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ASATRYAN Gayane    Laureate of the German call
Home institution : Australia, University of Queensland
Project : Paleogene Polar Plankton and Productivity (the P4 Project)
Host institution : Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz-Institut für
Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung, Berlin

Virtually all carbon dioxide (CO2) released to the atmosphere is eventually removed by the ocean’s phytoplankton, which capture it as living tissues (organic carbon or skeletal materials) in the sunlit surface oceans; then when the plankton cells die and sink, export it into the deep ocean and ocean bottom sediments. This process, called the ocean carbon pump, is the only significant planetary long-term (centuries or longer) removal mechanism for CO2, as other forms of capture (e.g. land vegetation) only store carbon as long as the vegetation grows. Polar phytoplankton, particularly the silica-shelled diatoms, are particularly important in the carbon pump. The species dominating pump activity are mostly cold water forms and may become less effective, or in part even go extinct, if ocean waters warm to levels predicted by global warming climate models, thus damaging the pump and worsening global warming. The only analogs to such a future warm polar ocean are however found only in the distant geologic past, e.g. in the warm Eocene period, shortly before the oceans cooled into the following glacial Oligocene period. The project will clarify how polar plankton, the carbon pump, and climate change interact via an integrated study across the Eocene-Oligocene boundary. Our goals are 1) to better understand how changes in oceanography and plankton evolution, particularly in polar regions, contributed, via changes in global ocean productivity and the earth’s carbon cycle, to the dramatic cooling of global climate during this time interval; 2) to characterize how polar ocean productivity and the carbon pump functioned in the warm, high atmospheric pCO2 world, and 3) to identify environmental controls on silica-shelled plankton evolution and biodiversity, particularly extinction risks in plankton associated with major climate change. Our study uniquely blends paleoclimate and paleobiodiversity methods to understand the joint climate-biotic system. It also uniquely focusses on the most direct records of these events – the plankton and deep-sea sediments in polar regions, although we also include geochemical proxies of ocean conditions from low latitude regions, and syntheses of published global deep-sea sediment data. Diatoms are targeted but we also use radiolarians as these are well preserved, species rich, and highly sensitive to ocean conditions in both polar and tropical regions, including water depth specific marker species. Methods include tracing polar water mass development and intermediate water depth export of nutrients from poles to low latitude upwelling systems; global syntheses of ocean productivity via biogenic opal and carbonate export rates in ocean sediments; standard geochemical proxies (stable isotopes, element ratios) of ocean water conditions in both low and high latitudes; and biodiversity surveys of diatom and radiolarian biotas over time. Innovative technical tools will be used in the project, including advanced 3-D microimaging for radiolarian species taxonomy, “big-data” syntheses of global ocean sediment export via integration of global community science databases (Pangea, NSB), and ocean circulation models to place our data in a meaningful global oceanic context.


BALAJI Venkatramani  Laureate of the French call
Home institution : USA, Princeton
Project : HRMES – High-resolution Modeling of the Earth System
Host institution : Laboratoire des sciences du climat et de l’environnement, Saclay

Project Hermès has the key aim of addressing sources of uncertainty in our understanding of the Earth system and its variability and evolution under changes in external forcings. The uncertainty comes from our inability to resolve key processes relevant to climate: principally the role of clouds, but we hypothesize that similar approaches can be applied in the ocean for key mixing processes that are also below the current resolution threshold. The project can be summarized as follows: Conduct very high-resolution simulations of key processes in the atmosphere and oceans which are below the threshold available in global models today. Such simulations will be at the limit of capability on todays computing technology. Given trends in computational technology, use these simulations to build and train fast approximate models of the Earth system, to explore uncertainties in the system using ensembles that are beyond possibility with the full model.


BALLANTYNE Ashley Laureate of the French call
Home institution : USA, University of Montana
Project : POMELO – Testing processes in Earth System Models with global satellite and atmospheric observations
Host institution : Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, Saclay

One of the largest sources of uncertainty for climate predictions is due to carbon-climate feedbacks in Earth System Models (ESMs), where some ESMs indicate that land carbon (C) sinks will persist and others indicate that they may become C sources. For this reason the World Climate Research Program has identified carbon-feedbacks in the climate system as one of their grand challenges. To address this challenge, we have proposed three specific research objectives within the Process Oriented Model Evaluation- Linked to Observations (POMELO) project. (R1) We will combine satellite observations and atmospheric observations to resolve Net C Exchange (NEE) into its key processes of gross primary productivity and total ecosystem respiration (NEE=GPP-TER) to test their sensitivity to climate. (R2) To better diagnose processes leading to biased estimates of C turnover times in ESMs, we will evaluate how well ESMs perform at reproducing 14C tracers in Earths atmosphere, biosphere, and ocean to constrain turnover times of anthropogenic carbon. (R3) We will also evaluate stomatal response to changes in climate and CO2 in ESM simulations. It is apparent that ESMs use different stomatal functions in predicting vegetation response to changes in atmospheric CO2 and H2O vapor, which results in different rates of C uptake. All analyses in R1-R3 will be compared to the latest ESM simulations made available through the 6th Climate Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). By accomplishing these short-term research objectives, we wish to promote the long term goal of process oriented global model evaluation linked to global C cycle observations-POMELO.


