The University of Vaasa in Western Finland is inviting knowledge partners from around the world to join its open, multi-disciplinary research and innovation platform on energy and sustainability issues. Inaugurated on 16 May 2018, Vaasa Energy Business Innovation Centre VEBIC brings together know-how from the research and business communities to address global challenges related to efficient energy production, energy business and sustainable development. VEBIC already has over 30 partner companies and organisations.
VEBIC’s facilities include two laboratories for research on the internal combustion engine and fuel development, both located at the university’s Palosaari campus. According to VEBIC, research projects can focus, for example, on renewable fuels, flexible energy production, the electrical systems of engine-driven power plants, reducing the waste energy and emissions of energy production, and the societal and economic issues concerning the energy sector.
“VEBIC is a unique research infrastructure in its field. The engine and fuel laboratories, which operate closely together, form a research complex that enables top-level research. What is also unique is that the financing for the new laboratory complex comes from both the private and the public sector,” said Jari Kuusisto, Rector of the University of Vaasa, at the inauguration.
Engine laboratory is up and running
The first tests have already been run with the VEBIC engine laboratory’s ship engine in connection with the EU-funded HERCULES-2 research project which aims to develop the fuel flexibility of engines, reduce emissions, and improve engine control and parameter systems.
A hybrid power plant solution will be built in VEBIC’s engine laboratory in connection with the INTENS research project to boost the digitalisation of the Finnish marine sector. The machinery will be modelled and a digital twin will be built to help optimise and monitor the operation of the power plant.
“Hybrid solutions are an essential part of future energy systems. Using models and digital twins makes energy use more efficient, helps in minimising maintenance needs, and accelerates the optimisation of the machinery in changing circumstances,” says Seppo Niemi, Professor in Energy Technology, University of Vaasa, in a statement.
Vaasa region’s dynamic energy cluster
The Vaasa region is the leading energy technology cluster in the Nordics and includes major technology companies like ABB, Wärtsilä, Danfoss and about 60 SMEs. The turnover of the energy industry in the region is EUR 4.4 billion, with exports accounting for 70% of the total.
“VEBIC is yet another concrete contribution that further strengthens the energy cluster in Vaasa. The centre creates an excellent platform to boost innovation among the broad range of already participating organisations and will also attract new companies to join in and benefit from the dynamic cluster,” says Vesa Koivisto, Head of Industry, Cleantech & Bioeconomy, Invest in Finland, Business Finland.