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Enhancing the Research Potential of the NCSR “Demokritos” Environmental Research Laboratory in the European, National and Regional Research Areas

Final Report Summary - PERL (Enhancing the Research Potential of the NCSR “Demokritos” Environmental Research Laboratory in the European, National and Regional Research Areas)

PERL Executive Summary:

The basic objective and scope of the project is to improve the research potential of the Environmental Research Laboratory (EREL) of the National Center for Scientific Research “Demokritos” (NCSRD) in the fields of atmospheric environment and sustainable development (clean energy production, hydrogen technologies). Specific aims serving the general objective are:
1. To strengthen and diversify the Research Portfolio to ensure that EREL becomes one of the preeminent institutions working at the intersection of environment, clean energy, public health, and security.
2. To improve the research management capacity of EREL.
3. To perform outreaching actions with a view to strengthening bonds of EREL with SMEs and the industry.
4. To align the EREL Action Plan in response to research activities and thematic priorities described in (a) Regional Operational plan of Attica, (b) GSRT Strategic Plan “Innovation, Research and Technology 2007-2013”, (c) ERA and (d) FP7 related fields (Energy, Environment, ICT, Security) and Technological Initiatives (JTI on H2 & FC).
5. To upgrade the scientific value of EREL members and create “critical mass” in the specified areas of research.
6. To upgrade existing equipment and experimental infrastructure to support innovative research activities and the provision of high quality services. This also includes the upgrading of computational facilities, to enhance the modelling capabilities of EREL.
7. To enhance EREL collaborations at Regional / National / European levels and strengthen the relevant strategic partnerships.

The project has succeeded in achieving the above through a series of recruitments of specialized staff, installation, testing and use of new equipment along with dissemination and training actions (secondments, website, publications and presentations, organization of dedicated seminar, internal training sessions, etc). An Advisory group has been formed providing suggestions during the project and a final assessment report on the PERL impacts. As a result of PERL activities, an enhancement of the publication record and other academic indicators is noted, accompanied by a stable level of external funding (an important achievement considering the grave economic crisis in Greece over the last years) and an increase of international collaborations, networking actions and proposal submissions by the Laboratory.
The highly qualified scientists who have been recruited and integrated in the R&D activities of EREL contributed not only to provide support to current activities and projects but also to advance existing capabilities in high priority research areas like Global climatic models, Health effects and risk analysis, Atmospheric chemistry, Hydrogen technology, Security / Safety studies.
The positive PERL impacts are expected to assist in sustaining the enhanced R&D capabilities of the Laboratory after the project end. The expansion of activities in fields that attract significant interest both regionally and internationally and the upgraded infrastructure built on the basis of PERL funds will be major drivers towards sustaining the current high level of expertise of EREL and its capacity to offer advanced R&D services to regional and national stakeholders.

Project Context and Objectives:

The basic objective and scope of the project was to improve the research potential of the Environmental Research Laboratory (EREL) of the National Center for Scientific Research “Demokritos” (NCSRD) in the fields of atmospheric environment and sustainable development (clean energy production). The Laboratory has achieved over the last years significant progress and growth but further support was needed to undertake the required leap forward (in terms of infrastructure and critical mass) and evolve to a major R&D center in the above areas for the region, the country and South Eastern Europe. More specifically, for the purposes of the present project EREL focused on air quality and hydrogen technologies as two research areas of great importance for an integrated environmental protection and sustainable development in regional and global terms. Indeed, EREL is a leading R&D entity on hydrogen safety and hydrogen storage in solid materials in the region (Attica), in the whole country (Greece) and in the broad area of South Eastern Europe. At the same time, the Laboratory is one of the main R&D players in the region and the country in the field of air pollution.
Specific aims serving the general objective (i.e. to enhance the research potential of EREL, through targeted activities in specific research areas related to the atmospheric environment and hydrogen technologies) were:
1. To strengthen and diversify the Research Portfolio to ensure that EREL becomes one of the preeminent institutions working at the intersection of environment, clean energy, public health, and security.
2. To improve research management capacity of EREL.
3. To perform outreaching actions with a view to strengthening bonds of EREL with SMEs and the industry.
4. To align the EREL Action Plan in response to research activities and thematic priorities described in (a) Regional Operational plan of Attica, (b) GSRT Strategic Plan “Innovation, Research and Technology 2007-2013”, (c) ERA and (d) FP7 calls in related fields (e.g. Energy, Environment, ICT, Security) and Technological Initiatives (JTI on H2 & FC).
5. To upgrade the scientific value of EREL members and create “critical mass” in the specified areas of research.
6. To upgrade existing equipment and experimental infrastructure to support innovative research activities and the provision of high quality services. This also included the upgrading of computational facilities, to enhance the modelling capabilities of EREL.
7. To enhance EREL collaborations at Regional / National / European levels and strengthen the relevant strategic partnerships.
The project has succeeded in achieving the above objectives through a series of recruitments of specialized staff, installation, testing and use of new equipment along with dissemination and training actions (secondments, website, publications and presentations, organization of dedicated seminar, internal training sessions, etc). An Advisory group has been formed providing suggestions during the project and a final assessment report on the PERL impacts. As a result of PERL activities, an enhancement of the publication record and other academic indicators is noted, accompanied by a stable level of external funding (an important achievement considering the grave economic crisis in Greece over the last years) and an increase of international collaborations, networking actions and proposal submissions by the Laboratory. The positive PERL impacts are expected to assist in sustaining the enhanced R&D capabilities of the Laboratory after the project end. The expansion of activities in fields that attract significant interest both regionally and internationally and the upgraded infrastructure built on the basis of PERL funds will be major drivers towards sustaining the current high level of expertise of EREL and its capacity to offer advanced R&D services to regional and national stakeholders.
1. Recruitment and participation of high-level experts in support of EREL R&D activities:
The highly qualified scientists who have been recruited and integrated in the R&D activities of EREL contributed not only to provide support to current activities and projects but also to advance existing capabilities in high priority research areas like Global climatic models, Health effects and risk analysis, Atmospheric chemistry, Hydrogen technology, Security / Safety studies.
i) Recruitments and R&D activities in the area of “Development and Application of Atmospheric Models”: This concerns the activities on the development and application of atmospheric models in support of the EREL action plan. The priority set was related to developing Global Climate Models and Chemical Transport Models focusing on Eastern Mediterranean. Emphasis was placed on developing a predictive capability of the planetary response to anthropogenic and natural environmental perturbations, to achieve future assessments of anthropogenic and natural perturbations to atmospheric composition and climate and the reverse.
ii) Recruitments and R&D activities in the area of “Risk assessment and Health impacts of atmospheric pollution”: This part is related with activities on the downscaling of future climate change data and integration into a regional modeling system, and development of CMAQ based modelling approaches to quantify the impact of pollution sources on the atmospheric environment.
iii) Recruitments and R&D activities in the area of “Chemical analysis and measurements of air pollution”: Here the aim was to support the upgrading of the R&D potential of EREL in atmospheric monitoring, air pollutants sampling techniques, chemical analysis and characterization of fine and ultra-fine particles, and the development and application of new techniques and methods for estimating the origin, the attitude and the effect of air pollutants in order to suggest solutions for the public health protection.

