A perfect place for the transition from student to researcher

Theis Løye Skafte does his thesis at the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage. He can’t participate as much as usual at the students Friday bar, but he gained access to highly advanced equipment and world class knowledge instead.

Test stations crowds the laboratory at building 227 at Risø Campus, but Theis Løye Skafte feels quite at home between the glass cabinets, the pipes and wires, He nods to a senior researcher and a PhD-student while he gently open test rig 32, called the Pacific.

This rig will be his for the day, as he will be testing more of the electrodes, which he designs and develops as part of his thesis in Sustainable Energy at the Department of Energy Conversion and Storage, DTU.

"One of the best reasons for doing my master here at Risø Campus is the almost unlimited access to a lot of equipment and machines that I would otherwise not have had access to at DTU in Lyngby," says Theis.

"We have XRD machine, SEM microscopes and test stations for impedance spectroscopy in addition to all those machines that I use when producing materials for my electrodes."

Theis adjusts the measuring instruments expertly while smiling. He is one of the graduate students, who have forsaken the Friday bar and the social life with his fellow students at DTU's huge campus in Lyngby for the much smaller campus with significantly fewer fellow students at Risø Campus close to Roskilde Fjord. All in the name of better studies and better science.

Three supervisors are better than one

"It's incredibly exciting to be here and I see it as a perfect place to experience the transition from student to scientist. Of course I have fewer fellow graduate students here than in Lyngby, but I study among PhD students almost my own age instead, "says 26-year-old Theis. And even if their studies and know-how are more advanced, both the PhD-students and the researchers treat Theis as one of their own.

"You'll find no better place as a student. I mean. Sure they have laboratories in Lyngby, but the microscopes are not as good and the equipment is not as advanced as here, and although I am only a graduate student, I have access to all of it as soon as I cleared the security courses. Also I have three supervisors, and you don’t get that in many other places."

Theis started out reading physics at the University of Copenhagen before doing his Master's at DTU in Lyngby, so he knows, what he's talking about. So he plans to stay at Risø, at least until after his PhD.

"I didn’t really know what I was going to use physics for, when I studied it at the University, but then I got interested in sustainable energy and found out, that I would deal with fuel cells."

PEM fuel cells (proton exchange membrane) can be learned at DTU in Lyngby, but Theis wanted to work with high-temperature SOFCs (solid oxide fuel cells) which makes the Department for Energy Conversion and Storage at Risø Campus the only option.

Recommend reading at Risø Campus

"First, I took a three-week summer course in experimental SOFC and electrolysis at Risø. Then I worked as a summer assistant at a project here. And finally I got permission to make my thesis here. "

Theis close rig 32. The setup is in place for this afternoon's test and while changing his coat, he thinks about the disadvantages of studying at Risø Campus. He has a hard time finding any. It takes an hour and a half depending on the bus and train to get from his home at Nørrebro to Risø, but Theis use the time for homework and articles that he would not otherwise find the time to read.

"All considering I would definitely recommend everybody to read their master here," says Theis.