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Estonian Research Projects

Project Leader: Siim Veski

Duration: 01.01.2019-31.12.2023

Additional information in ERIS.

The climate is projected to change, with an especially high temperature rise expected for high latitudes. Terrestrial vegetation provides resources and habitat for other members of the ecosystem and any time-lags in vegetation response to climate change can potentially lead to severe losses of biodiversity. This project will use an inter-disciplinary approach combining state-of-the-art palaeoecological proxy-based reconstructions of past vegetation composition and independently determined climate dynamics with dynamic vegetation modelling, to identify the effects of natural biological processes (migration, competition) and abiotic factors (climate, nutrient availability, disturbance) in creating time-lags in vegetation dynamics during the late- and post-glacial time in Northern Europe. The results will enable us to assess the importance of individual factors and their interactions for species response to a changing climate forming a scientifically sound basis for future predictions.

Project Leader: Rutt Hints

Duration: 01.07.2020-28.02.2023

Additional information in ERIS.

Estonian Tremadocian black shales are potential future resources of vanadium ‒ a critical raw material for novel battery technologies. The project aims to clarify genetic factors, which supported development of high vanadium enrichment in these black shales through combined geochemical, mineralogical and geological studies (including in situ mapping of V distribution with handheld XRF, organic petrography, XRF, ICP-MS, XRD, SEM-EDS, CHN element analysis, stable isotope MS), to define carrier phases and/or complexes of V, and to specify speciation of V in organometallic or/and mineral compounds using synchrotron-based x-ray spectroscopy and x-ray absorption spectroscopy. The pilot investigations on extraction of V from the black shales will be conducted as part of the project. The expected results will improve understanding on V extraction potential and support development of efficient valorization technologies for the metal.

Project Leader: Atko Heinsalu

Duration: 01.01.2019-31.12.2021 

Additional information in ERIS.

Project Leader: Olle Hints

Duration: 01.01.2016-31.12.2021 

Additional information in ERIS.

The natural sciences archives or bio- and georepositories are collections of protists, plants, fungi, animals and rocks, documenting the diversity and development (both in time and space) of the living and non-living nature of our planet. Collections constitute the foundation for the classification of living nature, which in turn constitutes the foundation for other branches of life sciences, and for broad-based environmental education as well. The natural sciences collections also have importance in attending to several practical issues, as monitoring environmental and climate change, analysing distribution of invasive species, organising nature conservation or studying mineral resources. Human knowledge of our environment is still rather very moderate, both globally and locally, even of our own Estonian nature. This results firstly from the singularly great diversity of living nature – the number of species in the world today is estimated to be tens of millions. Considering the habitats of species, their ecosystem, genes, extinct species etc, the amount of information grows progressively. Of this great amount of information, infinitesimally little is known. Secondly, the known is fragmented between databases, publications, natural sciences collections and other data mediums, that are hardly ever able to exchange information with one another. For that reason, no general infrastructure yet exists, which would enable the researcher, the politician, the teacher, anyone to ask both general and specific questions about the current state of surrounding ecosystems. In order to help solving these problems, NATARC is developing the central infrastructure of bio- and georepositories, consisting of repositories that correspond to international standards and of facilities needed for storing, research and databasing the collections. In addition to repositories NATARC is developing a public information system that is able to use most of the existing information about Estonian biodiversity in carrying out its analyses. This ability is essential in order to manage nature conservation problems, to monitor living nature, to discover changes of biota resulting from climate change, etc. In addition to digital information system it is important regularly to store in natural sciences collections either whole organisms or their DNA. Based on these, changes in biota can be analysed, focusing on changes of taxons, of genes or of chemical compounds. The greatest natural science collections in Estonia reside in the University of Tartu, in the Estonian University of Life Sciences, in the Tallinn University of Technology and in the Estonian Museum of Natural History. The conditions in collection repositories are very different in separate institutions and also differ by specific fields of study. The preservation of all the scientifically valuable collections in the long term is not granted. The partner institutions of NATARC are the University of Tartu, the Estonian University of Life Sciences, the Tallinn University of Technology, the Tallinn Univesity, the Environment Agency and the Estonian Museum of Natural History. This project directly associates with different international projects and infrastructures (e.g. GEO BON and EU BON, LifeWATCH, CETAF, GBIF).

Project Leader: Olle Hints

Duration: 01.07.2020-30.06.2023 

Additional information in ERIS.

