Energy & Process Technologies

The best possible use of resources is a central element of sustainable future development. The research focus lies in the intersection of energy and process engineering and deals with the multifaceted issues of these fields. Focal points are, for example, in the areas of energy supply from biogenic and renewable raw materials, the topic of water with its characteristics of waste water, process water and drinking water as well as an energy-efficient and resource-efficient use of snow-making systems (keyword: snow management).

The aim of the research projects in this field is to develop innovative solutions and concepts for current and future challenges, which are often developed together with partners from industry and research.

Biomass to Power & Heat

Bioenergy is one of the most important domestic sources of energy, reducing costly imports of natural gas and oil and making sustainable use of our own resources. Further strengthening of bioenergy requires the development of systems and facilities for the provision of electricity and heat from woody biomass. Not only is a decentralized, sustainable energy supply concept in the foreground, but also the maximization of the efficiency and above all the flexibility of the raw material used. In order to make complex biomass accessible in a way that is as efficient and consistent as possible, both the optimized storage to avoid substance losses and basic transformations of the materials are examined, as well as their drying, pelleting and valorization towards biochar.

Decarbonization & hydrogen management

Climate change, caused by the anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases, is one of the greatest challenges we are currently facing. Greenhouse gas emissions must be drastically reduced in the coming years in order to preserve the natural basis of life. In the research field of Decarbonization and Hydrogen Management, sustainable solutions for the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions in industrial processes are being investigated in close cooperation with industry. Fossil energy sources that are currently used are being replaced by renewable, future-oriented alternatives. Due to local conditions, hydrogen as an energy carrier will increasingly become the focus of the energy industry in the Alpine regions. Accordingly, there is a great need for research in the field of hydrogen management in order to use this energy carrier as efficiently as possible.

Energy Distribution & Storage

While the development of alternative energy sources is often relatively difficult for the end user of heating and cooling, centralized plants can be operated with high efficiency and minimal pollutant or CO2 emissions. The research focus here is therefore the investigation and development of corresponding energy distribution and storage systems at different temperature levels as well as for different producer and consumer technologies.

Membrane technology & Water Treatment

On the one hand, the research area Membrane Technology deals with the production and optimization of membranes for liquid and gaseous media and, on the other hand, with the application of membrane processes in technical processes. For new applications, there is often no in-house experience with membrane separation processes. The resulting questions regarding a suitable pore size, membrane material, operation mode, etc. can usually be answered by laboratory and pilot tests. The activities in water and wastewater treatment aim to further develop the underlying purification processes and reduce the necessary consumption of resources. To this end, established methods such as the activated sludge process or anaerobic sludge digestion in reactors are being optimized.

Contact
Dr. Martin Spruck, MSc | Lecturer Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
Dr. Martin Spruck, MSc Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 3236

If you have any questions regarding this research area, please contact us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Competence Center
Dr. Martin Spruck, MSc | Lecturer Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
Dr. Martin Spruck, MSc Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 3236
 Thomas Hämmerle, BSc, MSc | Teaching & Research Assistant Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
Thomas Hämmerle, BSc, MSc Teaching & Research Assistant +43 512 2070 - 3245
FH-Prof. Dr. Michael Meister, MSc | Professor Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
FH-Prof. Dr. Michael Meister, MSc Professor +43 512 2070 - 3238
FH-Prof. Dr. Werner Stadlmayr | Head of Department & Studies Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
FH-Prof. Dr. Werner Stadlmayr Head of Department & Studies
 Jan Back, BSc MSc | Lecturer Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
Jan Back, BSc MSc Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 3259
Prof. (FH) Dr. techn. Angela Hofmann | Professor Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
Prof. (FH) Dr. techn. Angela Hofmann Professor +43 512 2070 - 3228
FH-Prof. PD DDipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Lukas Möltner | Professor Bachelor's program Industrial Engineering & Management
FH-Prof. PD DDipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Lukas Möltner Professor +43 512 2070 - 4132
Ing.  Ronald Stärz, BSc, MSc | Senior Lecturer Bachelor's program Mechatronics
Ing. Ronald Stärz, BSc, MSc Senior Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 3931
Mag. Alexander Dumfort | Senior Lecturer Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
Mag. Alexander Dumfort Senior Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 3233
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Benjamin Hupfauf | Teaching & Research Assistant Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Benjamin Hupfauf Teaching & Research Assistant +43 512 2070 - 3243
 Thomas Neuner, BSc, MSc | Doctoral student Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
Thomas Neuner, BSc, MSc Doctoral student +43 512 2070 - 3200
Ing. Dr. Aldo Giovannini | Senior Lecturer Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
Ing. Dr. Aldo Giovannini Senior Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 3231
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Marc Koch | Teaching & Research Assistant Bachelor's program Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Marc Koch Teaching & Research Assistant +43 512 2070 - 3244
Dr.-Ing. Martin Pillei, BSc MSc | Senior Lecturer Bachelor's program Industrial Engineering & Management
Dr.-Ing. Martin Pillei, BSc MSc Senior Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 4133

C-MEM surfaces and material optimization
Duration:
2016 - 2017

Project Lead:
FH-Prof. Mag. Marco Rupprich, Ph.D.