iv) Recruitments and R&D activities in the area of “Hydrogen safety and storage”: The hydrogen related R&D potential of EREL, was further enhanced with the recruitment of experts who contributed to both the hydrogen safety simulation tool development and the validation and design of tailored hydrogen storage materials for specific applications (stationary, portable, transport). Service provision to interested parties in terms of safety studies and / or storage material sample characterization and testing has also benefited from these recruitments.
2. Upgrading of experimental and computational infrastructure
The relevant activities comprise a very important part of PERL and deal with the acquisition and upgrading of EREL experimental infrastructure to support the highly innovative research activities and provision of services. In this respect, the focus was on:
a) Enhancing and integrating atmospheric monitoring equipment
b) Installing and using equipment in support of hydrogen research activities
c) High performance computer cluster
d) Software Licensing
3. Exchange of know-how and experience
This involved activities related to the exchange of know and experience between EREL and renowned research groups from Greece and the European Research Area (ERA). A series of targeted activities was performed allowing the scientific personnel of EREL to improve on personal terms, resulting in an overall increase of the Lab’s research potential through investment in knowledge production and transfer, the development of close collaborations and networking with several groups within and outside the country, the submission of joint R&D proposals to collaborative programmes, the participation to international committees and infrastructural networks and the promotion of entrepreneurial culture.
a) Two way secondments with national and European groups
Targeted exchanges of scientific personnel between EREL and R&D groups mainly from the ERA. This allowed promoting specific research activities that have a significant impact on the Action Plan of EREL and further enhance its research potential.
b) Mobility /exchanges of overseas experts (outside EU)
Targeted exchanges of experts from third countries (USA) to enhance research activities of EREL, cement international collaboration and increase visibility of the performed research.
c) Training Activities
It involved training of EREL scientists on the acquired equipment to fully exploit the potential of the instrumentation and integrate it in the research activities of the Laboratory. Training on methodologies and theoretical approaches took also place.
4. Exploitation and Dissemination Activities
a) Organization of advanced seminars
b) Development and enhancement of EREL Website
c) Participation of EREL in infodays / exhibitions / conferences
c) Activities related to the development of regional thematic clusters / networks in the fields of the environment and clean energy.


Project Results:

