Skip to main content

Three Tampere University researchers win competitive academy research fellowships in natural sciences and engineering

Published on 3.6.2021
Tampere University
The Academy of Finland’s Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering has granted funding for 22 new academy research fellows, among them Associate Professor (tenure track) Chao He, Assistant Professor (tenure track) Taneli Riihonen and Academy Postdoctoral Researcher Hao Zeng at Tampere University.

The funding awarded to the new academy research fellows totals approximately €10 million. Women represent 18% of the grant recipients and 22% of all applicants.

The academy research fellows will receive funding for setting up a research group and covering other research costs and their salary costs. The Research Council for Natural Sciences and Engineering has earmarked close to €9 million towards the research costs of the newly appointed academy research fellows over the next five years.

While reviewing grant applications, the Research Council placed a particular emphasis on the applicants’ personal competence and the scientific quality of the proposed research.

High-quality nutrients and fuel recovered from sewage sludge

Chao He (Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences) will undertake a research project titled Integrated hydrothermal carbonization and chemical looping gasification system for resource recovery from sewage sludge towards carbon neutrality and pollutants mitigation (HTC-CLG).

To speed up the transition to a circular economy and carbon-neutrality, we need environmentally friendly processes for converting waste streams into valuable chemicals and fuels in order to reduce our carbon footprint.   

In Chao He’s project, municipal sewage sludge will be converted into recyclable high-quality nutrient products and pure synthetic fuel gas using a new catalytic thermochemical process. The goal is to develop an integrated thermochemical system that is optimised based on catalyst design, chemical reactions, process control and integration.

The system could be applied to treat different biomass waste streams with a high moisture and nitrogen content. In addition, the process can open up new opportunities for exploiting carbon resources. The project supports the transition to a sustainable, carbon-neutral society and resource-efficient economy.

Exploring the potential uses of multifunctional radios in new applications

Taneli Riihonen (Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences) will carry out a project titled Multifunctional Radios in Radio-Frequency Systems’ Convergence.

Radio-frequency (RF) systems are converging in terms of spectrum allocations, equipment and waveforms towards united applications where each radio’s operation is defined by programming software and firmware only. To fully harness the benefits of this so-called RF convergence, the emerging general-purpose multifunctional radio devices need to be capable of in-band full-duplex (IBFD), meaning the same-frequency simultaneous transmission and reception (SF-STAR). For instance, a united cellular base station and radar could be transmitting shared downlink communication and radar waveforms while simultaneously receiving signal reflections to sense its surroundings.

The project will investigate how to achieve IBFD/SF-STAR capability for multifunctional radios under self-interference and how to exploit them in new RF convergence applications, such as in joint radar sensing and wireless communication at millimetre-wave frequencies.

Developing a light-controlled flying robot

Hao Zeng’s project is titled Flying Aero-robots based on Light Responsive Materials Assembly (FAIRY).
A fairy is a mythical creature with magical powers. The FAIRY project is carried out to bring fairies to life by creating the world’s first small-scale flying robot that is built from smart materials and can be driven using light energy.

The results will open up new avenues of research in materials science and advance the development of innovative small-scale robotic devices. Flying can be seen everywhere in nature; dandelion seeds are carried along by the wind, birds fly, squirrels leap from the tree to tree, and even some species of fish are able to propel themselves out of the water and glide through the air.

The main challenge lies in manufacturing aircraft wings that interact with air flow and are powerful enough to propel a robot through the air. To complete the ambitious project, the researchers will also have to pay close attention to aerodynamics and rethink the design of robots.

The Academy of Finland’s press release dated 3 June 2021