Peter Ngene - among Africa's most promising young scientists
Chemist Peter Ngene (UU PhD Nanomaterials, 2012) was appointed as one of the Next Einstein Forum Fellows 2017-2019. This prize is awarded to Africa's best and most promising young scientists. He received the award from Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda and currently president of the African Union.
Ngene is a researcher and assistant professor at Utrecht University and is working on new materials for the storage of energy that will enable the energy revolution that the world is hoping for. In 2016 he won the Van Arkel Prize for his PhD research. Recently he was the first author of a publication on the detection of hydrogen, an important carrier of sustainably generated energy.
We spoke with him about his work and his connection to UU.
one of the best ways to learn is to teach
Can you tell us more about your work? What is the impact of your research?
One of the major challenges of our time is to achieve environmental and energy sustainability. My research aims to develop novel energy storage materials that will enable a sustainable environment by facilitating the use of energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar. Wide scale deployment of renewable/sustainable energy technologies will eliminate or significantly reduce the emission of carbon dioxide associated with the current use of fossil fuels. This emission has been shown to be responsible for the global warming which leads to adverse environmental effects. A major problem with renewable energy sources is that they are intermittent and therefore needs to be stored when available so that they can be used at any desired time. A major focus of my work is the development of novel materials for high capacity and safe recharging batteries for large scale electricity storage and for electric/hybrid vehicles, materials for hydrogen fuel cell technologies and for the conversion of the carbon dioxide (which is a major environmental pollutant from fossil fuels) into useful products such as fuels and chemicals.
A major problem with renewable energy sources is that they are intermittent
How did studying at Utrecht University contribute to your own progress?
I was mentored by excellent professors who are among the world leading experts in the field of materials for energy storage and catalysis. The availability of state-of-the art facilities in the university and collaborations with other Dutch universities played a big role in developing and sharpening my scientific skills.
How do you experience teaching current UU students?
I enjoy teaching. It has been very interesting and rewarding because one of the best ways to learn is to teach. Teaching has deepened my understanding of the fundamentals of the field due to very interactive atmosphere in the classrooms.