2021 First Prize of the ‘Forum Technik und Gesellschaft’ for Dissertations

2021 First Prize of the ‘Forum Technik und Gesellschaft’ for Dissertations

For his research achievements in the development of a new sustainable process for hydrogen production at CEET, Dr Sebastian Bock was selected from 70 submissions and received the sponsorship award for special social relevance from the Forum Technik und Gesellschaft.

The transformation to a sustainable, decarbonised energy system is more topical than ever in social, scientific and political terms. The application-oriented provision of renewable energies is essential for their efficient use. In Austria in particular, there is enormous potential for the use of sustainable bioenergy.

In Sebastian Bock's dissertation, a concept for decentralised hydrogen production developed and patented at TU Graz was transferred to an industrial process. The innovative chemical looping process for hydrogen production was developed specifically for the requirements of small and medium-sized plants. The demonstration on an industrially relevant scale took place in what is currently the world's largest 10 kW fixed-bed test plant in Graz.

The added social value of the work lies in particular in the transfer of a scientific concept into an industrial process for hydrogen supply. Such decentralised concepts increase energy self-sufficiency and the added value of rural areas. In the medium and long term, local anchoring also increases awareness of sustainable mobility and the acceptance of hydrogen technologies.

Hauptpreis 2021 des Forums Technik und Gesellschaft für Dissertationen

Für seine Forschungsleistungen zur Entwicklung eines neuen nachhaltigen Verfahrens zur Wasserstofferzeugung am CEET wurde Dr. Sebastian Bock aus 70 Einreichungen ausgewählt und erhielt den Förderpreis für besondere gesellschaftliche Relevanz vom Forum Technik und Gesellschaft.

Die Transformation zu einem nachhaltigen, dekarbonisierten Energiesystem ist in gesellschaftlicher, wissenschaftlicher und politischer Hinsicht aktueller denn je. Die anwendungsorientierte Bereitstellung von erneuerbaren Energien ist essentiell für deren effiziente Nutzung. Gerade in Österreich gibt es ein enormes Potenzial für die Nutzung nachhaltiger Bioenergie.

In der Dissertation von Sebastian Bock wurde ein an der TU Graz entwickeltes und patentiertes Konzept zur dezentralen Wasserstofferzeugung in einen industriellen Prozess überführt. Das innovative Chemical-Looping-Verfahren zur Wasserstofferzeugung wurde speziell für die Anforderungen von kleinen und mittleren Anlagen entwickelt. Die Demonstration im industriell relevanten Maßstab erfolgte in der derzeit weltweit größten 10-kW-Festbettversuchsanlage in Graz.

Der gesellschaftliche Mehrwert der Arbeit liegt insbesondere in der Überführung eines wissenschaftlichen Konzepts in ein industrielles Verfahren zur Wasserstoffversorgung. Solche dezentralen Konzepte erhöhen die Energieautarkie und die Wertschöpfung des ländlichen Raums. Mittel- und langfristig erhöht die lokale Verankerung auch das Bewusstsein für nachhaltige Mobilität und die Akzeptanz von Wasserstofftechnologien.

Foto: ©alumniTUGraz 1887/Clemens Nestroy.

Publication in Energies (20 July 2021)

Identifiability Analysis of Degradation Model Parameters from Transient CO2 Release in Low-Temperature PEM Fuel Cell under Various AST Protocols

Andraž Kravos, Ambrož Kregar, Kurt Mayer, Viktor Hacker and Tomaž Katrašnik

The detrimental effects of the catalyst degradation on the overall envisaged lifetime of low-temperature proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (LT-PEMFCs) represent a significant challenge towards further lowering platinum loadings and simultaneously achieving a long cycle life. The elaborated physically based modeling of the degradation processes is thus an invaluable step in elucidating causal interaction between fuel cell design, its operating conditions, and degradation phenomena. This analysis enables optimal reduction of the set of calibration parameters, which results in the speed up of both the calibration process and the general simulation time while retaining the full extrapolation capabilities of the framework.

