Panagiotis Stathopoulos is a visiting professor at Technische Universität Berlin. While his research topics are energy conversion, storage systems and hydrogen combustion, he also works in the development of high temperature heat pumps for industrial heat in his role as group leader at the DLR Institute for Low Carbon Industrial Processes. In this interview he shares his thoughts about why we must move faster and be bolder in our push for decarbonisation.
What is your motivation for pursuing research in this area?
Simply put, climate change. OK I admit it, I am also kind of an energy nerd.
What would you have done if you were not a researcher?
I would have been a practical worker, like a carpenter or a metal worker. A job that would result in real things to use in your everyday life.
Have you encountered any challenges in pursuing your research career?
I have changed my land of residence twice, with all issues that come with changes like this. And studying in Greece might have given me all the tools I need to be a good researcher, but the Greek universities are generally not so well known in Europe. There has been a general hesitation, at least at the beginning, to accept me as an equal in many ways, that cannot be analysed here.
What do you do within the ESTiMatE project?
I am responsible for coordinating part of the experimental work and supervising the Ph.D. students who carry this work out. Specifically, we work on turbulent counter-flow flames and swirl-stabilised flames and we study soot emissions in them.
How do you like it so far?
It has been a difficult project, due to many reasons, but most importantly due to the pandemic. But I really like to see it evolve because I was part of its initiation together with Daniel Mira from BSC. We work together also on hydrogen combustion and we wanted to extend the field of cooperation. So ESTiMatE became this extension.
What do you hope to achieve in your career in the long run?
Develop and if possible help deploy technologies that will push decarbonisation forward. We desperately need to move faster and be bolder! This is also why I changed from the university to the DLR to come closer to deployment-connected technology.
What advice would you give young researchers who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Have fun. Ask all the questions that others do not dare to ask. Work hard but not too hard. Keep an open mind. Avoid becoming a specialist for something very narrow. We call these people "Fachidioten" in German and I am not really sure there is a common term for this in English.