If in the previous decade Coppe intensified its insertion and gained more visibility in the Brazilian society, over the 2000s the institution has expanded its internationalization process, delving into the main themes and dilemmas of the globalized world -- especially the challenges posed by the growth of global energy demand and the worsening of the environmental crisis with the intensification of climate change.
The first ten years of the twenty-first century were marked by the entering in operation of several large laboratories in Coppe. These laboratories are comparable to the most important research institutions in Europe and in the United States. Also, the new century witnessed the participation of its researchers in national and international bodies tasked with the formulation of policies, such as the Brazilian Forum on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
It also helped to promote a positive coordination between government, business and civil society bodies which in turn enabled the construction of oil platforms in the country, promtping the recovery of the Brazilian naval industry.
In 2009, Coppe started its first formal institution of direct and systematic cooperation with a foreign country: the China-Brazil Center for Climate Change and Energy Technology Innovation. Created with the support of the governments of both countries, the Center is headquartered in Beijing, at the Tsinghua University. Since then, projects in the fields of energy and environment are developed under this partnership.
Coppe’s twenty-first century began in fact and symbolically with the opening of the I-2000, an area that encompasses more than 80 laboratories in an area of 10 thousand square meters (approx. 107 thousand square feet) that was built with the support of Petrobras. Until the I-2000, the facilities were restricted to small areas and makeshift rooms. The construction of the I-2000 consolidated a new type of partnership, with the establishment of laboratories in conjunction with companies. One of the first examples of this new experience was the Catalysis Center (Nucat), one of the best-equipped research centers in the field worldwide.
The large laboratory facilities undergo an expansion on campus. In 2003, the Ocean Technology Laboratory (LabOceano) began operating. It has the deepest world tank for the simulation of waves and ocean currents. In 2009, the Nondestructive Testing, Corrosion and Welding Laboratory (LNDC) was opened. The LNDC is the only in the world to integrate the three areas in one installation. It occupies an area of 9,000 square meters (approx. 96,875 square feet) and focuses on research for the exploration of the Brazilian pre-salt. Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva attended the opening ceremony of both laboratories.
With large infrastructure available, technical knowledge and intensive research activity in the naval and in the oil and gas areas, Coppe helped promote the coordination between government, business and civil society bodies to study the possibility for the recovery of the ailing shipbuilding industry in the country. The researchers believed that the time was ripe. They held a seminar in Coppe with the presence of representatives of government, business and academia in order to assess the feasibility for the construction of oil platforms in Brazil. Yes, they concluded, it was possible, if the government invested in the restoration of the naval industrial park, which was in a state of abandonment since the 1980s, via the placement of orders. Today, this sector is one of the most flourishing in the economy of Rio de Janeiro.
The Science Park of Rio de Janeiro, which occupies an area of 350 thousand square meters (approx. 3,767,368 square feet) in the University City, inaugurated its first facility with LabOceano. The Park project, which was headed by UFRJ, hosts the research centers of international companies, Coppe’s and other UFRJ’s faculties’ laboratories and the headquarters of small and medium technology-intensive Brazilian companies.
When the first decade of the new millennium ended, 13 research centers of large corporations, 9 small and medium companies and 6 UFRJ laboratories, of which 4 were Coppe’s, were established, or in process thereof, in the Science Park.
Over the 2000s, evidence that the global warming was a reality and that the climate was changing amassed. Global demand for energy, which is believed to be the root cause of the problem, also intensified. In Coppe, research and initiatives have multiplied in order to deal with the many aspects of the subject.
One of the first initiatives was the creation, in 1999, of the International Virtual Institute of Global Change (IVIG). Designed to handle the different angles - technological, economic, political, social and environmental - of globalization, IVIG in practice concentrated its emphasis on energy and environmental aspects.
Coppe supported the Brazilian government in the formulation and implementation of the national biofuel program. Integrating the Energy Planning, Chemical Engineering and Transportation departments as well as other units of UFRJ, the institution conducted chemical and mechanical tests that allowed the federal government to approve the addition of up to 5% of biodiesel to the diesel consumed in Brazil. Coppe installed a biofuel production plant in IVIG, where researchers develop and test alternative fuels to petroleum derivatives.
From 2004 on, Coppe is the host institution of the Brazilian Forum on Climate Change (FBMC), an advisory body of the Presidency of Brazil that brings together representatives of different economic sectors and social groups, and makes suggestions for the federal government. The Forum helped create the Policy and the National Plan on Climate Change, submitted by the Executive and approved by Congress in 2008. The following year, Coppe contributed, also through the FBMC, in the formulation of voluntary targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, announced by the Brazilian government at the 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen.
On the international scene, since 1990 Coppe’s professors participate in the IPCC, UN’s panel of scientists that produce periodic reports to support international conventions and agreements on the subject. In 2007, several of them were part of the group that published the fourth report and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2010, Coppe had 7 from the 25 Brazilian scientists chosen by the IPCC to work on the fifth report. It was Brazil’s largest representation.