Energies 2021, 14(14), 4380


Article in Fuel Cells (July 14, 2021)

Cold Start Behavior and Freeze Characteristics of a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell

Kocher, K., Kolar, S., Ladreiter, W. & Hacker, V.

Vehicle applications require efficient cold start capability and durability of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. In this study, we propose different self-cold-start strategies including flushing the PEMFC at shutdown and using galvanostatic operation at start-up. The cold-start properties from -5 °C of a single cell are investigated experimentally in situ at laboratory scale. The amount of cumulative charge transfer density, corresponding to the amount of product water, is used as an index to quantify the cold start capability.

Gas purging prior to freezing facilitates cold start of the PEMFC, although the improvement is relatively small compared to other methods, such as gradually increasing the current during start-up. Microscopic examinations of the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) after a cold start failure are be carried out to determine the material degradation due to ice formation.

Fuel Cells, Wiley, online early view, article FUCE1748


FWF Research project on hydrogen production approved (July 01, 2021)

In the FWF Decision Board meeting no. 84 of 21. June 2021, another research project was approved for CEET!

Advanced ceramic supported oxygen carriers – ACCEPTOR

Chemical Looping is one of the most promising technologies for CO2 sequestration. The Reformer Steam Iron Cycle, first published in 2003, is based on a fixed-bed chemical looping scheme with the scope of hydrogen production from locally available renewable resources. This allows the production of pre-pressurized (100 bar), high purity (99.999%) hydrogen for fuel cells in decentralized systems. The key constraint to its widespread use is the low material stability, which is particularly essential in fixed-bed reactors. The main challenge is the maintenance of the chemical and structural integrity of the oxygen carrier over several thousand reduction and oxidation cycles, as it is impossible to replace the material during ongoing operation in fixed beds.

Fortschrittliche keramische Sauerstoffträgermaterialien - ACCEPTOR

Chemical Looping ist eine der vielversprechendsten Technologien zur CO2-Sequestrierung. Der Reformer-Eisen-Dampf-Prozess, der erstmals 2003 veröffentlicht wurde, basiert auf einem Festbett-Chemical-Looping-Schema mit der Möglichkeit der Wasserstoffproduktion aus lokal verfügbaren erneuerbaren Ressourcen. Dies ermöglicht die Produktion von komprimierten (100 bar), hochreinem (99,999%) Wasserstoff für Brennstoffzellen in dezentralen Systemen. Die größte Herausforderung ist die Aufrechterhaltung der chemischen und strukturellen Integrität des Sauerstoffträgers über mehrere tausend Reduktions- und Oxidationszyklen, da ein Austausch des Materials im laufenden Betrieb in Festbetten nicht möglich ist.

Publication in Energies (June 20, 2021)

Combining baffles and secondary porous layers for performance enhancement of proton exchange membrane fuel cells

Mihanović, L., Penga, Ž., Xing, L. & Hacker, V.

A numerical study compares the currently most common flow field configurations, porous, biporous, porous with baffles, fine mesh Toyota 3D and traditional rectangular flow field. Operation at high current densities is considered to clarify the effects of the flow field designs on overall heat transfer and liquid water removal. A comprehensive, multiphase, non-isothermal 3D fluid dynamics model is developed based on current heat and mass transfer sub-models, including the full formulation of the Forchheimer inertia effect and the permeability ratio of the biporous layers. The conclusions of this work aids in the development of compact and high-performance proton exchange membrane fuel cell stacks

Energies 2021, 14(12), 3675;


Publication in Applied Energy Materials (June 17, 2021)

Novel Bimetallic Pd−X (X = Ni, Co) Nanoparticles Assembled on N‑Doped Reduced Graphene Oxide as an Anode Catalyst for Highly Efficient Direct Sodium Borohydride−Hydrogen Peroxide Fuel Cells

Hosseini, G., Daneshvariesfahlan, V., Wolf, S. & Hacker, V.

