let’s give them the world — and the campus — they protested for.