New Dutch energy systems research institute launched


The new Eindhoven Institute for Renewable Energy Systems (EIRES) is developing smart solutions for energy storage and conversion.

EIRES, at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), has been formed to address challenges being posed by the energy transition in the Netherlands and globally, the organisation says in a statement. The initial investment is €10 million over the next five years.

“As a university, we take our responsibility to contribute to the energy transition,” said TU/e president Robert-Jan Smits at the virtual opening on August 31. “We have excellent researchers in the field of energy storage and conversion, among other things. Moreover, the Brainport Regio Eindhoven has a fantastic high-tech and manufacturing industry that can help with the energy transition. We are joining these forces in this new institute.”

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Richard van de Sanden, group leader of the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research and a Professor in the Department of Applied Physics of TU/e, is the scientific director of EIRES.

Mark Boneschanscher, an energy researcher at TU/e who also serves as general secretary of the Netherlands Energy Research Alliance, is the managing director.

Energy systems research programmes

EIRES has four research programmes under development in chemistry and engineering for sustainable energy systems, systems for sustainable heat and systems integration.

The Dutch Electrolyzer consortium is one of the initiatives in the chemistry focus. Its aim is to set up the first production line in the Netherlands for electrolyzers for the conversion of electricity into hydrogen. The consortium is working on small-scale modular devices with easy production scale-up, which can be installed in local neighbourhoods or on individual wind turbines.

The development of an innovative salt-based battery to store renewable energy in an inexpensive and lossless way is another project. The intent is to support long term storage such as over winter months when there is little or no energy from the sun or wind. The expected lifetime of the battery is 20 years.

An example of another storage project is on the use of iron powder to store sustainable energy. Iron powder emits heat and is converted into rust when burned. The heat can be used to generate steam, which can power industrial processes or drive steam turbines for electricity. The remaining rust can easily be captured and converted back to iron powder using electricity from wind or solar, thus offering a cyclical process.

TU/e expects to attract four new professors and eleven new senior lecturers to EIRES over the next five years.