Gemini - Tilbake til hovedsida
Research news from NTNU and SINTEF

Coverphoto: Geir Mogen

   Earlier editions in English

Read more about Gemini


Editor-in-chief SINTEF: Gunnar Sand, Director of public relations and strategic planning

Editor-in-chief NTNU: Information Director Anne Katharine Dahl

Editor SINTEF: Åse Dragland Email: Tel: +47 73 59 24 76 Fax: +47 73 59 83 50

Reporters: Jan Helstad, Svein Tønseth and Christina B. Winge

Postal address: Gemini, SINTEF, N-7465 Trondheim, Norway

Editors NTNU:Jan Erik Kaarø and Nina E. Tveter Email: Tel: +47 73 59 53 21 Fax: +47 73 59 54 37

Reporters: Christian Fossen, Beate Horg, Tore Oksholen and Lisa Olstad

Design/production:Raymond Nilsson and Tor Høyden, SINTEF Media Mads Nordtvedt, NTNU Info

Translation and English editing:
Hugh Allen, Gavin Tanguay. The EDIT project at NTNU, Nancy Bazilchuk



With CO2 as the working medium in your car’s cooling system, you can avoid scraping ice off the windows in winter.

Carbon dioxide has long been creating problems for environmental experts around the globe. Research scientists at SINTEF have now discovered a function in which CO2 can provide a positive outcome. The gas’ properties make it well suited to providing both heat and coldness in the air conditioning system.

Carbon dioxide has been used as a coolant for more than 150 years. The gas has an extremely low boiling point and the system draws heat from the surroundings via evaporation. This is what makes a refrigerator cold on the inside but warm at the back.

The cooling process “draws” heat out of the fridge and the temperature inside drops. However, the direction in the CO2-based process can be reversed so that the system can function as a heat pump. The technology behind these duel purpose climate systems adds to patented solutions from SINTEF/NTNU attributed to the late professor, Gustav Lorentzen.


Photo: Torkel Ystgaard, SINTEF

SINTEF is helping to create much needed jobs in the war-torn Balkans. With financial aids from Norway, the research foundation has come on board and is providing birthing aid to establish businesses in Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the unemployment level is currently around 40 percent. The business incubators assist local people to establish new businesses and also support the newly established businesses through the start phase. Staff from SINTEF will be among those proving the specialist advice. The innovation centre in Bosnia- Herzegovina is now open and the so-called BIT Centre (picture) is now underway. SINTEF has a stack of applications from individuals and companies that want to become involved. A similar arrangement in Macedonia is in the planning stages, and one in Moldova is also being considered.


Two Norwegian students crossed Greenland on skis last year, and used one of the products from the company Dtech AS’s in their canteens. They added water to minced beef that had been browned and then dried before they set off on their journey.

This tailor-made food was prepared in a drying plant for which three researchers at SINTEF and NTNU had the idea in 1989. Now, the trio’s technology is in the process of making its commercial world premiere.

The Norwegian company Dtech AS – a spin-off of SINTEF and NTNU – is now in the process of building a large factory in Hungary. The new plant will supply the international food industry with dried maize and dried peas - ingredients which will end up in dried soups and powdered casserole dishes all over the world. In terms of the taste, aroma and colour of the end-products, the new technology approaches the quality of vacuum freeze-drying - the Rolls Royce of dehydration technology. But the new technology is much less expensive.


Even mild or moderate malnutrition in early childhood may hamper psychological development later in life, according to the PhD study of children and juveniles in Ghana of Lily Yaa Appoh, NTNU.

Earlier studies have concluded that only severe malnutrition has a negative effect on psychological development. Among all undernourished children in the world, about 80 per cent are subject to milder forms of malnutrition. In a global context this means that aid programmes must not only focus on fighting severe malnutrition; attention should also be paid to the developmental problems that arise as a consequence of moderate malnutrition.

Photo: Hege Opset, Scanpix


Photo: SINTEF Media

Scientists at SINTEF Materials and Chemistry are among the first groups in the world who have developed a process for large-scale production of carbon nanotubes. The scientists have been developing their unique expertise in plasma technology and hightemperature chemistry for 30 years. Production of the strongest material in the world takes place in a high-temperature reactor designed in Trondheim.

Carbon nanotubes has turned out to have unsuspected electrical and chemical properties in addition to its high strength and extremely low weight. This means that superstrong plastics, uncrushable boat hulls and superlight aircraft could become a reality.

