FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Engenharia Mecânica

Unidade de I&D

Unidade de Novas Tecnologias Energéticas [MECH-Norte-Porto-766] visitada em 02/04/2008

Classificação: Fair

Reapreciação

Comentários do Painel de reapreciação

Basis of Re-evaluation

FCT appointed three individuals to perform a re-evaluation of the Unit following a request to do so, in which it was noted that the previous assessment had been “Good” and suggested that for the period 2003-07 the Unit had increased the number of members, doubled the scientific output, had attracted international funding and increased the number of PhD’s completed from zero to three.

The FCT provided individual members of the re-evaluation team with the original submission made by the Unit for the period 2003 to 2007, the letter requesting the re-evaluation, and the scoring scheme that was used for the evaluation. Unlike the original evaluation, the re-evaluation was done using only these materials. It is noted that the original evaluation included a site visit and interviews. It is also observed that this re-evaluation is made about two years after the initial evaluation so that current perceptions may be different from those made then.

The re-evaluation team has endeavoured to assess the Unit as objectively as possible but notes that it did not have the same means to calibrate their assessment against the large number of Units that were assessed in the initial exercise.

General Observations

The unit consists of one Group:

  • Unidade de Novas Tecnologias Energeticas (766 - 399)

Since the Unit has only one Research Group a single report covering both the submissions for the Unit and research Group is provided below.

Over the evaluation period the average number of Integrated Researchers is 4.5 FTE. There are 6 Integrated Researchers named in the submission.

The objectives of the Unit are to perform fundamental and applied research in the fields of sustainable energy and low carbon technologies. The Unit has participated in four EU-funded projects including TRI-GEN EGD in which it acted as the general coordinator.

The Unit has been successful at winning research funds from a variety of sources, totalling about 300k€. In addition, funds have been obtained through the provision of training courses and consultancies.

Productivity: Fair

The output is about 1 paper in peer-reviewed journals, and 1.3 conference publications per FTE Integrated Researcher per year. The ten peer-review papers listed have an average impact factor of about 0.7 and average citation rate of 0.7. In addition, the group has also published in conferences and has contributed to the organisation of some scientific events. However, the group has to increase the impact of their papers by publishing in the major journals of their field of research.

Relevance: Good

It is noted that co-ordinator is an Executive Co-editor of the International Journal for Low Carbon Technologies. This journal has established itself with regular editions under the aegis of the Oxford University Press. The research tends to have some fundamental topics (like micro-PCM fluid) but more applied ones. The academic output is complemented by prototypes, which constitute potentially interesting bases for future projects and collaborations with companies. The team is encouraged to focus on one or two topics, not more, because it is necessary to demonstrate significant contributions in a given topic to become really visible, and a leader, at the international level.

Feasibility: Good

The Unit operates at local, national and international levels with an extensive list of partnering organisations (academic and industrial) in Greece, India, Italy, Israel, Poland, Spain, and UK. They are hoping to establish collaborations in China, Japan and Korea. Once again, it would be better to concentrate on sustainable collaboration with effective co-supervision of research instead of trying to develop a large number of contacts that are not really productive with regard to the mid and long term vision. The experience of European projects shows that a sustainable group of partners is achievable. It would be unreasonable to conclude that the successes obtained with the European projects depended only on the quality and the reputation of one partner. Given the number of active projects, the group should be much more ambitious in the quantity and the quality of the publications, including collaborative papers and PhDs.

Training: Fair

Relative to the productivity level and the number of FTE Integrated Researchers the number of graduate theses (2 PhD and 3 MSc) completed during the evaluation period is low. Both PhD graduates who completed their theses in 2005 are now Integrated Researchers in the Unit. The volume of students trained through Masters and PhD programmes is, therefore, an area for improvement. It is noted that the Unit aims to increase the number of PhD students in the next period. The group should develop more co-supervised PhDs within their projects. The contributions through outreach activities are modest.

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
This research group consists of 6 Ph.D. researchers who carry out applied research in sustainable energy and low carbon technologies, with the goal of rationalizing energy consumption and reducing harmful emissions. The research resulted in 17 publications in refereed journals and 24 in conference proceedings, as well as 3 Ph.D. and 2 M.S. theses.
The group also helped to organize conferences within the Sustainable Energy Technologies Conference series, the 2003 and 2005 Portugal-Mozambique Engineering Congress, and served in scientific committees of other conferences. It is also involved in European projects and appears to have good collaborations with India.
This is a small group who addresses a potentially important subject. The research is mostly applied.
The mission of this unit is to perform research (both fundamental and applied) in the areas of sustainable energy and low carbon technologies. This unit is composed of a single group whose research consists of three main projects. The first project focuses on the study of an EGD power converter which converts kinetic and internal energy into electricity without moving parts by charging particles and transporting them at high velocity. Numerical simulations were carried out for this device by simulating the particulate flow using FLUENT, as well as taking into account the electric field. The second project consists of the theoretical and experimental analysis of new micro-PCM fluid for cold storage, particularly aiming at determining heat transfer coefficients. Finally, a new experimental probe, equipped with sonic jets, was developed to measure air flow rates in ventilation ducts at downstream distances shorter than those at which traditional Pitot tubes are reliable.
Although the unit’s stated mission is to perform fundamental research, the focus appears to be on applied research. This research was not found to be competitive at an international level. While the unit has a reasonable number of publications in international journals, the journals tend to have a low impact factor and the team’s papers show quite a low number of citations. The involvement of the team in the launching of a new journal, International Journal of Low Carbon Emission, is commendable, although it is not clear yet whether this journal has the potential to attract papers of high quality.
The education aspect of the unit was also found to be below average. Only two part-time Ph.D. and two M.Sc. students are currently performing research within this unit. The team seems to rely on post-docs who have been there for a long time (since 1999-2000).
While it is clear that the unit is making an effort to collaborate at the international level through European projects, its role within these larger collaborations is not clear. Moreover, while there are some partnerships with local industries, they seem to be minimal. In summary, the unit does not seem competitive.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
New Energy Technologies [RG-MECH-Norte-Porto-766-399]

Comentários da unidade

It was with surprise and disbelief that the Unit knew the evaluation outcome. According to us, the final result (Fair) is totally unsustainable, taking into account the scientific activity during the evaluation period and its comparison with the previous evaluation period and result (Good).
During this period (2003-06) the Unit increased the number of members (namelly with PhD), doubled the scientific production (from 0.5 to 1 paper in refereed international journals per year and per PhD), carried on 3 new research projects funded by the European Commission (1 as Coordinator), produced 3 PhD theses (against 0 in the previous period), co-organised numerous international scientific conferences and actively participated in the launching of a new international scientific journal (which after 1 year was already included in the Scopus and Compendex databases).
By all criteria, the evaluation result should be better and not worse than the prrevious one.
As the evaluation panel members are virtually the same as in the last evaluation process (including its President), the comparison is even stranger. Therefore, the Unit asks for a revision of the evaluation process, if necessary with a new evaluation panel.