CADIAU Amandine  Laureate of the French call
Home institution : Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Project : APPAT – Discovery of new fluorinated MOFs for toxic gas capture, conversion/degradation into valuable fuel
Host institution : Institut Charles Gerhardt, Montpellier

Air quality is a must and becomes a major concern in our modern society. There is a wide array of hazardous pollutants (NOx, SOx, COx…) that provokes severe health issues and death in Europe. The only plausible solution for air purification is air filtration using adsorbents. Unfortunately, the standard adsorbents (carbons, zeolites) are nowadays largely inefficient because of their non-selectivity, difficult recyclability and no catalytic activity at ambient conditions. The aim of this project is to design a series of highly chemically stable hybrid porous materials, i.e. Fluorinated Metal Organic Frameworks (FMOFs) integrating the functionalities required to capture the most dangerous toxic gases (NOx, SOx and COx) and degrade/transform them into valuable fuel or inert gas. The targeted FMOFs will be constructed from cations with high oxidation states and organic linker displaying high pKa values (azolates) to ensure high stability toward toxic gas and (ii) incorporate chemical (Lewis acid sites or redox active cations)/structural features to selectively adsorb the gases at ppm level and further convert them into valuable fuels or non-toxic molecules. This ambitious project requires to venture into frontier materials chemistry/engineering and to develop an innovative experimental/computational strategy. Propitiously, the transferability of such a concept at the industrial level offers a remarkable ground-breaking solution for our modern society to address the major issue of climate change and to promote a new source of green energy and/or chemicals. These objectives fit with the two priority axes of MOPGA call, i.e. “Climate Change and “Energetic Transition The central component of ACROSS will be a comprehensive summertime field study with many instruments for the measurement of primary and secondary constituents. Measurements will be made from research aircraft, a tower located in a forest, tethered balloons, and mobile platforms. Observations from the field study will be analyzed in a variety of ways involving statistical approaches and comparisons with different types of numerical models. The results of the campaign will be widely disseminated through presentations and peer-reviewed publications. Significant broader impacts are expected including training of students, public outreach, and providing useful information to policymakers.


CANTRELL Christopher Laureate of the French call
Home institution : USA, University Colorado Boulder
Project : ACROSS – Atmospheric ChemistRy Of the Suburban foreSt
Host institution : Laboratoire Interuniversitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques, Créteil

Humans have recognized for a long time that their air can become contaminated through natural and non- natural events. The problem became particularly apparent as people moved into large cities where the high population density exacerbated the pollution associated with home heating and industry. Awareness became particularly acute when thousands of people died in a few days from severe episodes.In recent decades, significant progress has been made understanding the causes and impacts of urban air pollution, and generally urban air quality has improved through enhanced knowledge and regulatory action. While significant numbers of people still die prematurely each year from air pollution, progress continues to be made. Scientific investigation has exposed the processes by which primary pollutants, such as oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds, are processed in the atmosphere, leading to their oxidation and ultimate removal, while at the same time producing secondary species such as ozone and organic aerosols. Such substances can be toxic for humans, animals and plants. Recent research has uncovered the complex chemistry of natural organic compounds released from trees and other plants. Because of the different chemical structure of these compounds, they react differently than organic substances typically found in urban environments. At present, it is not clear if the mixing of biogenic organic compounds with urban makes air quality better or worse. In the end, the answer may be much more complex than such a question implies. Our goal as scientists is to improve understanding of all relevant processes now, and in the future better solutions to urban air quality problems will be possible. The ACROSS project focuses on scientific research to understand the detailed chemistry and physics of the chemistry of mixed urban and rural air with the goal to use this knowledge to improve the performance of air quality models. Enhanced knowledge and improved models will allow us to develop better strategies to improve air quality and save lives.


COJOCARU Ludmila Laureate of the French call
Home institution : Germany, Institute of Sustainable Systems Engineering
Project : ECS – Hybrid systems combining perovskite solar cells and supercapacitors based on coconuts activated carbon for Energy Conversion – Storage devices
Host institution : Institut des Sciences Moléculaires, Université de Bordeaux

The continuous increase in energy demand and carbon emission has raised the urgency of changing to renewable energy sources. Among the renewable energies available, photovoltaics, which directly converts solar light into electricity, is one of the attractive methods to harvest solar energy, which is the most abundant and available energy source on earth. One of the main limitations of solar cells as a reliable and stable source of power is the fluctuation of the Solar Sun irradiation due to the cycle of day and night. On cloudy days solar cells do not perform as well as on bright sunny days and at night time solar cells do not generate electricity at all. A combination of solar cells with energy storage devices may be a solution to this problem because of the concomitant electricity storage. As promising low-cost efficient solar cells, organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite solar cells exhibit great potential to be interconnected with supercapacitors in order to create energy conversion-storage devices. In this context, this project aims at designing, processing and characterizing the performances of integrated devices combining perovskite solar cells and supercapacitors connected through a common electrode based on activated carbon. Furthermore, along with the fabrication of high quality perovskite solar cells, this project’s aim is to use activated carbon produced from a renewable resource, more precisely coconut shells, for the electrodes of the supercapacitor and the perovskite solar cell. Using biomass materials as a renewable source of activated carbon can help us to limit the unsustainable exploitation of fossil carbon deposits. In this context this work will benefit from the excellent expertise of the National Institute of Fundamental Studies (Sri Lanka) on activated carbon materials.