Bimetallic Pd-X (X = Ni, Co) nanoparticles on nitrogen-doped reduced graphene oxide (N-rGO) are prepared by a solid-state thermal technique followed by polyol reduction to be used as anode electrocatalysts for direct sodium borohydride-hydrogen peroxide fuel cells. The physical characterisation of the synthesised materials is investigated by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction. Finally, a direct sodium borohydride-hydrogen peroxide fuel cell with Pt/C as cathode and Pd-X (X = Ni, Co)/N-rGO as anode is constructed and operated with a power density of 353.84 and 275.35 mW cm-2 at 60 °C.

ACS Appl. Energy Mater. 2021, 4, 6, 6025–6039


BioBASE innovation platform established (May 27, 2021)

The Institute of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology is a partner of BioBASE, the new innovation platform for bioeconomy and circular economy. With the support of BioBASE, new national and transnational as well as cross-sectoral cooperations between and within industry and science are being established. BioBASE focuses on the entire value chain of the bioeconomy and circular economy. The intensive use of fossil and mineral resources contributes to progressive climate change; a reversal in the energy and production system is therefore necessary. BioBASE is launching an innovation platform to promote biobased products and the recycling of products in a wide range of application areas. The Biorefinery working group at the ICVT is concerned with the isolation of valuable materials from biobased process flows by means of the application, adaptation and new development of thermal separation processes.

Right from the start, BioBASE has been embedded in a strong network of around 60 partner organisations and institutions, including some major Austrian companies as well as specialist representatives from the chemical, pulp and paper, wood, food and stone and ceramics industries. From the scientific side, BioBASE is supported by the most important universities and research institutions in this field. In addition, state governments of the federal states and location agencies or clusters are also part of the BioBASE network.

Webseite: www.biobase.at

Twitter: www.twitter.com/BioBASE_Austria

Das Institut für Chemische Verfahrenstechnik und Umwelttechnik ist Partner von BioBASE, der neuen Innovationsplattform für Bioökonomie und Kreislaufwirtschaft. Mit Unterstützung von BioBASE werden neue nationale und transnationale sowie auch branchenübergreifende Kooperationen zwischen und innerhalb Wirtschaft und Wissenschaft etabliert. BioBASE betrachtet mit ihren Schwerpunkten die gesamte Wertschöpfungskette der Bioökonomie & Kreislaufwirtschaft. Der intensive Einsatz fossiler und mineralischer Ressourcen trägt zum fortschreitenden Klimawandel bei, eine Umkehr im Energie- und Produktionssystem ist daher notwendig. BioBASE startet eine Innovationsplattform zur Forcierung biobasierter Produkte sowie der Kreislaufführung von Produkten in den unterschiedlichsten Anwendungsbereichen. Die AG Biorefinery am ICVT beschäftig sich dabei mit der Isolierung von Wertstoffen aus biobasierten Prozessströme mittels Anwendung, Adaptierung und Neuentwicklung von Thermischen Trennverfahren.

BioBASE ist schon vom Start weg in ein starkes Netzwerk von rund 60 Partnerorganisationen und -institutionen eingebettet, darunter einige wesentliche österreichische Unternehmen sowie Fachvertretungen aus der chemischen-, der Papier- und Zellstoff-, der Holz-, der Lebensmittel- und der Stein- und keramischen Industrie. Von wissenschaftlicher Seite wird BioBASE von den wichtigsten Universitäten und Forschungseinrichtungen aus diesem Bereich unterstützt. Darüber hinaus sind Landesregierungen der Bundesländer und Standortagenturen bzw. Cluster ebenfalls Teil des BioBASE-Netzwerks.https://biobase.us1.list-manage.com/track/open.php?u=38c5ba3cd62d8ebdbd0df04c4&id=5dc2201cc2&e=d9dfd80461

Erasmus and traineeship at CEET (May 21, 2021)

Erasmus+ traineeship student Mark Kozamernik shares his experience about life in Graz and work at the Institute of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology (CEET) at TU Graz during the Covid pandemic (TU Graz blog English).