DiSSCo Estonia aims at building readiness of Estonian institutions holding natural history collections and data to join the pan-European ESFRI Roadmap infrastructure "Distributed System of Scientific Collections (DiSSCo)". Responsibility of TalTech is to ensure alignment of Estonian geoscience collections and databases with European standards and contribute to the development of GeoCASe (Geosciences Collections Access Service) network and data access gateway.

Project Leader: Olga Lisitsyna

Duration: 01.12.2019-30.11.2021

Additional information in ERIS.

The climate and land use changes are considered as one of the main threats to global ecosystems functioning today. Studies of past land-cover help to predict the responses of the ecosystems to climate and human-induced changes in the future. Pollen-based reconstructions are the most reliable sources of information on past vegetation composition and land use. The project aims to reconstruct vegetation and land use dynamics during the last millennium in a particularly sensitive, but poorly studied, area at a border between boreal and tundra biomes, in north-eastern Europe, using a novel pollen based land cover reconstruction methodology. The project will produce an unique set of region specific relative pollen productivity estimates and past vegetation and land use dynamics reconstruction of the area. Both outcomes will be essential inputs to number of regional and global scale investigations dealing with climate-vegetation-landuse interactions.

Project Leader: Leeli Amon

Duration: 01.11.2019-31.12.2021

Additional information in ERIS.

 

The postglacial climate of northern Europe and northern North America has been varying. Paleo-ecological methods clarify the environmental and vegetation response to climatic changes in the past. Ongoing research provides new insights into the impact of postglacial climate fluctuations on the past hydrological conditions across Europe. Only few studies from the other side of the Atlantic, northeastern North America, address this topic. The shifts in the growing season and phenology, known signs of climate change, are rarely used as paleo-ecological indicators. The proposed project combines multiple paleo-ecological methods (compound-specific hydrogen isotope analyses for the hydrological changes; micro-phenology of subfossil leaves for vegetation timing and seasonality patterns; sedimentary organic carbon isotopes for the carbon cycling) from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to reveal the effects of postglacial warming episodes on the environment, hydrology and vegetation.

Project Leader: Joonas Pärn

Duration: 01.03.2020-31.03.2022

Additional information in ERIS.

Agricultural nitrate pollution in groundwater is one of the key factors in deteriorating the status of groundwater dependent aquatic ecosystems and in the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. However, the sources of nitrate in groundwater subsurface have not been rigorously studied in Estonia nor its natural remediation or travel times. The proposed study aims to identify the origin of nitrate and other nutrients (phosphorus) in groundwater of the nitrate vulnerable zone (NVZ) in Pandivere Upland and the processes that modify their concentrations. For this, chemical and isotopic composition of groundwater and its constituents (nitrate, sulfate), solute transport and the groundwater age distribution will be studied. The results would help to evaluate the current and future measures tackling agricultural nitrate pollution, to maintain sustainable agricultural production in the NVZ and to enhance the status of groundwater dependent ecosystems and the Baltic Sea.

Project Leader: Rein Vaikmäe

Duration: 12.02.2021-31.12.2021

Additional information in ERIS.

The main objectives of this project are to determine the origin and diagenetic evolution of brines in the deepest aquifer systems of the Baltic sedimentary basin aiming to confirm the feasibility and safety of using the brines for storing CO2, energy and radioactive waste in deep structures of the basin. One task of the project is to date brines and uncover the flow dynamics of their system on a timescale of more than a million years. The second task is to study if and to what extent subglacial meltwater from alternatingly growing and melting ice sheets has modified chemical and isotopic composition and flow dynamics of the brines during the Quaternary. A wide complex of environmental isotopes, noble gases(including 81Kr and 39Ar dating tools)and groundwater chemistry data via coupled analysis of groundwater flow numerical models will be applied. The expected results will increase public perception and faster implementation of CO2 and energy storage technology in the Baltic region.

Horizon2020 Projects

Project Leader: Michael Hitch

Duration: 01.11.2020-31.10.2023

Additional information in ERIS.