Team:
Roman Leithner, BSc BSc MSc

Veronika Huber, MSc

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Marc Koch

Dr. Martin Spruck, MSc

Description:
The C-MEM membrane fibers produced by SFC Umwelttechnik are used for drinking water and sewage treatment. Due to the complex production of these membranes, they can currently only be produced in the limited range of ultrafiltration (0.1-0.01 μm) and only with a special HDPE which (i) has a limited durability in the application (ii) unavailable on the European market, resulting in delivery bottlenecks and high transport costs, and (iii) partly causing high reject rates and also not allowing adaptation of the existing membrane fiber. The main objectives of this project are therefore (i) to modify a locally available HDPE with the help of the project partners according to our requirements, (ii) to develop a few nanometer thick ion-selective coating for the filtration area (0.01 - 0.001μm) and finally (iii) also to adapt or convert the production facilities to this new material and coating technology. The aim is to optimize the production of the fibers in terms of scrap and quality, to greatly expand the field of application and, overall, to improve the C-MEM process. Another important aspect is the know-how advantage that is built up to the competition, because this newly developed material and the new production processes of the membrane will not be freely available.

Tyrol 2050 - Resource and Energy Scenarios
Duration:
2017 - 2018

Project Lead:
Prof. (FH) Dr. techn. Angela Hofmann

Team:
Ing. Christoph Pöham, BSc, MSc

Ing. Dr. Aldo Giovannini

Description:
For future energy strategic decisions of the province of Tyrol, the MCI has been commissioned to draw up two scenarios for using resources for Tyrol by the year 2050, based on the Austria Study of the Year 2010, Energy Autarchy for Austria 2050 '. Due to the Tyrolean specifics (mainly climatic and geomorphological features) it is expected that the results will differ significantly from those of the Austria-wide study. The study will quantify the available domestic resources and compare them to the future needs scenarios for 2050. In this way, it can be quantified how, with today's and foreseeable future technological possibilities, demand can be met in accordance with the given framework conditions of Europe, Austria and other Tyrolean framework conditions. As a result of the study, a rough 'direction' is expected as to which resources will be involved in the way and to what extent in the transformation of the energy system, taking into account the - politically and socially accepted - availability and usability of resources.

WasteWoodGas
Duration:
2017 - 2019

Project Lead:
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Benjamin Hupfauf

Team:
Thomas Hämmerle, BSc, MSc

Description:
The aim of the project is the recovery of waste wood in SynCraft wood gasification plants. The focus of the processing is on wood casings and wood packaging, which can be identified as a substitute fuel, if possible, the current old wood recycling regulation. Different processing options for recycling in SynCraft plants are to be investigated for the waste wood fractions mentioned. In particular, these are different hacker and shredder technologies (reprocessing lines for waste wood).

Optimization of the energy input for the mixing of digester towers
Duration:
2018 - 2020

Project Lead:
FH-Prof. Dr. Michael Meister, MSc

Description:
The aim of the present research project is to optimize the energy input for the digester mixing such that the anaerobic digestion process becomes economically more attractive. Apart from gas injection and impeller induced mixing, the utilization of slowly rotating stirrer devices proved to be energetically efficient. An ideal operation, however, requires the calibration of the stirrer and its operating parameters with the digester geometry and the physical properties of the slurry flow therein. Since until now stirrer devices are dimensioned and operated based on experience only, a substantial room for improving the energy efficiency is foreseen. The plan of the "OPTFAUL" project is to first conduct a laboratory experiment and to subsequently perform a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation to optimize the energy requirements for the digester mixing. The experimental setup allows measuring the mixing intensity and the input energy for diverse scenarios such that the efficiency of different stirrers can be compared. For the 2 most suitable mixing devices a detailed CFD analysis for a full scale digester is conducted. Subsequent to the optimization of the energy input the project results are compared to the operating data from wastewater treatment plants in the county of Tyrol to demonstrate the room for improvement and the corresponding measures.