Erasmus+-Praktikant Mark Kozamernik berichtet über das Leben in Graz und die Arbeit am Institut für Chemische Verfahrenstechnik und Umwelttechnik (CEET) an der TU Graz während der COVID-Pandemie (TU Graz blog German).

Publication in Processes (May 3 , 2021)

Systematic Review on Isolation Processes for Technical Lignin

Marlene Kienberger, Silvia Maitz, Thomas Pichler and Paul Demmelmayer

Technologies for the isolation of lignin from pulping process streams are reviewed in this article. Based on published data, the WestVaco process, the LignoBoost process, the LigoForce SystemTM and the SLRP process are reviewed and discussed for the isolation of lignin from Kraft black liquor. The three new processes that have now joined the WestVaco process are compared from the perspective of product quality. Further, isolation processes of lignosulfonates from spent sulfite liquor are reviewed. The limitation for this review is that data are only available from lab scale and pilot scale experiments and not from industrial processes. Key output of this paper is a technology summary of the state of the art processes for technical lignins, showing the pros and cons of each process.

Processes, 2021, Volume 9, Issue 5, 804


Publication in Electrochemical Society (April 27, 2021)

Effect of Crosslinking on the Properties of QPVA/PDDA Anion Exchange Membranes for Fuel Cells Application

Samsudin, A. M. & Hacker, V.

Anion exchange membranes (AEMs) consisting of quaternary ammonium poly(vinyl alcohol) (QPVA) and poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDDA) were prepared by a solution casting method. The influence of the concentration of the chemical crosslinker on the properties and performance of AEMs was investigated. Morphology, chemical structures, thermal and mechanical properties of AEMs were characterized by SEM, FTIR, TGA, and UTM. The performance of AEMs was evaluated by water uptake, swelling degree, ion exchange capacity, and OH- conductivity measurement. The tensile strength, water uptake, and OH- conductivity of AEMs were enhanced with the increase of the crosslinker concentration. By introducing 12.5% glutaraldehyde (GA), the QPVA/PDDA AEMs achieved the highest tensile strength, water uptake, and OH- conductivity of 46.21 MPa, 90.6% and 53.09 ms cm−1 at ambient condition, respectively. The investigations show that crosslinked QPVA/PDDA AEMs are a potential candidate for anion exchange membrane fuel cells.

SEM image (left) and ion exchange capacity and conductivity (right) of a QPVA/PDDA anion exchange membrane [Samsudin and Hacker, 2021].

Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 2021, Volume 168, 27 p., 044526.


Article in Renewable Energy Development (February 15, 2021)

Poly(vinyl alcohol)-Based Anion Exchange Membranes for Alkaline Direct Ethanol Fuel Cells

Samsudin, A. M. Wolf, S., Roschger, M. & Hacker, V.

Cross-linked anion exchange membranes (AEMs) made of poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) as a backbone polymer and different approaches to introduce functional groups were prepared by solution casting with thermal and chemical cross-linking. Characterisation of the membranes was carried out by SEM, FTIR and thermogravimetric analyses. The performance of the AEMs was evaluated by water uptake, degree of swelling, ion exchange capacity, OH conductivity and single cell tests. A combination of quaternised ammonium poly(vinyl alcohol) (QPVA) and poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride) (PDDMAC) showed the highest conductivity, water uptake and swelling among the other functional group sources. This study shows that PVA-based AEMs have the potential for the application of alkaline direct ethanol fuel cells (ADEFCs).



SEM image (left) and ion conductivity (right) of a PVA-based anion exchange membrane [Samsudin et al., 2021].

International Journal of Renewable Energy Development, 2021, Volume 10, Issue 3, p 435-443.