1. Recruitments of specialized personnel
During PERL, a number of highly qualified scientists have been recruited and integrated in the R&D activities of EREL, as summarized below:
“Recruitment in the area of “Development and Application of Atmospheric Models”
Recruited: Dr. Rafaella – Eleni Sotiropoulou (former Research Associate at Georgia Tech., USA)
“Recruitment in the area of “Risk assessment and Health impacts of atmospheric pollution”.
Recruited: Dr. Efthimios Tagaris (former Research Associate at Georgia Tech., USA)
“Recruitments in the area of “Chemical analysis and measurements of air pollution”.
Recruited: Dr. Kyriaki Bairachtari (former Research Associate at NCSRD) and Mrs. Antigoni Katsanaki (Chemist, MSc).
“Recruitments in the area of “Hydrogen safety and storage”.
Recruited: Dr. Athanasios Bourlinos (former Research Associate at Cornell Univ., USA, and NCSRD), Dr. Andreas Yiotis (former Research Associate at Univ. Southern California and NCSRD), Dr. Nikolaos Papadimitriou (former Research Assoc. at NCSRD), Dr. Emmanuel Stamatakis (former Research Associate at IFE, Norway) and Mr. Ilias Tolias (Mechanical Engineer, MSc).
The above recruited staff served not only to provide support to current activities and projects but also to advance existing capabilities in high priority research areas. More specifically, they have contributed to the following areas of interest to EREL:
Global climatic models. The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) general circulation model (GCM) ModelE and the NASA Global Modeling Initiative (GMI) have been successfully installed in the existing EREL work stations. EREL modelling ability in the prediction of climatic change and its particular impacts on the Eastern Mediterranean countries and on a regional level has been substantially enhanced. The scientific research has provided a basis for targeted policy making activities to determine whether climate change forcing has significant impact on the long term effectiveness of current and future emissions controls in the Greek territory and in the region of Attica. A number of proposals related to climate change impacts have been submitted, while a new project for assessing climate change and atmospheric pollution in Greece has just commenced.
Health effects and risk analysis. The relative contributions of PM2.5 and ozone precursor emissions to air pollution-related premature mortality modulated by climate change are estimated using sensitivities of air pollutants to precursor emissions and health outcomes for 2001 and 2050. This is currently a high priority R&D topic in the EU and significant research effort has been invested on it over the last years. Numerous projects have received funding from EU recognizing the importance of similar studies in determining and communicating the impacts of air pollution to human health (hospital admissions, morbidity and mortality). It is expected to integrate and complement the air pollution forecasting system by including a daily risk measure from atmospheric stressors. A new project to estimate future environmental and socio-economic impacts at local level in Greece has just started.
Atmospheric chemistry. The acquired infrastructure is mainly used on research projects and specifically during photocatalysis experiments. EREL service provision as well as air pollutants photocatalysis research has been substantially enhanced. The scientific research will provide significant information regarding the photocatalytic ability of innovative materials to remove organic and inorganic chemical species (e.g. gas pollutants). Additionally, the knowledge of the reaction mechanisms of air pollutants on materials’ surface will be enriched as a result of PERL.
Hydrogen research. EREL has invested considerable effort and developed wide collaborations in the field of hydrogen technologies and in particular storage and safety. Hydrogen is regarded as an energy carrier of the future and the development of a hydrogen based economy is one of the plausible scenarios currently pursued internationally for the effective tackling of the energy and environmental challenges our society faces today. Both experimental and computational activities are ongoing in the Laboratory involving the synthesis and characterization of advanced hydrogen storage materials and methods, the numerical simulation of the relevant storage processes in materials and systems (tanks), the study of hydrogen safety in various applications and the development and use of advanced computer models and codes for the prediction of the impact of accidental releases of hydrogen both in indoor and outdoor environments. The recruits have been selected in order to contribute both in the experimental and the theoretical part of the work at EREL.
Security / Safety studies. Technology development and security / safety applications have great potential in Greece and their outlook as a strategic sector for industrial development and provision of specialized services is positive. EREL in collaboration with the Center for Security Studies of the Hellenic Ministry of Citizen Protection (ΚΕΜΕΑ) is currently coordinating the efforts for the establishment of a Security Cluster in the region of Attica and in all Greece. The Greek Security Cluster will operate as a network that will link and coordinate the agencies involved with security issues. EREL (based on PERL infrastructure) will serve the priorities of this cluster by extending its activities toward safety and security studies (dispersion of toxic and other substances, mitigation measures, etc).