At the moment, there is little or no international commercial production of carbon nanotubes. However, the n-Tech company at the Institute of Energy Technology produces a few grams a day by the arc discharge method. The Trondheim reactor has been designed and built for production on the kilogram scale.

The efforts of SINTEF and NTNU have received financial support from the Research Council of Norway, and SINTEF has applied for patents on its technology.


Photo: Rune Petter Ness

ResMan AS – a start-up company based on spinning-off technology from SINTEF and IFE – will produce chemical intelligent materials to monitor flows in oil and gas wells. The whole process will take place without the use of cables.

The chemical intelligent materials are based on polymers, which react with their surroundings by releasing trace elements. By distributing the polymer units throughout the well and ensuring that the trace elements are recognised when they migrate to the surface, operators can obtain valuable information about flows in the formation, and how these develop over time.

The technology will significantly reduce uncertainties regarding what actually happens in oil and gas wells. Operators will obtain a better understanding of the physics of underground formations and thus a basis for optimising oil and gas recovery.

The company has been set up by Fridtjof Nyhavn from SINTEF Petroleum Research and Anne Dalager Dyrli from SINTEF Materials and Chemistry (picture).


Photo: RegattaFishing is one of Norway’s most dangerous occupations. Between 1988 and 2005, 80 Norwegian fishermen died at sea. Now fishermen are to get work clothes that will improve their chances of survival. If a fisherman falls into the sea, the new oilskin suit will keep him afloat - in fact, upright in the water, a position that will make it easier to climb on board again, or to be dragged on board by others.

The new suit is the result of a cooperative effort involving SINTEF, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association, the Gjensidige Insurance Company and the equipment manufacturer Regatta.

The aim was to develop a suit that would both promote safety and actually be used. The project group therefore emphasised the importance of developing clothing that would be comfortable to work in. The new suit sports large areas of fluorescent yellow and has been given the name “Regatta Fisherman”. The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association has great hopes for the clothing concept.

Photo: Regatta


Photo: Rune Petter Ness

One to three per cent of the world’s population suffers from psoriasis. There are no known medicines or treatment methods that give sufferers satisfactory and lasting relief. An intensive research effort at the Department of Biology at NTNU has resulted in the development of a group of compounds that can be used as a component in a new drug for the treatment of psoriasis. The compounds have been tested in vitro, and a patent application has been submitted with support from Leiv Eiriksson Nyskapning, a Norwegian company.

The researchers and inventors of the compound, most notably Professor Berit Johansen (photo) and Professor Emeritus Lars Skattebøl (University of Oslo), have formed the company Avexxin AS in cooperation with the Danish company Ventac Partners and Leiv Eiriksson Nyskapning AS. Avexxin’s chief aim is to develop the new medicine for the treatment of psoriasis. The group is applying for funding to perform clinical studies.

The company also plans to develop medicines for the treatment of other chronic diseases. The market for psoriasis medicines is expected to expand from US $1 billion in 2005 to more than US $3 billion in 2009.


Fish populations in the Barents Sea fluctuate considerably. NTNU researcher Harald Yndestad has worked to identify the factors that influence oscillations in fish populations over time. He has discovered that there is a connection between fluctuations in fish populations and the position of the Moon in relation to Earth. The lunar orbit is not circular; the angle varies by 5 degrees over a span of 18 years. When the angle changes, the tides on Earth shift direction. As a result, there is an increased flow of temperate water from the Atlantic Ocean into the Barents Sea. Warmer waters contribute to an increase in plankton production, and therefore fish.


Biosergen AS is the brainchild of a group of scientists at NTNU and SINTEF who have been studying the inner life of the soil bacterium Streptomyces noursei in detail. These bacteria produce Nystatin, an antibiotic that is used in medicines to treat fungal infections in human beings.

The company will use gene technology to develop analogues of the Nystatin molecule that are less toxic than today’s antifungal antibiotics and that will thus have fewer side-effects. This will help HIV victims, cancer patients and organ transplantees; these are all groups of patients whose weakened immune response system leaves them more liable to suffer serious fungal infections.

Biosergen expects to invest NOK 50 - 80 million in developing its new antibiotic. However, sales in this sector can reach dizzying heights; the part of the antibiotics market being targeted by Biosergen is currently worth around USD 4.3 billion a year, and this amount is expected to double by 2012.


