June 05th 2023

50. World Environment Day

The Department of Environmental, Process and Energy Engineering faces the challenges of modern sustainability

June 5 is the World Environment Day of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This day, which was established in 1973 and is now in its 50th year, is the world's largest platform for public awareness in the field of the environment. In 2023 it will be hosted by Côte d'Ivoire and the motto will be "Solutions to plastic pollution".

We take this occasion to take a look at the Department of Environmental, Process and Energy Engineering, where environmental protection is of huge importance. We are meeting this challenge across three areas: in teaching, research and the "Third Mission", which addresses the targeted use of scientific findings to deal with social challenges.

In the area of research, the issue is prominent in several places; for example, a research group of the Department of Environmental, Process and Energy Engineering is currently working on a hybrid filter system for the removal of trace substances from our wastewater. Based on the results of an earlier project, the team developed membranes made of a plastic that is harmless to health. Wastewater is now forced by pressure through the pores of the membranes, of which those with the smallest dimension are about 500 times thinner than a human hair. Particles and dirt are retained, and clean water passes through. Read the full article here.

Relevant topics are also covered in teaching, for example sustainable building materials in the dual course of study Smart Building Technologies. Recently, student Laura Dachauerheld a student conference presentation in the course "Building Envelope" on this topic.  In her lecture "Solid Wood Construction. Technical, Ecological and Economic Aspects", she presented how wood as a building material is currently used in the Austrian construction landscape. She also talked about the potentials, especially in large construction projects such as office and industrial buildings.

Finally, research must also reach society - because not only technical, but also social solutions must be provided. The VerStraGem project is a response to these issues. It deals with recycling strategies for vegetable residues. The researchers conducted surveys to derive an acceptance analysis for the trade of Tyrolean vegetable residues (e.g. for crooked vegetables). Based on the exchange with the farmers, as producers of these vegetable residues, they conceptualized further surveys considering possible distribution channels. It is already clear that closing the material cycle brings considerable energetic and ecological benefits. Read the full article here.