November 11th 2020

Opening of Josef Ressel Center at MCI

Research of production of powdered activated carbon from municipal residues | Focus on sustainable and economically promising solutions for wastewater treatment

At the Josef Ressel Center at MCI in Innsbruck, the research focus is on the production of powdered activated carbon. ©MCI/Koller
At the Josef Ressel Center at MCI in Innsbruck, the research focus is on the production of powdered activated carbon. ©MCI/Koller

MCI is thrilled to share fantastic news: The first Josef Ressel Centre at the Entrepreneurial School® in Innsbruck has just been opened in a festive online event on November 11, 2020. Thanks to funding from the Federal Ministry for Digitalization and Business Location (BMDW) and four renowned local companies, over the span of the next five years the research focus is on the production of powdered activated carbon from municipal waste materials.

The head of the Josef Ressel Center at MCI, FH-Prof. Dr. Angela Hofmann, explains: "Coal from wood gas power plants can take over important functions in wastewater treatment. How to equip the powdered coal produced in the wood gasification process with the desired properties is the subject of research at this first Tyrolean Josef Ressel Center. MCI is working closely with the innovative Tyrolean company Syncraft Engineering, the municipal utilities in Schwaz, the Innsbruck municipal utilities and the Telfs municipal utilities.”

"As the Minister of Economics and Research I am committed to support productions made in Austria. Activated carbon is often imported, which associate long transport routes. Through its research efforts, the new Josef Ressel Center makes a significant contribution to environmental protection by closing regional cycles. I am proud of our innovative companies, our brilliant researchers, and our partners, who make the innovation and business location more resilient as a result", said Minister of Economic Affairs Margarete Schramböck.

The primary use of woodgas power plants is to provide renewable energy. During the gasification of wood using waste and residual wood from the municipal environment, the by-product of high-quality powdered coal is being produced. This is currently used, for example, as an auxiliary material for liquid manure treatment (odour reduction), as a soil conditioner, etc., without the underlying mechanisms being known in detail.

In addition to these comparatively unspecific fields of application, it would be desirable to process the powdered coal in a way that it can also be used for previously unsolved problems in wastewater treatment. This so-called functionalized powdered activated carbon could, for example, be used for the pre-treatment of highly contaminated wastewater, for the stabilization of biogas and digester gas processes, for the improvement of digested sludge properties (dewaterability) and as an adsorbent for drug residues and other micropollutants in wastewater.

At the Josef Ressel Center, the role of powdered coal in these processes will be investigated in more detail. Furthermore, it shall be defined which additional properties it must have in order to fulfill the sought-after functions. In practice, a worthwhile approach would be to change the properties of the powdered carbon by adjusting the process parameters during the gasification process in order to obtain activated carbon with a larger surface. For additional physical properties such as polarity or wetting properties, an after-treatment in an external reactor can be carried out with different methods such as chemical impregnation and/or steam treatment. Therefore the Josef Ressel Center focuses on how the gasification process can be modified or what post-treatment of the powdered activated carbon must take place in order to achieve this necessary functionalization.


MCI Rector Andreas Altmann adds: "The establishment of the Josef Ressel Center at MCI confirms the high quality and performance of the Entrepreneurial School® as an internationally recognized research institution. We expect the Josef Ressel Center to provide trend-setting solutions for wastewater treatment, important impulses for Tyrol as a business location and valuable know-how that will benefit our students during their MCI studies". 

The Mayor of Innsbruck, Georg Willi, explains: "The cooperation of several municipal infrastructure companies emphasizes that the challenges of the future – such as a sustainable energy supply, the use of local resources and the protection of our groundwater - can best be tackled by joining forces who are working together on a national basis".

Deputy Governor Ingrid Felipe emphasizes: "With the Josef Ressel Center at the Entrepreneurial University®, Innsbruck receives an outstanding research institution for cooperation between science and industry, which will have a positive and lasting impact on the research location".

Deputy Governor Josef Geisler adds: "These forward-looking research efforts in wastewater research are an excellent example of how cooperations between science and practice can achieve improvements in terms of a sustainable recycling economy.”

Josef Ressel Centers

At Josef Ressel Centers, application-oriented research is conducted at a high level, with outstanding researchers cooperating with innovative companies. The Christian Doppler Research Association is an international best practice example for the promotion of this cooperation. Josef Ressel Centers are jointly financed by the Federal Ministry of Digitalization and Business Location (BMDW) and the participating companies.

Mag. Susanne Crawford | Assistant & Project Manager Marketing & Communications
Mag. Susanne Crawford Assistant & Project Manager +43 512 2070 - 1526
Head of Josef Ressel Zentrum at MCI
Prof. Dr. techn. Angela Hofmann | Process & Energy Engineering Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
Prof. Dr. techn. Angela Hofmann Process & Energy Engineering +43 512 2070 - 3228