DTU professorship for top researcher from Stanford University

Wednesday 10 Jan 18


Jens Kehlet Nørskov
DTU Physics
+45 45 25 38 18
A EUR 3.8 million (DKK 28 million) grant from VILLUM FONDEN has made it possible to create a Villum Kann Rasmussen professorship at DTU for the leading international catalysis researcher Jens Kehlet Nørskov.

Currently employed at Stanford University, Jens Kehlet Nørskov has established himself as the world’s leading researcher within theoretical catalysis. Catalysis refers to the technology used to control chemical processes and is the cornerstone of the majority of all chemical production. It is a key research field today, because it plays a crucial role in the development of new sustainable technologies for tomorrow’s production of fuels and chemicals.

VILLUM FONDEN is very pleased that we—thanks to this Villum Kann Rasmussen professorship at DTU—can contribute to realizing this unique opportunity for attracting a researcher of the highest international calibre to Denmark,” says Jens Kann-Rasmussen, Chair of VILLUM FONDEN.

“We rarely give this type of grants, and only when the opportunity arises to attract an extraordinary researcher to a Danish university. Jens Kehlet Nørskov already has an impressive scientific track record, and we are convinced that Jens can continue his excellent research and develop a permanent research environment at DTU that will produce world-class results for many years to come,” says Jens Kann-Rasmussen.

In his new professorship, Jens Kehlet Nørskov will be heading up a major energy research initiative at DTU. This includes establishing a new centre for catalysis theory and collaboration, which will include both research, business partnerships, and teaching students. Jens Kehlet Nørskov will also be in charge of a large European research initiative within sustainable energy production. The initiative is a natural extension of the work carried out at the VILLUM Center for the Science of Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals, which was established at DTU in 2016.

Strengthened energy research

With the appointment of Jens Kehlet Nørskov, DTU will fortify its current position within energy research, which—in addition to catalysis—comprises research into wind energy, energy conversion, energy storage, and energy systems. Thanks to its high share of power generation from renewable energy sources, Denmark enjoys a unique position in terms of demonstrating future energy systems.

“The new centre will allow DTU to accelerate its research within energy and solutions for storage and transport of solar and wind energy, among other things. It will be a significant contribution to ensuring the green transition in Denmark and in Danish companies,” says Rasmus Larsen, Executive Vice President, Provost, DTU.

Electricity from solar and wind power can now be produced in a financially sustainable way and can contribute to the conversion. But storing and transporting energy still pose a challenge. Here, catalytic processes may play a key role. They can be used to produce sustainable fuels by means of water, carbon dioxide, and electricity from renewable energy sources—artificial petrol, which may replace the current fossil fuels.

At DTU, Jens Kehlet Nørskov will continue his research in catalysts.

“The problem is that today we don’t have catalysts effective enough to convert solar energy into fuels. We need completely new types of materials that can catalyse these processes. In my research, we use quantum physical calculation methods on supercomputers to simulate the processes, and the methods are now so advanced that they can be used to design new catalytic materials,” says Jens Kehlet Nørskov.

Jens Kehlet Nørskov has previously been employed at DTU, but was headhunted by Stanford University in 2010 to establish a research centre within catalysis and energy conversion.

“We will of course continue the close cooperation I have established at Stanford, as we have created a very efficient research axis between California and Denmark within this area,” says Jens Kehlet Nørskov.

The grant from VILLUM FONDEN will be anchored at DTU Physics, DTU Chemistry, and DTU Energy, all of which will be involved in the new centre for catalysis theory.

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