The mission of CERENA is to host research carried out at the highest excellence level, related to the sustainable use of natural resources, including energy, as well as their impact on the environment.
CERENA aims at using an approach that is simultaneously integrative, multidisciplinary and multi-scale approach, going from the molecular level up to the planetary scale, where researchers with different backgrounds converge on the same objectives.
CERENA has recently experienced a considerably enlargement of its competences and skills with the admission of new members from different scientific fields which has complemented the capabilities for tackling the upcoming societal challenges namely the ones related with climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials, secure, clean and efficient energy and also health and wellbeing.
Currently, CERENA is a medium size R&D unit with 50 fully integrated researchers coming from various scientific fields such as mining engineering, geosciences, chemical engineering and geophysics among others gathered either by a common field of application and/or by the methodological approaches. The team accounts with 51 PhD students and about 40 other researchers. CERENA is hosted by two institutions: Instituto Superior Técnico (main host) from University of Lisbon (Técnico/ULisboa) and Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (FEUP).
During 2014 a major reorganization of the center structure will be carried out with the objective of promoting and consolidating collaborations between researchers to achieve the 6-years strategic CERENA goals.
The proposed CERENA governance model will be based on a matrix organization where researchers will be aggregated by three main scientific application areas/groups :
Raw Materials, Environment and Energy with three main strategic thematic strands:
Oil&Gas, Evaluation&Valorization of Resources and Natural&Technological Hazards.
Each one of these matrix entrances will have a principal investigator that will coordinate researchers’ activities in order to accomplish the objectives and develop the scientific plan defined by the strategic program.
The Raw Materials Group will develop research on mineral resources (exploration, extraction, processing, metallurgy and mine closure and remediation, in an integrated life-cycle approach to their sustainable valorisation), secondary raw materials (application of mineral processing techniques, hydrometallurgical and bio- hydrometallurgical processes to recycle, reuse and recover basic metals, high-tech metals, plastics and glass from landfills, tailings and mining wastes, or wastes in general in a more efficient and sustainable way) and on the development and valorisation of new materials environmentally friendly or/and with economic and innovative potential.
The Energy Group will develop research aiming at hydrocarbons (advanced methods for their exploration, evaluation, production and refining, especially contributing for the decarbonisation of the use of fossil fuels), low-carbon energy (low and deep geothermal energy particularly in demonstration of its efficient use for heating and cooling buildings and development of technologies for producing biofuels and sustainable alternative fuels), waste-to-energy (development of processes) and energy efficiency (from the petroleum and mining production up to the processing in the plants, using approaches like process intensification, energy consumption reduction and optimization).
The Environment Group, will develop research on characterization, management and protection of natural resources (water, air, biomass, soil, biodiversity and ecosystems), including modeling natural and technological hazards, characterization of the causes, evolution and consequences of climate change on ecosystems, development of sustained global environmental observation and information systems, and on environmental health.
CERENA’s research is mainly applied and experimental, based on an high laboratorial intensity level. Thus, the major structure will be supported by the laboratorial resources which have a vast set of competences which serve all groups and thematic strands: Chemical Analysis, Separation Processes, Hydrometallurgy, Process Optimization for Energy Efficiency and Technology, Organic Synthesis and Raw Materials Processing, Ore and Solid Waste Processing, Geomechanics, Mineralogy, Petrology, Geochemistry, Seismology, Geomathics and Petroleum Reservoir Modelling. This new CERENA ‘s configuration and enlarged competences makes this Center unique at national level, since it gathers the existent human and material resources from the only two schools in Portugal offering training and developing research in Mining Engineering and Petroleum Engineering(upstream and downstream).
One of the most relevant achievements of CERENA has been the capacity to relate with industry, proposing new, innovative and competitive solutions, in all fields where the Centre has competences. This reflects in the high number of joint projects with industry and in the ability to obtain funding from competitive national and international calls and/or directly from industry, which we intend to keep pursuing.
Participation in international partnerships has also been an important strategy to improve our scientific indicators and to bring CERENA to a higher level of internationalization. Promoting the mobility of our researchers with other international R&D units will also put forward new international scientific collaborations and new opportunities to apply to competitive funding calls. CERENA will continue to host the organization of high level international conferences.
CERENA’s researchers will continue to be actively involved in advanced training mainly through Master and Doctoral Programmes offered by host institutions, but also through courses and workshops promoted by CERENA specifically dedicated to transfer technology to industry.