Søren Lyng Ebbehøj i laboratoriet på DTU Energikonvertering

What I did contributed more to society than writing an article

Søren Lyng Ebbehøj is senior advisor in Danish Energy Agenzy, but before that he researched in how to collect CO2 from the atmosphere and use it to produce fuel. A small piece of a huge puzzle, but in doing so he contributed more to society than just writing a new article. He liked that.

 Søren Lyng Ebbehøj is Special advisor in Danish Energy Agencyafter taking his PhD at DTU Energy. He was one of the first two students on the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells course at DTU Energy from a time, where courses took place both at Risø Campus and at DTU in Lyngby. It was a bit tricky due to the travel time, which incidentally is why the courses are currently taking place in DTU Lyngby.

"I also felt the lack of a student-environment at Risø Campus. The Master students were scattered, and no one really knew, where and how many they were, so I've had a large network of fellow students at DTU. I really missed that as a Master student. "

On the other hand he felt the academic content of the writing his thesis at Risø Campus as invaluable.

"It was when I started on the thesis, that I realized how open and welcoming the atmosphere at the entire Risø Campus is. There is a deep feeling that permeates everyone that we are together about this. Everyone helps everyone and all knowledge is important," says Søren Lyng Ebbehøj who shared his experiences with other students and found Risø Campus quite unique.

An inclusive atmosphere

"I have come to understand that the inclusive atmosphere here is rather unusual compared to other places, especially when talking to people from non-technical universities. They experience how two neighboring groups do not know what each other are doing and how they don’t really care. Not so here. Risø is a great place for a Master student and as a PhD, because you can knock on every door and everyone has always five minutes to help and give advice. I felt part of the group, participated in all meetings, I was always asked and everyone listened to what I said. It's pretty amazing. "

Best experience from DTU Energy:

Taking my Master at Risø taught me how scientific projects and experiments should be planned and executed. I knew it well in advance, but I learned, that you have to think everything through down to the smallest details in the beginning in order not avoid doing double work later. You have to know in advance, what you are doing before you do it.

Besides the science I learned about myself that I work best in collaboration with others, and through continuous dissemination of my material. The dialogue is important for me to keep up the pace, and for me to gain a full understanding of the substance. This was made clear in presentations, meetings and day-to-day sparring with supervisors and researchers at DTU Energy.

The open-door policy at Risø campus also led to Søren Lyng Ebbehøj having significantly more supervision than his friends had at other studies.

"It almost felt like an apprenticeship, as I could always go to my supervisor when I needed it, which is unlike other places where they have had a total of ten hours of supervision!"

Søren Lyng Ebbehøj likes the interdisciplinary nature that permeates everything at DTU Energy, where physicists need to know a little about chemistry, chemists need a little knowledge about physics, and everybody has to be able to understand each other’s field of research. This interdisciplinary approach open for joint efforts and better research, and Søren Lyng Ebbehøj was no stranger to this.

Wanted a practical approach

Søren Lyng Ebbehøj came to DTU from Nanoscience at the University of Copenhagen where the students also had to know a little about everything, from chemistry over physics and biology to mathematics, but the research was not as practically oriented at Nanoscience as DTU Energy is.

"It was a standing joke that everything on nanotech focused on either DNA computing, quantum computing or Cure for Cancer. I missed something with a five-year perspective. I wanted to see results. "

The hunt for perspective and results led Søren Lyng Ebbehøj to do a bachelor project on support materials for catalysts at Haldor Topsøe.

"It was nanotechnology, but it was also ceramic processing and materials chemistry, which is exactly the same as we do here at Risø. It was great because it mattered. What I did would be used for something. It made me consider switching tracks."

The rest, as they say, is history. Søren applied to Hydrogen and Fuel Cells study at DTU, came in, and after completion of his thesis project he continued at Risø Campus as PhD in a research project on collection of CO2 gases from the atmosphere, which are to be made into synthesis gas and finally into fuel. He finished his PhD in 2015 and is now special advisor in Danish Energy Agenzy.

"It's was great work. We worked on technologies that matters. My piece is perhaps a small piece of a huge puzzle, but what I did contributes more to society than just a new article. I like that, "says Søren Lyng Ebbehøj who always wanted to continue to a job in a think tank or a lobbying organization after his PhD.

"I like the lab work, but I wanted to work with the big picture and help influencing decision-makers and push the society in the right direction."