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22-02-2017 | © picture and illustration: Utrecht University, The Netherlands 3 mins read

Controlled catalysis for ultra-clean fuels

Catalysts are essential for a lot of chemical production processes, accelerating and enhancing chemical reactions to produce plastics, medicines and fuels more efficiently. Now, thanks to EU-funded research, catalysts are being made more precise and effective with potentially significant benefits for industry and the environment, not least through the development of ultra-clean fuels.

18-03-2016 | © picture 2 mins read

How do stressed plants affect climate change?

Plants form a key interface between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere by exchanging carbon, water and energy with their environment. They also release chemicals called “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs) in the atmosphere. However, the overall impact of these gas compounds is poorly understood. Ülo Niinemets and his team look at the role of plants in large-scale Earth processes and how they affect air quality and the Earth surface temperature, solar radiation and precipitation.

19-08-2015 | © picture 2 mins read

China and the Historical Sociology of Empire

How can we explain the continuity of Chinese empires? Dr Hilde De Weerdt with her project "Chinese Empire" revisits this big question in world history.

23-04-2015 | Image: © 3 mins read

What cosmic rays tell us about thunderstorms on Earth

When Prof. Heino Falcke obtained an ERC grant to study and identify the sources of ultra-high energy cosmic rays, back in 2008, he could not imagine that his research would provide an important clue to better understand lightning and thunderclouds much closer to us. His team indeed realized that cosmic rays, originating in outer space and striking the Earth from all directions, can provide a near instantaneous 'picture' of the electric fields in clouds. The unexpected finding, to be published this week in Physical Review Letters, is the result of a fruitful collaboration between astronomers, particle physicists and geophysicists. The measurements were performed with the LOFAR radio telescope, located in the Netherlands, and partly funded by the ERC.