CARRIER Marion Laureate of the French call
Home institution : UK, Aston University
Project : PYROKINE – Fast pyrolysis of waste biomass: Dual kinetics
Host institution : Centre de recherche en génie des procédés des solides divises, de l’énergie et de l’environnement, Albi

This multidisciplinary project is intended to accelerate the development of Pyrolysis ‘dynamic’ kinetic patterns of contaminated biomass considering mechanistic aspects and transfer phenomena within the pyrolysis process. This research program takes place in an energy and environmental transition context where the viable and continuous production of biofuels and fuels in the transport sector is crucial in the energy offer as it has become an essential driver for the sustainable development of the Europeans economy. In this project, contaminated biomasses, alternative feedstocks to agricultural and forest residues, will be valorized to prevent further greenhouse gases due to indirect land use change of expanding agricultural areas dedicated to 1st generation biofuel production. The scientific challenge to be tackled deals with the use of isotopically substituted biopolymers combined with pyrolysis and spectrometric techniques to determine the extent of reactions molecularity but also understand how inorganic contaminants do affect the products yield and the partition of volatiles between the gas and condensed phases. By determining accurate and consistent sets of kinetic parameters and modeling the multiphasic character of biomass pyrolysis, the new model will have the potential to provide molecular and physical level insights into the process. This proposal brings together an experienced fellow, Dr. Marion Carrier, with a world-recognized group in the treatment of contaminated biomasses, the RAPSODEE center and the director, Prof. Ange Nzihou and the Energy Institute of The City College of New York, expert in Catalytic Reaction Engineering.


CHOI Heechae Laureate of the German call
Home institution : South Korea, Korea Institute of Science and Technology
Project : Amorphous-crystal junction: a new class of photochemical semiconductor with high activity and cost-effectiveness
Host institution : Universität zu Köln

This project is aiming at developing a new class of semiconductor system, amorphous-crystal junction, to fabricate highly active photocatalysts for clean hydrogen energy and air/water purifications with lowest cost. In electronic devices and electrochemical applications, charge carrier separable functionality of semiconductors is widely utilized. Conventionally used p-n junction and heterojunction semiconductors must be fabricated via expensive and complicated processes, and hence, many factors such as dopant selections, precursors, and CVD conditions must be considered. Therefore, solar energy harvesting technology to produce clean hydrogen energy has been regarded just as a dream world technology. Many researchers in this field have started closing the possibility to use this technology for practical uses, due to many limiting factors: high cost of photocatalytic materials and very limited number of choosable semiconductor materials. In this project, I suggest a breakthrough idea to solve the problem: amorphous-crystal junction of semiconductors can be utilized as good alternatives of many of p-n junctioned and heterojunctioned. When a semiconductor material changes its crystal structure, the band edge levels are also changed. If we consider amorphous semiconductor solid as one of the phases, we can make heterojunction- or p-n-junction- like material just by partially amorphizing semiconductor solids or stopping crystallization process in the middle. My research idea can make breaking solutions for practical and cheap hydrogen energy production, due to following reasons: 1. This approach vastly broadens the choice of materials – No need for dopants 2. Enormously lowered production costs – less heat-treatment


CHRISTOFORIDIS Konstantinos Laureate of the French call
Home institution : Greece, Democritus University of Thrace
Project : SUNCO2H2EN – Multifunctional materials for a) combined CO2 capture and conversion and b) H2 production from H2O
Host institution : Institut de Chimie et Procédés pour l’Energie, l’Environnement et la Santé, Strasbourg

CO2 levels in the atmosphere have been stabilized over the last years to the highest levels ever detected, contributing significantly in global warming. The increased CO2 levels are mostly attributed to the current global energy usage. Therefore, we must review our future energy outlook. In this direction, due to our late response to global warming, closing the anthropogenic carbon cycle is an unavoidable step. This can be done via two pathways: a) carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS); b) utilization of clean fuels with zero CO2 contribution during production and combustion. In the second approach, H2 can be considered the ideal fuel since it has no carbon footprint. The present project suggests an integrated approach to reduce CO2 levels through the coupling of processes with immediate and long-term impact on global warming. This will be done through the synergy of i) CO2 capture and conversion and iii) H2 production. The first approach will have a direct impact on CO2 levels while the second will reduce gradually and maintain the CO2 in acceptable levels. CO2 capture and conversion will be performed in a single process allowing process intensification and improvement in the overall economics. This will be done by developing multi-component, dual-purpose advanced materials based on composites, where each part will play a different role (adsorption/conversion). H2 production will be performed through water splitting. Photocatalysis will be used for CO2 conversion and H2 production without the need of any external energy input. The combined study under a single project will provide critical information for optimizing materials towards the specific application.