PileCommunication
Duration:
2018 - 2019

Project Lead:
Sabrina Dumfort, BSc MSc

Team:
René Nußbaumer, BSc, MSc

Description:
During storage of hay and wood chips, self-heating occurs due to biodegradation processes, which can result in self-ignition under unfavorable storage conditions. The PiCo-PileCommunication project will prepare for the development of an early-warning system based on the analysis of gas composition of bulk solids. Contrary to conventional smoke detectors, this system should set the alarm before the actual ignition. The project will investigate the underlying mechanisms of auto-ignition and measure the gases released during these processes. On the basis of these laboratory experiments, it is possible to define lead substances that signal impending spontaneous combustion.

PowerBox - Decentralised power and heat production from biogenic residues
Duration:
2009 - 2016

Project Lead:
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Benjamin Hupfauf

Team:
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Marcel Bernard Huber

Prof. (FH) Dr. techn. Angela Hofmann

Johannes Gratzl, BSc MSc

Christoph Franzl

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Jan Krueger

Marcel Lepuschitz, BSc

Sabrina Dumfort, BSc MSc

Robert Thaler, BSc MSc

Silvia Kostner

Mag. Christina-Maria Gress

Markus Huemer, MSc

Ing. Benedikt Bodner, BSc MSc

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Georg Kreutner

Lisa-Marie Auer, BSc MSc

Description:
The use of alternative, biogenic resources, briefly called ABR, as energy is a key factor in the implementation of a global energy revolution. The at the MCI 2007 developed thermochemical conversion process by stepped floating bed gasification provides optimal, procedural prerequisites to turn such raw materials efficiently into electricity and heat. While the utilisation of low quality wood chips could be conducted to commercial maturity in the first phase of the project, the target now is to make the technology fit to utilise ABR.

Project partners:
Thöni
Unternehmenssektor Inland
SCE
Unternehmenssektor Inland
SWS
Unternehmenssektor Inland

Publications/literature:
Standard 20090809 Diverse Zeitungsartikel 18th Europäische Biomassekonferenz - Lyon 19th Europäische Biomassekonferenz - Berlin Internationale Conference on Polygeneration Strategies - Wien

(co)Operation SKD
Duration:
2014 - 2018

Project Lead:
Dr. Alexander Trockenbacher

Team:
Bettina Rainer, BSc MSc

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Benjamin Hupfauf

Heidrun Füssl-Le, BSc, MSc

FH-Prof. Mag. Marco Rupprich, Ph.D.

Sebastian Perkams, BSc MSc

Prof. (FH) Dr. techn. Angela Hofmann

Dipl.-Ing. Michael G. Schnitzlein, PhD

FH-Prof. Dr. Christoph Griesbeck

Dr. Martin Spruck, MSc

Peter Leitner, BSc MSc

Description:
The project aims to establish an economic process for the production of valuable compounds from phototrophic microorganisms (algae, microalgae) and the subsequent energetic processing of biomass. For this purpose established R&D structures at the Departments of Biotechnology and Environmental, Process & Energy Engineering at MCI, as well as at the Departments of Bio and Environmental Technology and Process Engineering and Production at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria (FH OÖ) are further developed, combined and integrated. The Austrian Drug Screening Institutes (ADSI) will contribute additional analytical expertise to the consortium. The main objectives will be the development of the single process steps and competence development in order to provide targeted services for potential company partners in the fields of pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries.

AFB - Advanced Functionalization of Biochar - Regional, sustainable provision of activated carbon as a by-product of a modern wood-fired power plant
Duration:
2018 - 2020

Project Lead:
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Benjamin Hupfauf

Team:
Michael Kresta, BSc

David Gurtner, BSc

Thomas Hämmerle, BSc, MSc

Jan Back, BSc MSc

Jascha Keifenheim, BSc

Josef Haselwanter

Description:
The activation of coals is nothing new per se and is carried out on a large scale. However, the problem is the currently used tonnages in the respective processes. Most of the coal is activated by rotary kilns with minimum throughputs of 10,000 t a-1. Since SYNCRAFT wood-fired power plants currently produce a maximum of 400 t of a-1 charcoal as a by-product of regionally sourced forest residue, the technology of rotary kiln activation can not be used due to the high activation costs. Thus, concepts must be developed that allow an ecological and economic "small scale activation". Furthermore, this technology can be used to produce a regionally regenerated activated carbon which spares the necessary resources, which usually have to be imported. In addition, according to the Ithaca Institute, 3.5 to 5 t of hard coal or 5 to 6.5 t of lignite are required to produce one tonne of activated carbon, which generates an average of about 11 - 18 t of CO2 emissions. However, the market demands a wide range of carbons with different specifications (BET, BJH, shape, coatings, ...).