2. Upgrade of experimental and computational infrastructure
Another major PERL contribution has been the major experimental and computational infrastructure acquired by the Laboratory, including:
Ion Chromatograph ICS-5000 Reagent-Free: The ICS-5000 Reagent-Free obtained through this programme will be combined with the steam jet aerosol collector performing the sampling that is developed in house. The complete system will be deployed in a field monitoring station for continuous operation. The ICS-5000 Reagent-Free system with Eluent Generation, is the world’s first capillary IC system. With the ability to analyze samples at capillary the system increased a) the flow rate accuracy b) the fluent generator electronics stability and c) the conductivity cell temperature control which improved the baseline stability and enhance sensitivity.
Ion Chromatography system for the determination of anions and cations in air samples: One way to identify the source of particles is to measure their chemical composition. Salts such as NaCl, CaCO3, Ca2NO3, (NH4)2SO4, and NH4NO3 comprise a large fraction of aerosol particles. The various salts are often found as solutions in particles, where the salts dissociate and form cations (positive ions) and anions (negative ions). The procedure for ions determination in particulate matter is: a) collect particles onto a teflon filter b) extract the filters using ultrapure water and c) use ion chromatography to determine the concentration of ions such as chloride, nitrate, sulfate, ammonium, potassium, etc
Organic/Elemental carbon aerosol analyzer: The OC-EC instrument is used to analyze aerosol particles collected on quartz-fiber filters for both organic carbon and elemental carbon (OC-EC). By careful system control and continuous monitoring of the optical absorbance of the sample during analysis, this method is able to both prevent any undesired oxidation of original elemental carbon and make corrections for the inevitable generation of carbon char produced by the pyrolitic conversion of organics into elemental carbon.
Ambient air CO analyzer, NH3-NO converter coupled with gas mixture unit: Using gas filter correlation technology, the CO Thermo 48i analyzer measures the amount of carbon monoxide in the air. The analyzer is based on the principle that carbon monoxide (CO) absorbs infrared radiation at a wavelength of 4.6 microns. The NH3-NO converter is coupled to the EREL’s NOx analyzer (Environment AC32M) in order to achieve continuous NO-NO2-NH3 monitoring. The analyzer is based on the principle of chemiluminescence. The above instrumentation was combined with extension of gas cylinders net, UPS and gas mixture system for the preparation of standard gases.
Data Acquisition System: The data acquisition system collects meteorological data and data for automatic analyzers (i.e. PM2.5 O3 SO2 and NOX) in a field monitoring station.
Autosorb®-1 gas sorption analyzer: The AUTOSORB®-1 gas sorption analyser (purchased from Quantachrome Instruments, USA) is a fully automated low pressure volumetric system that enables the measurement of the quantity of gas (such as N2, H2, CO2) adsorbed onto or desorbed from a solid surface at some equilibrium vapor pressure (up to 1 bar) and the determination of critical properties of e.g. porous materials (specific surface area, pore size, total pore volume, pore size distribution). The data are obtained by admitting or removing a known quantity of adsorbate gas into or out of a sample cell containing the solid adsorbent maintained at a constant temperature below the critical temperature of the adsorbate. As adsorption or desorption occurs the pressure in the sample cell changes until equilibrium is established. The quantity of gas adsorbed or desorbed at the equilibrium pressure is the difference between the amount of gas admitted or removed and the amount required to fill the space around the adsorbent (void space). A special software interfaces the AUTOSORB-1 to a computer for data acquisition, data reduction and archiving.
Customised cryocooling system to enable highly specialized measurements at extreme temperature conditions
Compact automatic titrator
High performance computer cluster (HPCC): EREL is developing a computer cluster called “Storm” to satisfy the increasing computational demands of weather forecasting with the MM5 and WRF programs, as well as, other parallel programs developed in our Lab. “Storm” is a beowulf class cluster of PC's made up mainly of low cost, but powerful, components. The clusters consists of 5 compute node PC’s (Intel Core I7-920 @ 2.66Ghz) and 1 frontend PC (Intel Core I7-920 @ 2.66Ghz) which handles communications and data storage. The cluster has a total of 36GB memory and approximately 3TB hard disk space. The PC’s are interconnected using a private Gigabit Ethernet Switch through the TCP/IP protocol. The cluster has a total of 24 physical (cpu cores) and a corresponding 48 logical processing units (threads). It currently has a theoretical peak performance of 212,8 Gflops and an actual measured Linpack performance of approximately 150Gflops (for the compute nodes only), which correspond to an impressive cost of 25€ per Gflop! A second cluster, “Cyclone”, has been also assembled for testing and benchmarking purposes. “Cyclone” has a similar architecture with “Storm” and it consists of 6 computer node PC’s (Intel Core 2 Duo @ 3Ghz E8400 or E6850) and 1 frontend PC (Intel Core I7-920 @ 2.66Ghz). “Cyclone” is used primarily for testing new software in terms of compatibility with the Operating System and the cluster hardware, but also in term of efficiency, before installing them of the main cluster. “Cyclone” is also used for the training of EREL personnel in parallel environments and programming and dissemination activities such as parallel programming seminars and training (e.g. Cluster School 2009) and for simulations that do not require significant resources.
Specialized Software Licensing
Purchase, installation, testing and usage of the gPROMS commercial software for energy process applications. gPROMS is a platform for high-fidelity predictive modelling for the process industries. It is an equation-oriented modelling system used for building, validating and executing first-principles models within a flowsheeting framework. Models are constructed in the gPROMS ModelBuilder by writing down the fundamental chemistry, physics, chemical engineering, operating procedures and other relationships that govern the process or product behaviour. The resulting model is then validated against observed data – typically, laboratory, pilot plant or operating data – to adjust model parameters such as heat transfer coefficients to match reality as closely as possible.
Its main applications are in model-based engineering activities for process and equipment development and design, and optimisation of process operations. gPROMS is applied by major process and technology organisations throughout the world, across many application areas in all process sectors. In the context of PERL, the gPROMS software tool is employed by the EREL staff in order to perform heat transfer calculations for the design optimization of hydrogen storage tanks containing solid storage media.
Applications running on HPCC
Several parallel applications are running on the above described HPCC infrastructure:
Weather forecasting software: A parallel version of the mm5 program is used for performing weather forecasting simulations. The computational domain covers Europe and the Northern part of Africa at a 25x25km spatial resolution, 9x9km for the Balkan region, 3x3km for Greece and 1x1km resolution for the Greater Athens Area. MM5 is executed in parallel on the Storm cluster once every day. Each simulation requires approximately 10hours for a 72h forecasting horizon. The results are then post-processed using Matlab and are uploaded on a public web server where they are presented in a user friendly environment (http://www2.ipta.demokritos.gr/forecast/).
Mesoscale simulations in porous materials: EREL also performs research in the field of flows in macroporous materials which are encountered in a series of environmental and energy-related processes such as soil remediation, enhanced oil recovery from fractured reservoirs, geothermal processes, CO2 sequestration etc. The study and optimization of such processes requires the development of rigorous modelling tools that successfully capture the physics of the immiscible flow process at the pore scale, in order to provide accurate upscaling results. In this context, both single and multiphase simulations are performed on our clusters using in-house parallel software based on mesoscale Lattice Boltzmann models and macroscale Pore Network models.
Microscopic simulations for determining the thermodynamic properties of liquids: Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are also performed on our clusters using open source software such as Moldy. These simulations offer better insight in the thermodynamics of liquid-gas equilibria encountered in environmental systems.

