Dutch aerospace consortium to partner with China

c919On April 22nd, a consortium of leading Dutch aerospace companies and institutes signed a collaboration agreement aimed at building up and strengthening the position of the Dutch consortium on the Chinese commercial aerospace market. Partners in the consortium are ADSE, DNW German-Dutch Wind Tunnels, Fokker Technologies, National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), TU Delft and Royal TenCate. The Netherlands Aerospace Group, the industry association, serves as the secretariat of the consortium. NOST will be supporting several of the consortium’s activities in China.

The cluster, aptly titled Dutch Development and Research in Aeronautics supported by Government Organized Network (D2RAGON), will jointly deploy knowledge and expertise commercially to support the development of new concepts and integrated solutions for China’s civil aviation industry. COMAC, China’s main civil aircraft manufacturer, will be an important partner. Its current and future aircraft programs, including the ARJ21 and C919 (pictured), are expected to reap the benefits of Dutch expertise.

The cooperation is co-financed by the Dutch government through the Partners for International Business (PIB) funding program, a program that is aimed at creating access or consolidating the long-term positioning of companies/institutes that function as a consortium. Knowledge institutes can be, and preferably are, part of such a group.

Read the press release (in Dutch only) on the NAG website.

Erasmus University signs a new agreement with Tsinghua University

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On 15 April, Madam Pauline van der Meer Mohr, president of the Erasmus University Rotterdam formalized the cooperation with Tsinghua University. After a pleasant meeting with Tsinghua vice president Yuan Si, both university leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding for educational and research cooperation. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Deputy Ambassador André Driessen and Science Attaché David Pho from the Netherlands Embassy.

Both parties agreed to encourage joint research and joint organization of seminar and academic meetings. During the meeting both universities also emphasized the importance of exchanging students, faculty members and researchers. Erasmus University also welcomes Tsinghua University students to spend an exchange period in Rotterdam, which is in line with the scholarship announcement made by Dutch Minister Bussemaker during her visit to Tsinghua University last month.

Before arriving in Beijing Madam van der Meer Mohr also signed agreement with Wuhan University further strengthening the academic links with China.

The long breath of afforestation

Poorly managed croplands induce soil erosion, diminish biodiversity and jeopardize the availability of natural resources. The resulting drought during dry seasons and floods during raining seasons are costly downsides of excessive farming, which itself becomes furthermore unprofitable by its own consequences.

Since 1999, the central Chinese government has imposed a program to reverse deforestation for farming purposes. This program, the Grain for Green Program (GGP) primarily focuses at steep-sloped, degraded and barren land. It has been implemented in 25 provinces located in central and west China ([1] and see grey areas in figure below, stars indicate communities involved in this study). As a result, by 2012, 9.06 million ha of cropland has now been turned into forest and 0.64 million ha into grassland. With a total surface of 960 million ha [2] this equals to ca. 1% of the complete land area in China.

GGP in China

Ironically, afforestation indeed is an effective way to reverse the detrimental effects of erosion by (deforested) cropland. This is mainly due to the accumulation of biomass in the soil, which leads to, amongst others, increased stability, a higher water-holding capacity and increased fertility. The climate may benefit from afforestation, too. In terms of carbon fixation, farmland is a poor replacement for forests and grassland. Non-fixed carbon may accumulate in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2), a potent greenhouse gas.

Now researchers for the first time analyzed the Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) within the GGP program, of areas that have been afforested or turned into grassland [1]. They found that the amount of soil organic carbon indeed has increased in afforested land. In case more time had passed since the start of afforestation, the amount of organic carbon in the soil increased, especially in the most superficial 20 cm layer: from 10 to 30 years, the SOC increased by 50% and 150%, respectively. Most effective was the introduction of woodland or bamboo; the introduction of grassland moderately increased the carbon organic soil content.

china_GGPCapturing carbon seems to offer a plethora of benefits. Not the least a safe living area with natural resources. Given the scale of the afforestation efforts in the GGP, it may also help to stabilize the CO2 content in the atmosphere. The finding that afforestation has this potential is not new, however, the speed of organic carbon accumulation in the newly forested soil is higher than expected and may therefore be regarded as one of the beneficial side effects of the Grain for Green Program.

World’s first thorium-fuelled facility in China

The Center for Thorium Molten Salt Reactor System, Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics has been told by the Chinese government that the deadline to develop an industrial reactor using thorium molten salt technology has been brought forward by 15 years. They no longer have 25 years to develop this reactor, but only 10.

A team of 430 scientists and engineers, a number planned to rise to 750 by 2015, is headed by Jiang Mianheng, an engineering graduate of Drexel University in the United States who is the son of China’s former leader, Jiang Zemin.

The Chinese appear to be opting for a molten salt reactor – or a liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR). In 2015 a prototype thorium reactor using solid fuel is expect to be ready. By 2017 the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics expects to have one that uses molten thorium fluoride.

More countries have been looking into thorium-based reactors because in theory they has various advantages of uranium-fuelled ones.

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To get this reactor up and running the Chinese are interested in programs and research from abroad, but the execution of the program to create a thorium-fuelled facility seems a Chinese-only endeavour.

Read more: SCMP

EU-CHINA RESEARCH AND INNOVATION PARTNERSHIP (ECRIP): 4 Million Euros to fund mobility of EU Researchers to China

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The European Commission just released a new major programme ‘EU-CHINA RESEARCH AND INNOVATION PARTNERSHIP (ECRIP)’ to fund specifically mobility of European researchers to China.

The objective of this programme is to create, strengthen and intensify the EU-China Research & Innovation (RI) partnerships by supporting the mobility of EU researchers to China and strengthening people-to-people contacts, from both the public and private sectors, in strategic RI sectors.

The overall indicative amount made available under this Call for Proposals is EUR 4,000,000. The Call for Proposals is divided into five lots of EUR 800,000 each, corresponding to five identified strategic areas:

Lot 1: Renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable energy solutions for cities;
Lot 2: Sustainable urban development and urban planning, green urban mobility and transport;
Lot 3: Health, public health and welfare policies – life sciences;

Lot 4: Information and communication technologies, smart cities;
Lot 5: Food, agriculture, bio-technologies and water.

The proposed project must aim to set up or strengthen partnerships in the targeted areas between European and Chinese research organizations (higher education and research entities from public and private sectors), by supporting the mobility of EU researchers to China. Each project funded under this call will be a combination of an identified number of individual mobility schemes complemented by supporting activities.

The funding of the mobility of EU-based researchers to China is the main aim of this programme. Individuals financially supported in the framework of the mobility scheme must be nationals from one of the EU Member States and shall not be already based in China or have previously spent an extended period undertaking research in China. Doctoral and post-doctoral students, research and academic staff, as well as engineers, innovation managers and RI personnel are all eligible to be funded.

In order to implement the project, the applying organizations will organize themselves in a partnership composed of at least two European organizations, from two different EU Member States, and a minimum of one Chinese organization.

Deadline to submit the proposal’s concept note is 23 May, 2014.

Access the call and all the application details on the European Commission Development & Cooperation website.