TiHoB - Tyrolean charcoal binder - Regional, sustainable production of charcoal briquettes and pellets using an innovative binder
Duration:
2018 - 2020

Project Lead:
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Benjamin Hupfauf

Team:
Thomas Hämmerle, BSc, MSc

Description:
A primary problem of energy producing systems using wood or char is the accumulation of fine dust and ashes. The binding and disposal of these substances is complicated and costly. If anything high-quality products from the food industry such as sugar cane, potato or corn starch currently used for binding. In this project a different approach should be chosen. 100 % recycled waste fats and oils in combination with clay minerals should provide a basis for compressing the dusts and ashes. The aim is to bind char, ashes and dusts for further use in the industry, but also to the production of food-compliant BBQ-char from charcoal and ash using recycled raw materials.

Elucidation of the reaction mechanism and kinetics of hydrothermal carbonation (HTC-ARK)
Duration:
2015 - 2016

Project Lead:
FH-Prof. Dr. Werner Stadlmayr

Team:
Fabian Huber, BSc

Kevin Höcherl, BSc

Description:
Biomass - for example sewage sludge, algae or foliage - has attracted much research attention as potential renewable resource. While there are multiple different pretreatments availible, the hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) is sticking out as a environmentally compatible and future-oriented method. HTC is a technique where biomass is converted to coal-like substances using elevated temperatures and pressures and water. This approach yields three distinct advantages: - The needed temperatures are often lower than for alternate methods. - There is no need to dry the biomass beforehand, removing a very energy consuming step. - Waste gases are partially solved in the process water und are thus captured, possibly making a costly posttreatment obsolete. The goal of this study is a better understanding of the reaction kinetics und the chemistry involved in this fascinating reaction - any broadening of the basic knowledge might help to ensure practical implementation of the process in the future.

Activated Membrane
Duration:
2020 - 2021

Project Lead:
Jan Back, BSc MSc

Team:
Nick Kachelriess, BSc

Description:
Activated Membrane - Preparation and Optimization of Hybrid-Membranes with Embedded Activated Carbon for Micropollutant Removal Pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals and other hormone-active substances, even in low concentrations in the μg to ng/L range, can cause harm to aquatic ecosystems, including infertility and feminization of entire fish cultures. If drinking water is produced from these waters, damage to humans cannot be ruled out. Since current wastewater treatment plants do not sufficiently degrade these micropollutants, research is conducted on various micropollutant removal methods. The combination of adsorptive processes with membrane separation is rated as particularly promising. In this project, a novel combination is to be investigated in which activated carbon is embedded directly into the membrane matrix of phase inversion membranes, thus enabling a one-step process of adsorption and membrane filtration. This "Activated Membrane" will first be tested and optimized under laboratory conditions with selected micropollutants, in order to subsequently test the separation efficiency with real wastewater samples. Other important issues are the regeneration of the hybrid membrane after loading and the fouling properties. "Activated Membrane" could be a promising concept for the elimination of micropollutants and, eventually, for reducing the environmental impact of wastewater treatment plant effluents.

OptiFaul - Improving the energy efficiency of wastewater treatment plants by optimizing the digester mixing
Duration:
2019 - 2022

Project Lead:
FH-Prof. Dr. Michael Meister, MSc

Team:
Dr.-Ing. Martin Pillei, BSc MSc

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Marc Koch

Thomas Neuner, BSc, MSc

Description:
Major objective of the project OptiFaul is to reduce the needed energy demand in digestion towers. Scientific interest of fundamental understanding on the one hand as well as economics aspects on the other hand are the driving forces to optimize mixing process in such reactors. Since sludge found in digestion reactors differs from Newtonian fluids such as water, acquired findings from wastewater treatment may not be used directly. Therefore, investigations considering this certain fluid characteristics are required. The present project has a highly practical value since reducing energy demand has direct impact on operating costs. Because of structural aspects as well as the nature of sludge, visual monitoring of mixing efficiency is not possible. Hence, the needed amount of inserted energy through mixing is generally exceeded. Process parameters for optimized operation gathered in this project are compared with actual parameters of nearby wastewater treatment plants. Hence, it is expected that plant operators are directly benefiting from the results.