3. Exchange of know-how and experience
Atmospheric science - Air quality
Visit to EREL by Dr Zac Adelman (March 2010): Dr Zac Adelman is a Research Associate at the Center for Environmental Modeling for Policy Development - UNC-Chapel Hill, USA. He is an air quality modeler with focus on emissions modeling and gas-phase atmospheric chemistry. He is involved in the developing group of the Community Multiscale Air Quality Modeling System (CMAQ) as well as the Sparse Matrix Operator Kernal Emissions (SMOKE): CMAQ and SMOKE modeling systems are currently used for air quality simulations by EREL team members.
SMOKE is used to convert the resolution of the data in an emission inventory to the resolution needed by the air quality model. CMAQ is a multipollutant, multiscale air quality model for simulating all atmospheric and land processes that affect transport, transformation, and deposition of atmospheric pollutants on both regional and urban scales. During his visit in our lab Dr Adelman has been involved in upgrading the air quality and emissions modeling systems and installing new subroutines as well as pre- and post- processing codes. Moreover, Dr Adelman trained EREL staff members on the use of the new tools.
Visit of Dr. D. Saraga to EC-Joint Research Center (JRC), Ispra, Italy (November 2010): A training event (“The Use of Receptor Models in the Source Apportionment of Air Pollutants”) was organized by the Institute for Environment and Sustainability/JRC -European Reference Laboratory for Air Pollution (ERLAP). Several experts from USA and Europe participated in the training event and discussed the perspective of receptor models application. Chemical Mass Balance, Factor Analysis, Positive Matrix Factorization and Multivariate Analysis methodology was analyzed in detailed. Additionally, training for the new aspects for source apportionment of particulate matter with advanced spectrometry was conducted. Finally all the experts participated in a source apportionment exercise using a common data base which included real field study measurements.

Hydrogen Technologies (Storage in Solid Materials, Experiments and Simulation)
Visit / Secondment of Dr. A. Bourlinos to University of Ioannina, Greece: Collaboration with the group of Prof. Gournis (Dept. Materials Science and Engineering) on issues related to advanced synthesis techniques for carbon based nanostructured materials appropriately doped with metals. The aim is to enhance the hydrogen storage capacity through the so called spillover effect (dissociation of hydrogen molecule on nanodispersed metal catalysts (Pd, Pt) and diffusion of atomic hydrogen on the carbon nanopore surface) and/or the enhancement of interaction between hydrogen and the solid matrix (Li doping).
Visit / Secondment of Mr. A. Ampoumogli to University of Crete, Greece: Collaboration with the group of Prof. Trikalitis (Dept. Chemistry) on the synthesis of Metal Organic Framework Materials (MOFs) with proper doping for the enhancement of hydrogen storage capacity. Also cooperation and training on techniques for the characterization of the storage properties of the materials (PCT, volumetric and gravimetric methods).
Visit / Secondment of Dr. N. Papadimitriou to University of Crete, Greece: Collaboration with the Computational Chemistry group of Prof. Froudakis (Dept. Chemistry) on the prediction of volumetric and gravimetric hydrogen storage capacity of pristine and doped materials (carbon based, MOFs). The relevant simulation techniques involve ab-initio and Monte Carlo methods.
Visit / Secondment of Dr. A. Yiotis to Univ. Paris-Sud 11 (Laboratoire FAST), France: Collaboration on the development and efficient use of advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics techniques (Lattice Boltzmann) for the simulation of single and multi-phase flow in porous materials. The relevant transport phenomena and the distribution of the fluid phases within the porous structure are of special interest in this type of simulations.
Visit / Secondment of Dr. E. Stamatakis to Institutt for Energiteknikk (IFE, Norway): Collaboration on neutron scattering techniques (sample preparation, measurements) for the characterization of hydrogenated solid materials (carbon based, metal hydrides). IFE possesses extensive experience on this type of techniques (JEEP reactor) and PERL gave the chance for a long lasting cooperation with the group of Prof. Hauback.
The above visits / secondments have had altogether a significant impact on the R&D capabilities of EREL with regard to hydrogen storage technologies. In particular, the EREL staff has obtained extensive experience on the synthesis and characterization of advanced solid storage materials as well as on the computational methods that allow for reliable predictions of the material storage capacity and the design of novel structures with enhanced storage properties. Such theoretical material design and screening capabilities constitute the state-of-the-art in the field as they can potentially save considerable time and effort by suggesting to the experimental teams promising structures for synthesis and subsequent characterization as opposed to the commonly followed trial and error approach.
In addition, the above visits have strengthened the ties between EREL and the host organizations thus providing the opportunity for the establishment of long lasting cooperation with world class groups, efficient networking and preferential access to advanced facilities.