Photo: Morten Stene

A new tool has been designed for hunting enthusiasts. The “døgngrader”, literally “day-to-day temperature monitor”, or “gamekeeper” is the name for the new device, which monitors storage conditions for meat. The device is placed out with game that has been hung to mature, and measures the relative humidity and temperature changes while the game is hanging. The device essentially measures the storage temperature multiplied by the number of storage days. When the device has calculated that the meat has reached an optimal quality, an alarm sounds. Maturing meat by hanging it can be quite challenging, especially under changeable weather conditions. The gamekeeper reduces the risk of the meat rotting.

The gamekeeper has been developed by SUVITEK. SUVITEK is located in Verdal and was established by Jon Olav Vikan (photo) and Jørund Sund, who are electrical engineers from NTNU. It took two years and NOK 1 million to develop the product.


In their search for better solutions for the aquaculture, fishing and offshore industries, researchers are about to adopt a new design principle known as “Tensegrity” which enables plants to bend with the wind without breaking, and allows them to return to their original shape afterwards.

The ambition of NTNU and SINTEF is to utilise this type of construction at sea. Traditionally, designers have enabled marine structures to withstand loads by making them strong. Smart structures represent a different philosophy of design, one that prefers adaptation and cooperation to raw strength. The researchers envision slender, intelligent structures that adapt to wave loads instead of fighting them. One of the aims is to develop “smart” sea-cages for fish farming. If necessary, a smart aquaculture sea-cage will change its own shape, so that it reduces the cross-sectional area that it presents to the waves. If there is little current and thus relatively little oxygen available to the fish, it will increase the area turned towards the direction of the waves.

Photo: Svein Tønseth


Refrigeration scientists at SINTEF and NTNU have been honoured by an award from the International Energy Agency (IEA) for their contribution to solving the greenhouse problems caused by leaking refrigeration systems and heat pumps.

The award has shown that it is possible to use CO2, a natural substance, as the “work-horse” in cooling systems and heat pumps. SINTEF and NTNU were the first to demonstrate that CO2 can be used in vehicle air-conditioning systems without increasing fuel consumption.

To utilise CO2 in cooling systems does not contribute to the greenhouse effect, since it is essentially “borrowed” from industrial waste gases that would otherwise have been released to the atmosphere.

The EU is currently drawing up a directive that will require all new vehicle models to have air-conditioning systems that do not contain the chemicals in use today. Vehicle manufacturers already have test cars on the road fitted with CO2-based air-conditioning. SINTEF and NTNU are also members of an EU project that will develop simple, inexpensive CO2 systems for small cars.




During surgery, surgeons can become hot and sweaty. This can be stressful and affect a surgeon’s ability to concentrate. NTNU master’s student Ragnhild Nesbakken has developed a cooling vest for surgeons for her master’s project. The vest has cooling agents made from a material that changes its phase from solid to liquid when skin temperatures exceed 28 degrees Celsius. The cooling elements have been incorporated in the back of the vest and in the centre of the chest, which are regions that generate a great amount of heat. The cooling elements are linked together in strips, which makes the vest very flexible. The strips can easily be replaced, and the fabric is good at transferring both moisture and heat. The vest has been tested during surgery at St Olavs Hospital in Trondheim, and feedback from the surgeon was positive. Nesbakken’s master’sthesis was written at the Department of Product Design in cooperation with the Department of Work Physiology and Microbial Exposure at SINTEF Health.

Photo: Ragnhild Nesbakken


Many species experience changes in both their environment and in overall living conditions. How quickly are they able to adapt to these changes, and what are the factors that affect genetic change in a population? Scientists all over the world are joining forces to find answers to these questions, and the Department of Biology at NTNU is part of this group. A research team at NTNU, headed by population biologist Professor Bernt Erik Sæther, will focus on genetic material from moose, yellowhammer and a type of goldfish.

This is an interdisciplinary effort where biologists and mathematicians are cooperating to fit genetics into an ecological framework, and chart and “model” how genetic material changes over time. The project has received NOK 18 million from the Research Council of Norway.


A project group at NTNU is working to establish an interdisciplinary programme to boost wood carpentry education. The aim is to cooperate with Norwegian industry and international researchers on the planning and manufacturing of wooden buildings by using digital product models.


Norwegian jazz musician Erlend Skomsvoll’s arrangement of jazz legend Chick Corea’s scores was performed during the Molde Jazz Festival in 2000 by Corea and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. The adaptations were met with much enthusiasm by Corea himself, the musicians in the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, the press, and the audience. A selection of scores from the concert has been released on CD, and the Corea writes in the liner notes that it was “complete creative fun from beginning to end”. All musicians involved in the project are former or current students from the Department of Music at NTNU.


