Energy & Environment Engineering
Radical new thinking on the way we generate, store and use energy. Devices collecting solar energy by mimicking photosynthesis, batteries which last longer. The future’s more than just solar, wind and hydro power, as Europe does its bit to protect the planet
Explore other themes of FET research
Stories in Energy & Environment
Programming the forces of evolution
Robots can utilise computational natural selection to boost experimental power and avoid hours of trial and error
The revolution of plantoids
Robots are usually inspired by humans and animals. But the very last frontier is the ‘plantoids’ – plant robots able to move and explore the environment with their smart sensors. Their ‘mother’ is researcher Barbara Mazzolai
FET People: Martina Szopek and Vaios Papaspyros on the use of AI to protect species
Robotic spies among bees
Research projects in this field
The goal of the subCULTron project is the development of three types of robots, to be distributed in the Venice lagoon. Besides monitoring the water, the robots will learn how to cooperate with each other and how to react to the environment. This is expected to lead to significant improvements in the field of artificial intelligence.
The DIACAT project aims at using man-made diamonds and light to enable conversion of CO2 into useful chemicals and futuristic fuels. This technology would be able to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and allow scientists to recycle the carbon dioxide produced by the combustion of current fuels.
The ASSISIbf projects aims to apply artificial intelligence to the study of animal behaviour. This is done by developing small robotic animals which integrate in societies of bees and fishes. The ultimate goal is to find new ways to protect endangered species and the environment.
The project HELENIC-REF aims to establish a new and sustainable methodology for creating fuel cells fit for mass production. They will do so by synthesizing, simulating and characterizing the different possible nanopowders that can be used to create the thick catalytic films normally used in fuel cells. Afterwards, they will look at the feasibility of scaling them up through a pilot plant study.
The flora robotica project targets to develop and investigate closely linked symbiotic relationships between robots and natural plants and to explore the potentials of a plant-robot society able to produce architectural artifacts (e.g., walls, roofs, benches) and living spaces, providing functionality such as shade, air quality control, and stress relief. The project assembles a highly cross disciplinary team drawn from the fields of Computer Science, Robotics, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Zoology, Advanced Mechatronics & Environmental Sensing and Architecture.
The PLANTOID project designed and developed a number of innovative robots and ICT technologies directly inspired by the roots of plants. These robotic roots are equipped with sensors monitoring the environment and giving inputs to let them decide how to move into the soil. This technology may find applications in soil analysis, agriculture, medicine and space exploration.
The GrowBot project wishes to develop robots that imitate the behaviour of climbing plants using ICT technologies. They adapt their movements based on external environmental conditions and grow accordingly using additive manufacturing processes. This technology may find applications related to energy efficiency and harvesting.