Flemish Minister of Innovation Hilde Crevits (CD&V) is investing EUR 120 million in labs, research centers, test environments and other research equipment throughout Flanders. “We realize too little how many groundbreaking innovations and research are happening in right in front of our eyes,” said Minister Crevits.
Hasselt University can count on 4.56 million euros for three different projects. That Flemish subsidy covers 75 percent of the total investment cost.
For example, on the campus of Hasselt University in Diepenbeek a ‘Green Hydrogen Lab’ will be built. Chemists, physicists and engineers will work together on research on how to make and use hydrogen in a CO₂-neutral way.
“Hydrogen is essential to make our energy transition more sustainable. Today, most of the hydrogen is still made from natural gas. But fossil fuels are running out and a lot of CO₂ is released during this chemical process,” explains initiator Professor Dr Marlies Van Bael.
To turn that ‘gray’ hydrogen into ‘green’ hydrogen, you can replace natural gas with water. “Using renewable energy, which you can produce with sunlight, you can split water into hydrogen and oxygen in a sustainable way via electrolysis. This is how you get green hydrogen. We look for the ideal material that can efficiently split the water during this electrolysis process and material that extracts the right amount of energy from the sunlight for this splitting process. We are also investigating how we can react green hydrogen with CO₂ to create new chemical building blocks or energy carriers for the industry.
The Institute for Materials Research (IMO) can use this lab to produce and validate the materials on a larger scale in the conditions requested by the industry today. “This means that our research can be commercialized more quickly by the industry ,” says Professor Van Bael.
Minister Crevits is also investing 3 million euros in a hydrogen project by Imec and VITO that is being carried out within the Energyville research center at Thor Park in Genk.
More than 2.4 million euros will go to the establishment of the ‘Remote Clinical Monitoring Center’, which will be located on the Health Campus in Diepenbeek. “The aim is to bring our research into remote monitoring of, among other things, high-risk pregnancies or heart and COVID 19 patients even more into practice, by bringing all medical and technical expertise together in one center. This is unique in Flanders and also has the full support of the Minister of Welfare Wouter Beke,” says Dean of Medicine and Life Sciences professor Dr Piet Stinissen.
Hasselt University is already working closely with the Jessa Hospital (Hasselt hospital), the ZOL (Genk Hospital) and LRM (Limburg investment company) for this research. “This collaboration will soon be extended to the Limburg general practitioners. This way we contribute to improving the quality of our healthcare. We also create new jobs thanks to the cross-fertilization on our campus with young start-ups, from which new spin-offs can arise.”
Digitization of Flemish industry
Finally, Hasselt University’s Expertise Center for Digital Media (EDM) may develop a platform for demonstrators and prototypes around visualization and interaction technologies that can be applied in companies. “Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality are useful technologies to manage work environments or to train new employees”, explains EDM Director Professor Dr Frank Van Reeth.
There is a huge variety of hardware and software available for developing these types of systems. In addition, the interaction equipment is evolving very quickly. “That makes it time-consuming for many companies to design, develop, test and select suitable solutions. Before a company invests in this type of technology, its feasibility and deployability must be proven. In our new demonstration center we want to guide and advise the companies in this.”
Source: Het Belang van Limburg