New interdisciplinary research on the Nile
27 October 2012
Three new research projects have started this autumn at the interdisciplinary Pufendorf Institute. They deal largely with the challenges facing the world, with a growing population and increasing shortage of resources such as oil and water.
“Hydrosolidarity” is the title of one project, which is about the Nile and the increasingly populous countries along this very long river. How is the water of the Nile supposed to stretch to a population that is expected to double over the next 30 years?
There are clear risks of armed conflicts when demand for water increases. Nevertheless, there may be ways of resolving conflict peacefully if models can be found to help people and governments to use the water of the Nile in a way that shows solidarity and perseverance. The project involves researchers from six different faculties and is led by senior lecturer Dan-Erik Andersson, Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, and Professor Ronny Berndtsson, Division of Water Resources Engineering.
“The Generational Goal” is another new project that focuses on consumption patterns and their environmental impact. The name comes from a promise made by the Swedish Parliament in 2010. It states that Sweden will leave a society to the next generation in which we have solved our major environmental problems without increasing environmental or health problems outside Sweden’s borders.
“It is a very ambitious goal considering that a ‘generation’ is usually calculated as 25 years. Will Sweden manage it?” says Astrid Kander, project manager and Professor of Economic History.
Helping her to lead the project are Professor Oksana Mont from the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics and Magnus Jiborn, a journalist and Doctor of Philosophy.
The project, which involves researchers from eight disciplines at five faculties, focuses on basic research. Nonetheless, it is hoped that the results could form the basis for political decisions. The ambition is also to communicate the research to a wide audience. The project will organise public seminars and make efforts to reach its audiences through the media and books on the issues.
Is it possible to take inspiration from living organisms to find new ways of creating kinetic energy?
Today we usually use fossil fuels to generate such energy, for example in cars. This is the idea behind the third project, which is entitled “Bio-Inspired Energy Conversion”. It is headed by Professor Öivind Andersson from the Division of Combustion Engines at the Faculty of Engineering. Last semester he was involved in a project at the Pufendorf Institute on soot, and he got a taste for the interdisciplinary method of working:
“This new project is about energy conversion – i.e. converting chemical energy to kinetic energy to make a motor turn. We are a cheerful group of biologists, medics, nanophysicists and engineers who work on energy conversion within very different fields. In short, you could say that we hope to learn from one another and find new approaches and new interdisciplinary research fields”, says Öivind Andersson.
As well as these new projects, a number of previous projects are continuing, including one on the European Spallation Source (ESS). There are also both new and old advanced study groups in subjects such as water, forest use, future classrooms and astrobiology.
Text: Britta Collberg