4. Training activities
Air quality modeling:
As mentioned above, EREL staff members involved in air quality modeling have been trained in the new features of the Community Multiscale Air Quality Modeling System (CMAQ) and the Sparse Matrix Operator Kernal Emissions (SMOKE) by Mr Zac Adelman. Since Mr Zac Adelman is a member of the developing group of CMAQ and SMOKE modeling systems our team members have been trained in the recently released versions. Moreover, training activities in the new pre and post processing tools of CMAQ and SMOKE modeling systems made our work faster, more reliable and accurate. As such we were able to start the air quality forecasting system using up to date modeling systems and tools.
Receptor Models and Source Apportionment:
The Use of Receptor Models in the Source Apportionment of Air Pollutants (November 2010, European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC) Ispra, Italy) EREL Participant: Dr Dikaia Saraga
The workshop was organized by IES-European Reference Laboratory for Air Pollution (ERLAP). The scientific program of the workshop included an extensive discussion about the European perspective for Source Apportionment using Receptor Models, based on knowledge from United States experience. Prof. Hopke presented the historical perspective of Receptor Models and their role in the US air quality regulations. A critical comparison of source apportionment methodologies followed by discussing results from PMF, CMB, ME models applications. Finally, a European intercomparison exercise was organized, with the aim of comparing the methodologies used from several experts in Europe and focusing on their optimization.
Air quality measurements:
A. Measuring Air Pollutants by Diffusive Sampling and Other Low Cost Monitoring Techniques (September 2009 Krakow, Poland) EREL Participant: Dr Thomas Maggos
The role of Diffusive Sampling Techniques in the assessment of air pollution has changed dramatically during the last years. With the development of the EU Air Quality Directive, the Daughter Directives and the recent Directive ‘on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air for Europe’, the importance of the diffusive sampling has been further recognised and widely implemented. Although formally only used in the workplace, the technique is now accepted for ambient air and indoor air monitoring and personal exposure assessment. In later years, the monitoring has been enhanced by other low cost methods, including sensors and miniature instrumentation.
During the course, the state of art and the newest developments in the field were presented while a good opportunity was offered for scientists, air quality managers and manufacturers to exchange experiences and thoughts about the new applications.
B. Current & Future Air Quality Monitoring (December 2010 London)
EREL Participant: Dr Thomas Maggos
Across Europe, member states are experiencing extreme difficulties in meeting air pollution Limit Values set by the 2008 Air Quality Directive. These difficulties raise serious concerns, both because of the consequential health impacts, and because the predicted trends in pollution emissions are not being realized in ambient concentrations, suggesting that our understanding of pollution sources and atmospheric processes is flawed. Although monitoring networks across Europe have increased over the last ten years, monitoring has focused on determining Limit Value compliance, using CEN standard methods, rather than making measurements that clarify the relative impact of different sources and allow the refinement of models. New monitoring approaches and new technologies need to be assessed in good time for the revision of the Directive in 2013.
The meeting provided an authoritative review of the current status for air quality monitoring, and the possibilities for monitoring differently in the future.
C. European Symposium on Photocatalysis (September 2011, Bordeaux, France)
EREL Paricipant: Dr Thomas Maggos
The accurate and standardized determination of the performances of various new materials and devices is a pre-requisite for the design of original photocatalytic materials and the secure development of the photocatalysis market. European and International standards are either published or under study in standardization committees, mixing experts from companies and academics from research laboratories.
The symposium provided a timely update on
i) research breakthroughs on photocatalytic materials and methods devoted to mechanisms understanding
ii) recent standardization methods
iii) latest applications of photocatalysis, including:
- air and water purification,
- hygiene,
- self-cleaning materials,
- outdoor and indoor coatings for roads and buildings
Besides communications by leaders in the field, JEP 2011 fostered exchange between academic and industrial practitioners in poster, exhibition sessions and bilateral meetings. The latter was a significant opportunity for participants (academics and industrials) to establish new contacts for future cooperation. Specifically, three bilateral meetings were scheduled between EREL and a) CERTECH b) University Antwerpen and c) UPPA IPREM.
Parallel programming:
Two seminars were organized by EREL in order to train in parallel programming a number of new EREL members along with other scientists inside or outside NCSR “Demokritos”. Parallel programming has evolved to a valuable tool for resource intensive simulations in many scientific and applied fields. Thus, the main objective of the seminars was to provide an introduction to High Performance Computing systems and tools to a wide range audience. The courses were very helpful for post-graduate students in engineering and applied sciences to pursue a career in scientific computing and PhD students who developed scientific software for resource intensive applications. They were also very useful for systems administrators who planned to setup a parallel infrastructure at their institutes.
The topics that were covered during the seminars include an in-depth hands-on approach to parallel computing starting from hardware issues and reaching all the way to parallel programming strategies with MPI.
The seminars, CS09A (28/9/2009-2/10/2009) and CS09B (23/11/2009-27/11/2009), were held at the premises of EREL in the National Center for Scientific Research "Demokritos", Athens, Greece. They attracted (besides the EREL staff) an enthusiastic audience of 37 young scientists and computer experts from Universities, Research Institutes and private companies.
Security:
On April 11, 2011, EPER staff members presented their skills in the broader field of crisis management with extensive use of computational tools at the Center for Security Studies / Ministry of Citizen Protection. At the same time new EREL staff members were trained on crisis management issues. The issues presented were:
1. Operational weather prediction models and analysis of results / data for operational use in the field
2. Dispersion models for CBRN substances (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear) in urban environments
3. Exposure assessment in population RN factors
4. Risk assessment of hydro-meteorological physical disasters


Potential Impact:

Major PERL Impacts – Exploitation of Results
Advisory group members
Prof. Yiannis C. Yortsos (Chairman of the EREL Advisory Group)
Area of Expertise: Research Management, Transport in Porous Materials, Applications in gas Storage
Qualifications: Dean of Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and Chester F. Dolley Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering (University of Southern California).

Dr. Dimitrios Kotzias
Area of Expertise: Atmospheric chemistry, air pollution, indoor air quality.
Qualifications: Head of Unit, Physical and Chemical Exposure, Institute for Health & Consumer Protection, EU Joint Research Center at Ispra. Dr. Kotzias has more than 30 years research experience and led numerous EU funded projects.

Prof. Ioannis Economou
Area of Expertise: Gas Processing Technologies
Qualifications: Associate Provost for Graduate Studies & Professor of Chemical Engineering, The Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi. Chairman of the Working Party on Thermodynamics and Transport Properties of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering.

Dr. George Bamopoulos
Area of Expertise: Accreditation, quality assurance and standardization procedures
Qualifications: Laboratory Director, Hellenic Organization for Standardization (ELOT) S.A. and Hellenic Accreditation System.