In order to foster more, but sustainable mineral production in the EU, SUMEX (SUstainable Management in EXtractive industries) will establish a sustainability framework for the extractive industry in Europe. It does so by considering the Sustainable Development Goals, the European Green Deal, as well as EU Social License to Operate considerations and will involve stakeholders from industry, government, academia and civil society backgrounds from all across the EU. This framework is then applied across the extractive value chain to analyse the mineral, as well as relevant economic, environmental and social policy frameworks of the EU, member states and selected regions along five focus areas - socioeconomic and environmental impact assessments, land use planning, health and safety, reporting official statistics and permitting processes/policy integration-to find, or build, where needed, good practices or tools for an open access toolkit, which will be embedded in a broader Community of Practise (CoP) and which forms the basis for capacity building. This CoP will consider relevant stakeholder groups, with a focus on permitting authorities, across the EU, providing a digital platform and using a series of workshops and webinars. In SUMEX, the experience from other projects like MINGUIDE, MINLAND, MIREU, STRADE builds a powerful foundation for addressing the challenge of how best to implement sustainability considerations into the whole raw materials value chain. What makes SUMEX stand out, is that a) it involves Andalusia as a regional partner to act as 1) a test case and 2) to involve other regions, i.e. those represented in MIREU and the OECD Mining Regions and Cities Initiative, to participate in SUMEX; as well as having access to the informal network of mining authorities and b) by employing two practical use cases, involving industry partners, for two important and completely different raw material groups – construction and battery materials.

cleanker logo

Project Leader: Alla Šogenova

Duration: 01.10.2017-31.03.2023

Additional information in ERIS.

The cement industry is a key-sector for the reduction of CO2 emissions. Cement production is responsible for about 27% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions from industrial sources worldwide. The focus of CLEANKER is demonstrating the feasibility of the integrated Ca-Looping process at industrial scale in a new demo system treating 4.000 m3/h of flue gas emitted by the Buzzi Unicem cement plant in Vernasca (Piacenza, Italy). Project is coordinated by L.E.A.P. (Laboratory for Energy and Environment) from Italy. Project consortium is composed from 13 partners from 7 countries including two departments from Tallinn University of Technology (Department of Geology and Department of Materials and Environmental Technology: Laboratory of Inorganic Materials). TTÜ is a coordinator of the Work Package 7 (Transport, utilization and storage study) including 7 tasks and 7 deliverables. Among these tasks are: Techno-economic modelling of selected local and regional CCUS scenarios for Vernasca, Kunda and Slantsy cement plants (TTÜ-GI); Lab-scale experiments on waste oils shale ash and CDW carbonation and recommendations for the design of the mineralization reactor in Vernasca (TTÜ-MK); Producing of concrete using waste materials from cement plants and CaLooped CO2 trapped in the Vernasca demo system will be finaly demostrated in the project.

Other participants from the Department of Geology: Kazbulat Šogenov and Jüri Ivask

Project Leader: Veiko Karu

Duration: 01.04.2019-31.08.2022

Additional information in ERIS.

EIT Raw Materials vision is to realising the turnaround: To develop raw materials into a major strength for Europe. EIT Raw Materials mission is to boost the competiveness, growth and attractiveness of the European raw materials sector via radical innovation and entrepreneurship. EIT RawMaterials is the best breeding ground for: talents, education, capital, ideas, start-ups, products and services for the raw materials market. The EIT Raw Materials consortium is the strongest that has ever been built in the field of raw materials. Since 01.01.2018 Tallinn University of Technology is Core Partner of the EIT Raw Materials.

Project Leader: Michael Hitch

Duration: 01.01.2019-31.12.2021 

Additional information in ERIS.

MiReBooks is a new digital learning experience that will change the way we teach, learn and subsequently apply mining. By taking traditional paper based education material and enriching it with virtual and augmented reality based experiences (Mixed Reality) teachers can now convey and students now experience phenomena in the classroom that are usually not easily accessible in the real world. Complex issues of mining are no longer a challenging barrier for learning progress and students complete their studies with a more thorough comprehension of their discipline. Through thought through pedagogic inclusion in teaching plans students will be able to take advantage of new ways of participation that are suitable for the needs of their generation. With MiReBooks the way of teaching will change as instructors will be able engage their students in a more effective way and offer them an enriched content repertoire as well as a hightened comprehension opportunity. The array of possible industrial mine environment examples that students can be immersed into becomes endless and thus the industry will receive graduates that are familiarized in-depth with a holistic view on the industrial context. Students will enter the job market skilled as digital natives and highly influence the way the industry will work and develop in this way in the future. Mixed Reality is certainly a most promising way to enable users to make the most of their learning experience and thus leverage the improvement of operational efficiencies and innovation. The tool is hence also attractive for industry application in professional training to bring existing employees up to speed with the latest standards. MiReBooks will be the lubricant of change and innovation in the mining sector in terms of society and environment, safe and healthy working conditions and mining processes and equipment.