Photo: SINTEF Materials and Chemistry

During a three-year project financed by the Research Council of Norway, Statoil and Norsk Hydro, SINTEF has been working with NILU and UiB to research how an oil spillage reacts in ice. This knowledge is valuable to gain an insight into the biological effects of an oil spillage in the Arctic region and also to establish oil spill contingency planning in these ice-infested waters.

As well as discovering more about oil’s characteristic in ice, the research scientists have studied photo-oxidisation of the oil and how the water soluble components in oil spread in the ice.


The world’s fifth largest oil producer, Mexico, is moving into deeper waters – and MARINTEK is assisting the Mexicans with the necessary technology. MARINTEK is about to sign a co-operation agreement with the Mexican institute IMP, which in reality is the research division of Mexico’s state-run oil company.

“Extracting oil at depths of 1000m or more requires special expertise,” says MARINTEK senior engineer Svein Karlsen. “We have to utilise floating production and it is difficult to install things. The production lines will be long and we must face challenges like strong water currents, changing temperatures and high pressure.”

Mexico’s deep water reservoirs are predicted to be the next big oil fairy tale. MARINTEK has worked on deep water technology since the late 1980s and has previously assisted several deep water operators, including in Brazil.


Almost half of all children with birth weights below 1500 grams suffer from psychological ailments by the age of 14. One in four has symptoms of ADHD, a neuropsychological condition, and many have anxiety symptoms. The results come from a study at NTNU and St. Olavs Hospital that included 56 premature children. “These children constitute a risk group and they need treatment, but only a small number of the children in the study received the support that they needed”, says child psychiatrist Marit Indedavik of the Department of Neuroscience, NTNU.


Photo: Nina Tveter

They studied together at NTNU and toyed with the idea of starting their own business. Two years later, the product design company called Kadabra has been founded at the Leiv Eriksson Business Incubation Centre in Trondheim. The goal of the four industrial designers who formed the business is to offer innovative designs on a consultancy basis. Kadabra’s services are already in demand. The company has developed a bicycle rack it calls “Løv” (literally, “Leaves”) for Ørsta Stål, which will install the rack in a number of Norwegian cities in 2006. Aesthetic qualities are normally not the top priority for bicycle rack designs – usually the design is simply a matter of bending some steel tubes. “We were inspired by nature and we let the bicycle stand ‘grow’ out of the cobblestones. The stand also has protective, rubberised sides to prevent it from scratching bicycles”, Espen Jørgensen (left) explains. The three other designers at Kadabra are Carl André Nørstebø (right), Carl-Gustaf Lundholm and Jørgen Solstad.


The off-shore sector currently relies mostly on non-corrosive materials for underwater pipelines and production systems at great depths. In the late 1990s, there were several breakdowns and subsequent production stoppages in the North Sea, including on Åsgård and Draugen. This focussed attention on the problem of hydrogen in materials. Possible sources of hydrogen include hydrogen contamination in materials used for welding and hydrogen that develops in cathode protection. The hydrogen impairs the metal properties and can lead to small cracks and defects that occur, for example during welding, becoming critical. There is now considerable international focus on this problem and research scientists at SINTEF/NTNU want to gain more knowledge on the subject. SINTEF/ NTNU recently arranged a large-scale workshop about hydrogen in materials, which attracted representatives from several oil companies, material suppliers and international research institutes. SINTEF/NTNU is now working to achieve an EU project on the theme.


Photo: SINTEF Health Research

SINTEF, in collaboration with American IT-company Kitware, has developed the world’s first communication system of its type. The system enables clinicians to interpret three-dimensional x-ray pictures together – at their respective hospitals via broadband Internet.

A pilot project is using the innovation to connect the radiography departments at Molde Hospital and St Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim. The system is being used to monitor the progress of patients who have undergone surgery for a thoracic aortic aneurysm. The elderly patients say they are grateful for the reduced travelling for follow-up consultations. The system has been trialled on five patients from Romsdal, and it meant they did not need to make the long journey to the hospital in Trondheim for post-operative consultations. Now they can stay in Molde and be checked from a far. Savings are also made on reduced hospital bed nights.

The next stage can lead to a reduction in hospital bed nights to an even greater extent. SINTEF research scientist Jon Harald Kaspersen, one of those who developed the new system, says it is also ideally suited for similar co-operation between smaller and larger hospitals, including when radiation treatment of cancer patients is being planned.