Production of composite multi-channel capillary membranes for nanofiltration
Duration:
2014 - 2015

Project Lead:
Dr. Martin Spruck, MSc

Team:
Iris Eichner, BSc

Description:
Membrane technology has become established as a separation process in the field of water treatment. The aim of the research project is the development of novel nanofiltration membranes based on multi-channel capillary systems. This special design offers advantages such as a high packing density and reduced risk of blocking. The fields of application of such membranes are in the pharmaceutical, beverage and textile industries as well as in wastewater treatment.

EHIL - Use of charcoal in industrial agriculture
Duration:
2019 - 2021

Project Lead:
Thomas Hämmerle, BSc, MSc

Team:
Thomas Klammsteiner, MSc

Sabrina Dumfort, BSc MSc

Felix Kurzemann, MA

Description:
The aim of the project is the practical co-composting of charcoal and the application of this soil mixture in industrial agriculture. To achieve this goal, several sub-goals are pursued in the project, i.a. Production of various final formulations and application of these on trial areas in order to observe the effects on plant growth and chemical as well as microbiological changes of the soil.

KLA:R sewage sludge and wastewater: Use resources
Duration:
2015 - 2016

Project Lead:
FH-Prof. Mag. Marco Rupprich, Ph.D.

Team:
Mag. Alexander Dumfort

Description:
With the KLA:R project of the association klasse!Forschung, complex connections in wastewater treatment are prepared together with experts from science and industry in such a way that they can be taught fascinatingly to children and adolescents from 8 to 18 years from Innsbruck west to Telfs. School and extracurricular activities, with a particular focus on young girls and immigrant students, should inspire enthusiasm for modern technologies and applications of wastewater treatment, including the entrepreneurial context, and raise awareness of the conservation of our resources.


BioAdd - Additive for the quality-preserving storage of wood chippings
Duration:
2017 - 2020

Project Lead:
Sabrina Dumfort, BSc MSc
Prof. (FH) Dr. techn. Angela Hofmann

Team:
Silvia Kostner

Philip Eienbach, BSc

Stefan Eder, BSc

Description:
The aim of this project is to investigate the applicability of alkaline additives during the storage of wood chips. On the one hand, this measure ensures a reduction in the loss of substance due to microbial degradation processes, on the other hand, the risk of spontaneous combustion of the debris is weakened. In addition, the influence of the additives on the subsequent combustion and gasification of the fuel is investigated. In addition to laboratory experiments and storage trials, the economic and technical feasibility will be validated and a concept for fuel additive during storage will be developed.


  • J. Back, B. Hupfauf, A. Rößler, S. Penner, M. Rupprich. Adsorptive removal of micropollutants from wastewater with floating-fixed-bed gasification char. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 2020, 8(3), 103757.
  • J. Back, R. Brandstätter, M. Spruck, M. Koch, S. Penner, M. Rupprich. Parameter Screening of PVDF/PVP Multi-Channel Capillary Membranes. Polymers, 2019, 11(3), 463.
  • Meister, Michael; Rauch, Wolfgang (2016): Wastewater treatment modelling with smoothed particle hydrodynamics. In: Environmental Modelling & Software 75, pp. 206 - 211.
  • M. Spruck, W. Stadlmayr, M. Koch, L. Mayr, S. Penner, M. Rupprich. Influence of the coagulation medium on the performance of poly(ether sulfone) flat-sheet membranes. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 2015, 132, 41645.
  • B. Hupfauf, T. Hämmerle, M.Lepuschitz (2016). Plant growth tests and the issue of the analysis of PAHs with biochar from gasifier plants. Energy Procedia, 93, 9-13. doi: 10.1016/j.egypro.2016.07.142

  • T. Hämmerle, B. Hupfauf (2019, September). Effect of co-composted charcoal from gasifier plants on plant growth, nutrient uptake and soil fertility. Presented at ECI Conference Biochar II: Production, Characterization and Applications, Cetraro, Italy
  • Hofmann A., Neuner R., Bekerthy F., Thaler R.: "Modelling low temperature gasification strategies in a floating fixed bed reactor with an ASPEN-Plus-based simulation tool SBR-Sim 3.0", ICREN 2018, Barcelona
  • B. Hupfauf, T. Hämmerle, M.Lepuschitz, Plant growth tests and the issue of the analysis of PAHs with biochar from gasifier plants, Africa-EU Symposium on Renewable Energy Research and Innovation, At University Abou Bekr Belkaid Tlemcen, Algeria
  • Meister, Michael: A GPU-Compatible Scheme for Coupling SPH to Process-Based Wastewater Treatment Models. 11th SPHERIC International Conference, Garching, 16. Juni 2016.
  • B. Hupfauf; Quality of biochar production, 17th International Conference SLOBIOM 2017, Ljubljana, 2017