Fraunhofer Explores Research Collaboration with JKUAT

Dr. Stefan confers with Prof. Kinyua during the meeting.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (Fraunhofer ICT)) is seeking a research collaboration centered on sustainability and renewable energy with the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

Fraunhofer ICT, based in Pfinztal, Germany, is one among the institutes that form the Fraunhofer Society, the largest application-oriented research organization in the world. It carries out research and development in their core competences of chemical processes, energy systems, explosive technology, drive systems, polymer technology and composite materials.

Speaking during a visit to the University on Monday 16 May, 2022, the institute’s Head of Department, Dr. Stefan Tröster, intimated their need to familiarize themselves with the research ecosystem in JKUAT and in the country as they work with the University towards an establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding.

The Fraunhofer delegation meet faculty members and students to discuss collaboration

“We settled on the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology based on our assessment of several universities and research institutions in the region. We were satisfied with the strong emphasis on research, as well as the strides covered by your College of Engineering and Technology. We are confident this will be a productive collaboration,” he said.

Speaking after receiving the delegation, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Prof. Robert Kinyua, expressed the university’s readiness to partner with the institute, and further strengthen the university’s linkage with the industry. He further lauded the multidisciplinary nature of research the collaboration promised, postulating that that is the future of academia.

“As a University, we identify as a research institution, and this means we have made a lot of deliberate investment in our research infrastructure, both materially, financially, and in the quality of our research partners, both local, regional and international. We are therefore ready for take-off in this journey of collaborating with you, creating new knowledge, innovating, and sharing experiences,” added Prof. Kinyua.

His Administration and Finance counterpart, Prof. Eng. Bernard Ikua, echoed his sentiments, adding that the College of Engineering and Technology already has a rich research ecosystem that the collaboration would build on.

Lukas Kriem (Fraunhofer IGB) makes a point during the meeting.

“We have for instance the Sustainable Energies, Entrepreneurship and Development (SEED) project that is funded by DAAD, and jointly implemented by JKUAT and the Technical University of Munich. This project has seen a mini-grid installed in the remote Olderkesi location in Narok which was initially off-grid. The community there will now have a clean, renewable source of energy. This is just an example of a research collaboration you can build on and learn from as we move forward,” he asserted.

The Fraunhofer delegation then proceeded for a day-long brainstorming meeting with faculty from the College of Engineering, which entailed presentations from both sides on possible areas of research, nature of partnership, and sustainability. The week-long visit also saw the delegation pay a courtesy call on various government parastatals that deal with energy, chief among them, the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC).

Even as deliberations continue towards a solid MoU between JKUAT and Fraunhofer ICT, a group of twelve researchers comprising lecturers and postgraduate students from the University will be headed to the German-based institute in June this year for an international summer school. The immersive program will entail training and expositions on thematic areas such as Energy Systems for mini-grids, Renewable Energy, Battery technologies, Hydroponics, Business models, and Sustainability, and industry collaboration.

Dr. Tröster was accompanied by Dr. Peter Fischer, who serves as the Group Leader, Redox-Flow Batteries, at the institute’s Division of Applied Electrochemistry, Prof. Muru Bruun, Prof. Dr. Jens Tübke, and Lukas Kriem (Fraunhofer IGB).

Comments are closed.