Project Leader: Michael Hitch

Duration: 01.01.2020-31.12.2021

Additional information in ERIS.

Mining by its very nature disturbs the land and has a significant influence on what the post-mining landscape and land use becomes. Traditional reclamation practices have been, in the case of formally rehabilitated sites, to return the land to as much of an original condition as possible. In cases of abandoned or mine sites that received minimal or no formal rehabilitation efforts, this becomes more problematic. The locally affected community has the closest attachment to these landscapes and it is their best interest to be part of the decision-making process; one that considers the social, economic and biophysical implications of any closure and rehabilitation plan. For example, the local community may want to retain some of the man-made aspects of the mine site (e.g. pits or waste dumps) for their aesthetic or recreational value and to promote tourism as secondary land use. The key is the active participation and the extension of the Social Licence to Operate through mine closure and site rehabilitation and for them to play an active role in the ultimate post-mining landscape and land use.

Project Leader: Michael Hitch

Duration: 01.11.2019-31.10.2023

Additional information in ERIS.

The project will set up an international platform on responsible sourcing (RS) that: 1. facilitates the development of a globally accepted definition of RS, 2. develops ideas for incentives facilitating responsible business conduct in the EU, supporting RS initiatives, 3. enables exchange of stakeholders for information exchange and promotion, 4. fosters the emergence of RS in international political fora, and 5. supports the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials. To achieve the above mentioned objectives, the platform will connect experts and stakeholders by means of a physical element (“Platform Spaces”) and digital element (“Digital Ground”): The Platform Spaces will allow practitioners (i) to gain a hands-on and peer-to-peer learning experience in workshops and site visits to exchange and learn from enabling factors, instruments and tools facilitating RS initiatives and business conduct for practitioners, and (ii) to engage with stakeholders at international conferences to further the concept of RS on the global political agenda. The Digital Ground will (i) enable, through innovative digital tools such as digital conference spaces and webinars, more easily connect international players and engage them in networking, promotion and information exchange activities, and (ii) synthesise and make easily accessible ideas that incentivise RS initiatives and responsible business conduct. The proposed project will feature important Flagship Cases of mature and well-established RS initiatives for raw materials highly relevant for Europe’s future energy, mobility and infrastructure development. By engaging international experts and stakeholders via the digital and physical platform element, the project team will be able to engage these initiatives into mutual learning processes on success elements and challenges encountered, and to identify enabling factors that will help recently established and upcoming RS initiatives to become success stories.

EU-PolarNet

Project Leader: Rein Vaikmäe

Duration: 01.10.2020−30.09.2024

Additional information in ERIS and on the Project's webpage.

EU-PolarNet 2 will provide a coordination platform to co-develop strategies to advance the European Polar Research action and its contribution to the policy-making processes. It will operate as such a platform for the 4-years of the project´s lifetime. Once EU-PolarNet 2 ends, the gained experience, the established network and the developed tools to facilitate better coordination and co-design of Polar research actions will be transferred to the European Polar Coordination Office to be sustained.

Participants from the Department of Geology: Rein Vaikmäe ja Enn Kaup.

Other International Projects

Project Leader: Kazbulat Šogenov

Duration: 01.09.2020-31.08.2023

Additional information in ERIS.

Many natural resources are and need to be used in a smarter, more sustainable way. The European Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan sets many ways on how to “close the loop” of product lifecycles. Extractive industry is the industry where large volumes of waste are generated. This includes not only solid waste from mine extraction but also liquid waste in oil&gas industry and gaseous waste (eg. greenhouse gas emissions from mines). The Circular economy act published by EU puts a major emphasis on finding new, innovative means to move away from a 'take-make-dispose' culture and to develop new methods, technologies and also approaches to recycle and re-use products. In this context extractive industry and higher education programes related to it such as: mining, mineral engineering, raw materials, applied earth sciences need to put an emphasis on this context and include this concept in the existing curricula and/or create new study programmes or short courses that will include circular economy approach. The objective of this proposal is to create a strategic partnerships between Universities and companies developing a comprehensive training platform that will help to modify existing study programmes related to extractive industry also knowledge of proper waste management incorporating circular economy approach. The programme will aim to strengthen the strategic and structured cooperation between higher education institutions through: a) support for various types of cooperation models, including the most ambitious ones such as the European Universities; b) contributing to remove obstacles to mobility by implementing automatic mutual recognition of qualifications and learning outcomes, and by embedding mobility in curricula; c) support for higher education institutions to implement the Bologna principles and tools to enhance mobility for all and to develop a successful multilingual European Education Area by 2025.