Publication in International Journal of Molecular Sciences (February 9, 2021)

Efficient Chitosan/Nitrogen-doped Reduced Graphene Oxide Composite Membranes for Direct Alkaline Ethanol Fuel Cells

Gorgieva, S., Osmić, A., Hribernik, S., Božič, M., Svete, J., Hacker, V., Wolf, S. & Genorio, B.

Herein, we prepared a series of nanocomposite membranes based on chitosan (CS) and three compositionally and structurally different N-doped graphene derivatives. Two-dimensional (2D) and quasi 1D N-doped reduced graphene oxides (N-rGO) and nanoribbons (N-rGONRs), as well as 3D porous N-doped graphitic polyenaminone particles (N-pEAO), were synthesized and characterized fully to confirm their graphitic structure, morphology, and nitrogen (pyridinic, pyrrolic, and quaternary or graphitic) group contents. The largest (0.07%) loading of N-doped graphene derivatives impacted the morphology of the CS membrane significantly, reducing the crystallinity, tensile properties, and the KOH uptake, and increasing (by almost 10-fold) the ethanol permeability. Within direct alkaline ethanol test cells, it was found that CS/N rGONRs (0.07 %) membrane (Pmax. = 3.7 mWcm −2) outperformed the pristine CS membrane significantly (Pmax. = 2.2 mWcm −2), suggesting the potential of the newly proposed membranes for application in direct ethanol fuel cells.

SEM image (left) and DEAFC cell voltage and power density (right) of a chitosan/graphene-based composite membrane [Gorgieva et al., 2021].

International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Volume 22, Issue 4, p. 1-25 25 p., 1740.


Publication in Fluid Phase Equilibria (February 1, 2021)

Modeling liquid absorption of highly cross-linked epoxy resins in aqueous electrolyte solutions

Krenn, P., Zimmermann, P., Fischlschweiger, M. & Zeiner, T.

The solvent absorption of an epoxy o-cresol novolac resin composite has been measured in different aqueous electrolyte solutions (NaCl, CaCl2 and MgCl2) at different salt concentrations from 0.1 to 0.3 mg/l. Next to the total solvent uptake, which was measured by a gravimetric measurement, the absorption of ions was determined by ion chromatography and by atomic absorption spectroscopy. The measured solvent absorption in equilibrium was calculated by combining the ePC-SAFT equation of state with a network term, which takes into account elastic forces in the polymer network counteracting a further solvent absorption. In order to model the solvent absorption kinetics, the equation of state was combined with a Maxwell-Stefan diffusion approach and the viscoelastic Kelvin-Voigt model for chain relaxation. The model parameters were only fitted to the absorption in pure water, what was only possible because the epoxy resin absorbed a neglectable amount of ions. The fully predictively calculated values for the absorption in electrolyte solutions are in qualitative agreement to the measured data.

Fluid Phase Equilibria., 2021, Volume 529, Article number 112881


Study abroad and faculty mobility programs (February 1, 2021)

The Faculty of Technical Chemistry, Chemical & Process Engineering and Biotechnology has worldwide partnerships that serve student exchange and personnel mobility in the fields of teaching and research. Within the Erasmus+ program alone, there are currently about 30 specific agreements with partner universities. In addition, the individual institutes have a large number of specific cooperation agreements with foreign universities in the area of research.

Study Abroad Video

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Announcement of the Special Issue on Fuel Cells (November 2, 2020)

Development of Advanced Models for Analysis and Simulation of
Fuel Cells

The guest editors Prof. Katrašnik and Prof. Hacker invite you to submit articles for a special issue of Energies on “Development of Advanced Models for Analysis and Simulation of Fuel Cells”. To address the requirements on shorter product development cycles and reduced development costs, while boosting power density, efficiency, service life and safety, it is necessary to rely on advanced simulation models in the development process of fuel cells, their components, and fuel-cell-based systems. Simulation models are also indispensable for the analysis of fuel cells and for precise online monitoring.

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