Photo: Thor Nielsen

SINTEF Energy Research will co-ordinate the research project DYNAMIS, which is at the leading edge of the EU’s billion project HYPOGEN (Hydrogen Power Production). This project comprises 29 participating partners, including Statoil, BP, Store Norske Spitsbergen Grubekompani, Vattenfall and companies like Alstom and Siemens. The project deals with studies on hydrogen production from fossil fuels, gas treatment and transport, treatment of CO2 and H2 and storage of CO2 geological formations. The project will also select a preferred concept design for a demonstration plant for hydrogen power production together with a social awareness and consciousness. The project’s total budget is €7.7 million, of which SINTEF is contributing €1 million and NTNU €300,000.



Seven gold medals, five silver medals and seven bronze medals was the total take for Norwegian cross-country skiers in the World Cup competition in Oberstdorf, Germany, in February 2005. No drugs were involved in this impressive achievement, but we’d like to think that a new ski outfit developed at NTNU was. Here is Marit Bjørgen after the relay race and wearing the suit, which was developed by NTNU professors Sveinung Løset and Lars Sætran in cooperation with ski wax manufacturer SWIX. The aerodynamic speed suit is named Pro Fit. The suit is a result of two years of research; it has undergone extensive testing in the wind tunnel at NTNU, on cylinders, on test dummies, and on people. The shin, knees, thighs and arms have a rough surface, while the hips, belly, chest and back are smooth. The researchers estimated that the suit would save athletes between three and 14 seconds during the course of a 15-kilometre race.

Photo: Erlend Aas, Scanpix


Today we receive all sorts of information via mobile phones – pictures, film, sound, and text. This surge of information demands a standardised technological platform, and the new ISO standard MPEG-21 addresses this demand. MPEG-21 describes the compatibility of the different components that form the very infrastructure for receiving and sending multi-media information. Adactus, a spin-off company from the Department of Electronics and Telecommunications at NTNU, has developed the software that allows the display of all types of information, irrespective of format and content, on mobile phones.


Scandinavian studies at NTNU has been rated at the top of a national evaluation by the Research Council of Norway. The group was praised for its clear research leadership, clear research strategy, and its energetic, interdisciplinary environment, which promotes fresh thinking. Many of the group’s research initiatives have been classed as very good and excellent. The Department of Scandinavian Studies and Comparative Literature as a whole has also been given favourable reviews: Individual and collaborative research projects have been given a top-level rating; the department has a conscious recruitment strategy and a fair age and gender distribution. At a university with a clear technological and scientific profile, it is particularly difficult for non-technological disciplines like linguistics and literary studies to compete. The evaluation committee concluded that the future of Scandinavian studies at NTNU seems bright


The oceans’ wild fish resources are limited, so it is critical that trawl nets do not catch unwanted species or small/under-sized fish. The water flow in and surrounding a trawl net’s construction is an important factor in this context. Arne Fredheim’s recently completed doctoral work at NTNU involved developing an approach for calculating the water flow in and around trawl nets. The methods can be used to design trawls that will prevent undesired catches, as well as for the design and control of water flow through nets intended for fish farming.



Today’s serving trays can be quite slippery and difficult to carry for sick and physically challenged people. An awareness of this fact encouraged Silje Evensen to develop a serving tray that combined functional qualities with a less institutional look for her master’s project at NTNU’s Department of Product Design. The tray is a hybrid between a serving tray and a table-mat. When it sits on the table, it acts like a table-mat, but when you carry it, it acts like a serving tray. The tray has a non-slip surface. Stackability, washability and durability are qualities that Evensen emphasised in the design. The tray should also make meals more appealing. The tray has been developed in cooperation with the Norwegian porcelain manufacturer Figgjo AS.

Photo: Silje Evensen


Using super conducting materials in induction furnaces for aluminium and copper can reduce the loss and improve efficiency. SINTEF Energy Research has taken the initiative and is leading an EU project to develop such techniques to be trialled in an industrial project.

Induction furnaces normally use AC currents, but for super conducting materials the key word is direct current. By utilising direct current, a super conducting material coil can generate a magnetic field without loss. The induced current is achieved by the metal material being heated rotating in the magnetic field. The idea is to produce a prototype that can be trialled at a Polish extrusion plant. This will consist of a 50cm long aluminium bolt that will rotate in a strong magnetic field. SINTEF will design and construct the electromagnetic system and super conducting material coils.


Search the archives

powered by FAST


 News in brief

By Tor Åge Bringsværd
«The threat inherent in our imaginations»
Read more