Project Leader: Alla Šogenova

Duration: 01.01.2021−31.12.2022

Additional information in ERIS.

Renewable hydrogen combined with large scale underground storage enables transportation of energy through time, balancing out the impacts of variable renewable energy production. While storing pure hydrogen in salt caverns has been practiced since the 70s in Europe, it has never been carried out anywhere in depleted fields or aquifers. Technical developments are needed to validate these two solutions. As subsurface technical feasibility studies for a future hydrogen storage in depleted field or aquifer will be site-specific, as for other geology related activities, HyStories will provide developments applicable to a wide range of possible future sites: the addition of H2-storage relevant characteristics in reservoir databases at European scale; reservoir and geochemical modelling for cases representative of European subsurface, and tests of this representativeness by comparing it with results obtained with real storage sites models; and lastly an extensive sampling and microbiological lab experiment programme to cover a variety of possible conditions. Complementarily, techno-economic feasibility studies will provide insights into underground hydrogen storage for decision makers in government and industry. Modelling of the European energy system will first define the demand for hydrogen storage. Environmental and Societal impact studies will be developed. For a given location and hydrogen storage demand, a high-level cost assessment for development of each of the competing geological storage options at that location will be estimated, and the sites will be ranked based on techno-economic criteria developed within the project. Finally, several case studies will enable consideration of the implementation of potential projects, notably by considering their economic interest. This will provide substantial insight into the suitability for implementing such storage across EU and enable the proposition of an implementation plan.

Project Leader: Rein Vaikmäe

Duration: 01.01.2012−31.12.2021

Additional information in ERIS.

Estimation of groundwater age through the combined use of isotope methods and groundwater flow modelling will be used for developing the knowledge on the genesis and dynamics of groundwater and brines in deep aquifers over the Baltic Artesian Basin. Stable oxygen and hydrogen isotopes as well asCarbon-14 and tritium analyses will be used for areas not studied previously by isotopic methods.The main focus of this project, however, will be application of the recently available long-lived radionuclides, isotope age tracers and noble gases (Krypton-81, Chlorine-36, Helium-4, etc…), coupled with groundwater flow modelling to better understand and assess deep groundwater systems as long-term source of water supply. As the baseline knowledge fort his project we`ll use the results of our earlier research including the recent results of the first application of Krypton -81 datings in the BAB area ( Gerber et al 2016 submitted to G&CA). To our knowledge, this was the first groundwater study with Kr-81 activities below the detection limit of currently 2% of the atmospheric Kr-81/Kr ratio. Combination of chemical and stable isotope composition of the brine, noble gas concentrations and dating results favors evaporative enrichment of seawater However some uncertainities about the brine formation processes remained as this study was based on the data of only seven deep wells!T hose open questions would be answered in the course of current proposed project. A number of new deep wells in southern part of the BAB (In Lithuania and Eastern part of the BAB (in Russia ) will be included in this project.

Project Leader: Alla Šogenova

Duration: 01.09.2020-31.10.2021

Additional information in ERIS.

The objective of the RouteCCS project is to strengthen networking on tackling climate change through technology such as Carbon Capture, Use and Storage (CCUS) in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) between stakeholders such as authorities, companies, universities and experts in order to facilitate deployment of a large-scale CCUS project. Full-scale CCUS projects play a vital role in meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement and in mitigating climate change. The outcome of the project will be a review and update of the current situation in the BSR countries concerning the whole chain of CCUS including regulations, the detailed plan for the steps after the seed money project, and a list of the most potential funding sources.

Project Leader: Alla Šogenova

Duration: 01.01.2012−31.12.2021

Additional information in ERIS.

The Newsletter of the ENeRG Network production, edition and distribution to the network members and policy makers (European Commission, etc). Production and distribution of the ENeRG Position Papers (2012-2017). Management of the ENeRG Network website (2018-2021).

Applied Projects

Project Leader: Erik Väli

Duration: 01.12.2021-31.12.2022.

The aim of this project is to prepare technical data for wetseparating Estonian mineral resources and to optimize the operating mode for the separating device.

Project Leader: Olle Hints

Duration: 01.10.2020-31.05.2021.