Mr. George Leventakis
Area of Expertise: Security, Safety.
Qualifications: Member to the BoD of European Organization for Security (EOS). Member to the European Research and Innovation Forum (ESRIF). He has15 years experience in Security Management. His key relevant experience includes operational and technical roles across two Organising Committees of Olympic Games for a duration of 6 years (SYDNEY 2000 and ATHENS 2004). During the Athens 2004 Olympic Games preparation phase he had the responsibility to integrate Venue Operating Plans of the Organising Committee with the Security Operating/Crisis Plans. He is responsible and he is leading KEMEA’S participation in the European Programmes of the European Commission.

REPORT ENDORSED BY THE ADVISORY GROUP
The Advisory Group endorsed the following report on the PERL impacts on the R&D potential of EREL. Here, follows the relevant message by the Chair of the Advisory Group:

“The attached report provides a comprehensive summary of the spectacular efforts of PERL in the last two years. The accomplishments presented are that much more impressive, given the very challenging times the country of Greece experienced during that same period. As the dean of the highly ranked USC Viterbi School of Engineering I can attest to the caliber of the research effort and the results obtained and I wanted to congratulate you on a superb performance.

As the chair of the Advisory Committee of PERL I fully and enthusiastically endorse the report”.

Yannis C. Yortsos

A brief analysis of the PERL impacts on the R&D potential of EREL is provided in this section based on the evolution of a number of indicators over the last eight-year period (2004-2011). Data provided in this section are taken from the official annual reports of the Institute of Nuclear Technology and Radiation Protection to which EREL formally belongs. It is reminded that PERL started on 1.1.2009 and ended on 31.12.2011. Hiring of qualified scientific staff (for different periods in the project), acquiring new and upgrading existing EREL equipment and promoting networking with other research groups have been the major contributions of PERL that led to the impacts summarized below.
Publications
A notable increase of the journal articles is observed particularly for the last two years (2010-2011) and is mainly due to the positive effects of the PERL project. Indeed, the EREL personnel has been producing constantly more than 20 publications per year in refereed scientific journals (average just below 24/year for the period 2004-2008) and more than 30 papers in conference proceedings. At the beginning of PERL, the Laboratory was facing difficulties in coping with changes at the European level (brought by FP7) and retaining its R&D staff and standards. In fact, these weaknesses and threats formed the baseline for the submission of the PERL proposal. In the 3-year PERL duration (2009-2011), the number of journal publications has markedly increased from the minimum value of 2009 to above 35 for the years 2010 and 2011. In parallel, the ISI Impact Factor of these publications also shows a constant increase and its average (total impact factor divided by the number of papers) is consistently around 2.3 over the last three years in comparison to an average of 1.47 in the period before 2009 (again a positive PERL impact).

