Tell us about yourself. Who are you?
I am Karolina! I am a Master’s student from Gdansk, Poland. I come from a chemistry background – I studied green engineering for my bachelor’s. Currently I am doing a Master’s of Sustainable Cities at Aalborg University in Copenhagen. I am very interested in how cities can become innovation hubs for sustainable development.
How did you find your master thesis?
I really wanted to write my Master’s about solar energy – I have always been interested in exploring its potential as an affordable source of energy to transition to energy systems of net zero carbon emissions. I knew that I wanted to incorporate my knowledge of electrochemistry and conduct a R&D project but also to apply the generated knowledge to a real life problem. I found that Absolicon – a company I am collaborating with, developed a production line of Solar Thermal Collectors of the highest optical efficiency. After reading about the company I also discovered that they conduct a lot of projects aiming at raising awareness and educating about the need to transition to 100% renewable energy systems. It seemed like a great fit for my Master’s goals.
What is your master thesis about?
My thesis consists of two parts. In the first part I will conduct a series of laboratory experiments – aiming at increasing the efficiency and sustainability of cobalt-chromium electroplating – a process used in manufacturing of the solar collectors. In the second part I will analyse how, those high efficiency solar collectors, can be applied in solar district heating. I will choose a case study area, which is currently using fossil fuels to generate heat for its district heating system. Lastly, I will demonstrate what are the environmental and social benefits, as well as the costs of substituting fossil fuel with solar thermal energy. I am hoping that with this approach, I will contribute to bridging the Innovation Gap by introducing new, sustainable technology to the city setting.
What do you do during the day?
The Master’s is my main focus and I am working on it within the normal working hours (9-17). Currently most of my day is focused on reading and research – I try to take frequent walks, doing yoga, cause it can get a bit tiring. I do most of the intense work which requires focusing in the morning – after lunch is when the slump hits me and this is when I write my emails, read what I have already written, contact different researchers and do planning activities.
What is it like to carry out your master thesis during a pandemic?
Due to the pandemic I work from home -it has its pluses and minuses. In general I do not have problems with being motivated to work on my master’s but I enjoy staying with a friend who has a similar routine – it helps me to stay engaged. I think the pandemic slowed things down significantly. I found that receiving responses from companies takes longer. I will also be going to Sweden and conducting all my experiments there – as it won’t be possible to go there back and forth I will have to plan everything thoroughly – which does not leave a lot of room for mistakes.
What do you want to do after graduation?
After graduation I want to become an innovation facilitator. I really want to work with engineers of various expertise on projects which aim to develop climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. I would like to work on a whole range of sustainability topics, collaborate with people with unique skills to ensure that nature and society reach a better consonance!
What is your best tip for those who want to come here and discover the High Coast?
In my free time I recently started to enjoy watercolours – painting helps me stay present. I also love reading, trying out new delicious veggie recipes and completing fitness challenges 🙂