External Funding: R&D projects, services and government (matching) funds
EREL can in principle be considered as financially healthy. In general, the annual average of the attracted total external funding consistently exceeds 600,000 Euro over the last years. More specifically, external funding from competitive research activities reached the amount of 632,000 Euro in 2009 and has stabilized ever since at similar levels. The other two major funding sources (services to third parties and matching funds) come from within the country (various organizations and General Secretariat for Research and Technology, respectively) and are thus strongly influenced by the circumstances created by the severe economic crisis that hit Greece as of 2008. Concerning R&D services (indoor / outdoor air pollution, gas sorption in solid samples, hydrogen safety studies, etc) offered by EREL to public and private entities (mainly within Greece), it is observed that they remain at a satisfactory level despite their relative decrease compared to the period 2006-2008. On the other hand, the matching funds provided by the government have practically dropped to very low amounts in the PERL duration reflecting the dramatically reduced ability of the state to support R&D efforts. The main message here is that based on the impacts of PERL (in terms of capacity building via specialized personnel and equipment as well as via appropriate expansion of activities and networking), the Laboratory has managed in this extremely difficult period to keep its external income (from non-governmental sources) to a good level allowing it to escape so far the grave consequences of the crisis. The effort presently focuses on the sustainability of the current level of activity and funding taking advantage of the potential offered by PERL. Indeed most PERL impacts outlined below are expected to contribute toward that direction.
Upgraded infrastructure
EREL already performs continuous O3, SO2 and NOx measurements, sampling and chemical analysis of VOCs as well as PAH on particulate matter. Consequently, the addition of the above infrastructure makes EREL capable to measure the most significant inorganic and organic compounds in ambient air and gaseous samples. In addition, EREL has developed a fully equipped materials characterization laboratory for gas sorption applications (H2, CO2, CH4, etc) offering respective R&D services to a host of interested users. EREL (in cooperation with the Porous Media Group of NCSR Demokritos) has developed a specialized laboratory for the study of the sorption and transport properties of composite heterogeneous materials emphasizing on the development and characterization of nanoporous solids for gas (hydrogen, CO2, etc) storage applications and targeting to its continuous reinforcement and expansion to a wide range of environmental and energy applications. The available infrastructure comprises of modern, mainly complementary instrumentation that allows the performance of thorough gas storage measurements at different conditions. The currently available equipment items include an Intelligent Gravimetric Analyser (IGA, 77-600 K, High vacuum-20 bar), a magnetically suspended Rubotherm balance (high vac-200 bar, 77-1000 K), a commercial PCT volumetric system (0-170 bar, cryogenic to 600 K), a desorption-MS rig, a Setaram C80 gas tight Calvet Calorimeter (1-350 bar, ambient – 573 K), and a high-performance modular simultaneous TGA & DTA / DSC thermal analyzer (SETARAM SETSYS Evolution, ambient - 2400°C). The addition of the AUTOSORB®-1 low pressure (vac-1 bar) but extremely high resolution volumetric apparatus that was acquired with the support of the PERL project contributes definitely to the assembly of a rarely met toolbox offering a unique combination of volumetric, gravimetric and calorimetric techniques. These experimental facilities are thus expected to enhance the potential for service provision but mainly will allow the expansion of the research activities towards (a) the application of the developed methodologies in a variety of materials/processes (e.g. storage of gases, CO2 separation/sequestration etc.) and (b) the synthesis of specific types of nanostructured porous materials (e.g. nanocarbons, ordered mesoporous materials etc.) intended for applications such as the storage and/or separation of gases.
Other research and training activities
In the period 2005-2008, the following have been awarded for research conducted at EREL facilities:
3 Doctorate Degrees
3 Postgraduate Diplomas
7 University Diploma Theses
Over the last three years (2009-2011), the respective numbers are:
6 Doctorate Degrees
4 Postgraduate Diplomas
4 University Diploma Theses
The scientific staff of EREL assists in the review process of several international journals (Atmos. Environ., Bound. Layer Meteor., Chem. Eng. Comm., Int. J. Energy Research, J. Interf. Colloid Sci., J. Investigative Dermatology, J. Hazardous Mater., J. Heat Trans., JAWMA, Langmuir, SPEJ, Envir. Sci. Techn., JACS, Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, J. Phys. Chem., Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, etc).
EREL has been awarded with ISO 9001 for software development and use in atmospheric applications, as well as with accreditation according to EN 17025 for specific gas pollutant measurements (volatile organics, PAHs). It has also been accredited under the terms of ELOT EN ISO/IEC-17025 for sampling and measurement of particulate matter (PM10) in gaseous samples.
EREL staff participates in the organization of international conferences and workshops and is repeatedly invited (as external experts) by the EC and other organizations (US-DoE, French and Italian research authorities) for the evaluation of R&D proposals and monitoring of R&D projects and as keynote speakers in several international conferences.
As a direct consequence of PERL in the two major R&D directions concerned (air quality and hydrogen technologies), the Laboratory has had the following recent distinctions:
Participation in European Committee for Standardization (CEN)
PERL has contributed essentially to the active membership of EREL in CEN/TC264/WG15 (Ambient Air - Reference gravimetric measurement method and equivalence procedure for the determination of the PM2.5 microns mass fraction of suspended particulate matter).
The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) is a major provider of European Standards and technical specifications. It is the only recognized European organization according to Directive 98/34/EC for the planning, drafting and adoption of European Standards in all areas of economic activity with the exception of electro-technology and telecommunication. CEN's 31 National Members work together to develop voluntary European Standards (ENs). These standards have a unique status since they are also national standards in each of its 31 Member countries. With one common standard in all these countries and every conflicting national standard withdrawn, a product can reach a far wider market with much lower development and testing costs.
Member of the European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Facility (H2FC)
The Laboratory has been invited to become part of the European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Facility (H2FC). The relevant proposal to the European Commission has been approved and, as a result, EREL is presently one of the major European nodes for hydrogen storage measurements in solid materials providing transnational access to its facilities for sample testing, etc.
H2FC involves (besides storage) a number of other major facilities related to hydrogen production and safety, fuel cells durability and material testing that are spread throughout Europe and serve the purpose of assisting in the development and market deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for stationary and mobile applications.
Further PERL impacts
Submission of proposals
A substantially enhanced number of proposals have been submitted over the last three years with the participation of EREL to both national and international funding agencies . The majority of the proposals deal with collaborative R&D projects in the two major fields addressed by PERL, namely Environment (Air Quality) and Energy (Hydrogen Technologies), and involve consortia consisting of research groups and industrial partners. They have been mainly submitted to the European Commission FP7 and the Greek Secretariat for Research and Technology but also to other public and private organizations like the US-DoE, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), the Region of Attica, the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (Greece), etc.
Networking / Clusters / Visits to & from EREL
PERL has contributed towards enhanced levels of cooperation, contacts and exchanges between EREL and a number of research groups from Greece, Europe and overseas. Staff exchanges, joint proposal submissions, creation of clusters (at national and regional levels) and other forms of networking have been supported by PERL with positive overall impact on the capacity of EREL.
Expansion of activities
In the course of PERL, it has become evident that the new capabilities and tools of the Laboratory may serve nicely the expansion of its activities toward interesting directions such as safety / security (pollutant / toxic gas dispersion, risk assessment), climate change effects and mitigation, metal hydride compressors, etc. These spinoffs are well within the reach of the EREL staff and are currently pursued further in cooperation with partner organizations within and outside Greece. It is evident that such activities may provide clear opportunities for sustaining the created infrastructure in the coming periods.
Main Dissemination / Exploitation /Training Activities
The following actions have taken place in the reporting period:
1. Publications / Presentations in journals and conferences
2. Secondment of Dr. I. Kovalets from the Institute of Mathematical Machines and Systems Problems, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine,
3. Visit of Mr Zac Adelman from the Center for Environmental Modelling for Policy Development – University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, USA
4. Visit of a number of EREL staff members to Universities and Research Institutes
5. Training activities of EREL staff members
6. Organization of dedicated seminars (Cluster School)
7. Internal Training Sessions
8. Website

List of Websites:
Website:
PERL web site is operational while it undergoes further improvements. The site is currently
located at: http://www2.ipta.demokritos.gr/perl
Contact details:
Dr. Athanassios Stubos
Environmental Research Laboratory, National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos”
15310 Aghia Paraskevi Attikis, Greece
e-mail: stubos@ipta.demokritos.gr
Tel. +30 2106503447

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