Dr Alexey Alekseenko | Lightning Talks

He led and was engaged in environmental projects for industries extracting coal, metals, diamonds, and building materials. His expertise expands from pollution assessment to the restoration of ecosystems, advancing the Resource Nexus approach in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Alexey currently studies post-mining legacies and opportunities in Lusatia in the broader context of global coal phase-out and energy transition.

Copyright: private

Peter Boelens | Lightning Talks
Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Germany

He is a bio-engineer from Ghent University, specializing in innovative technologies for sustainable resource recovery. His Master’s thesis research at the Center of Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET) focused on electrochemical nitrogen recovery from urine to microbial protein. With prior experience in the biotechnological and resource field in Belgium and Germany, he embarked on a PhD journey at the Biotechnology department of the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF), developing a novel biomagnetic separation of ultrafine fluorescent phosphors for recycling rare-earth elements from end-of-life fluorescent lamps.

Modern microelectronics contain 20-60 different chemical elements. Most of these elements are mined at considerable environmental impact from deposits with grades below 1% and only a few of them are effectively recycled. Multiple new approaches for imporved circularity of electronics are currently emerging. Considerable research is going into the application of particle separation methods traditionally used for ores, such as flotation or strong field magnetic seperation, for enhanced recovery in recycling processes. The planned infrastructure FlexiPlant develops new approaches to the better recycling of electronics, based on larger structures and functional seperation of elements. Several new design principles of electronics using alternate materials and strategies currently considered for the planned execellence Cluster REC2 can potentially change the future of electronics recycling. All these innovative approaches are considered in systemic modelling and impact quantifications of the future of electronics recycling.

The talk provides a short insight into these current develoment in Saxony and show how they might interact on the systemic level of recycling.

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Dr Michelle Browne | Lightning Talks
Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, Germany

Dr Michelle Browne is a Helmholtz Young Investigator group leader at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (Germany) since July 2022. Her group is developing and understanding new materials, including MXenes, for the generation of green hydrogen via electrochemical water splitting.

Michelle obtained her Ph.D in Chemistry from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) Ireland and conducted her post-doctoral research in Czech Republic, Ireland and the United Kingdom.  Michelle is on the committee of the Royal Society of Chemistry Electrochemistry Interest group, Electrochemistry editor for Results in Chemistry, and a member of the Advisory Board of ChemElectroChem and the Journal of Solid-State Electrochemistry. To date, Michelle has received numerous awards for her research including the Curious Minds Research Award 2023, International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE) Elsevier Prize for Applied Electrochemistry award 2021, L’Oréal-UNESCO UK and Ireland For Women in Science 2021 Rising Talent fellowship and the Clara Immerwahr award 2021 from UniSysCat.

In the Electrocatalysis: Synthesis to Devices Group at HZB, our research is focused on combining MXenes and metal oxides to create the next generation Oxygen Evolution Reaction (OER) catalysts (the bottleneck reaction in electrochemical water splitting to produce H2). 1 Metal oxides are known to be active for the OER but lack high conductivity. On the other hand, MXenes are highly conductive but oxidise readily under several conditions due to its termination sites and don’t contain OER active sites.2 To overcome these issues, we employ several strategies in our group to combine these two materials to make one material which is OER active and high conductive. Furthermore, by blocking the MXene termination sites with a metal oxide, this may lead to less oxidation of the MXenes structure.

This presentation will focus on the development of Co-based MXene materials for the OER through various fabrication methods and combining Co with other metal oxide materials (e.g. CoCu and CoFe) to produce Green H2.


  1. Y. Gogotsi and Q. Huang, ACS Nano, 2021, 15, 5775-5780.
  2. D. Tyndall, L. Gannon, L. Hughes, J. Carolan, S. Pinilla, S. Jaśkaniec, D. Spurling, O. Ronan, C. McGuinness, N. McEvoy, V. Nicolosi and M. P. Browne, npj 2D Materials and Applications, 2023, 7, 15.
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Dr Šárka Cabadová Waisová | Lightning Talks
Czech Hydrogen Technological Platform, Czech Republic

Šárka Waisová is Associate Professor of International Relations. She has previously worked at universities in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Taiwan. Her publications cover critical strategic raw materials, Chinese influence in Central Europe and environmental security. Šárka is currently working as a senior analyst for legislation and strategies at the Czech Hydrogen Technology Platform (HYTEP). Her research focuses on the transposition of EU norms into Czech legislation, geopolitical issues related to the development of the hydrogen ecosystem and obstacles to the development of the Czech hydrogen economy.

Hydrogen is currently enjoying a widespread momentum in the energy market. As concerns about climate change and fossil fuels import dependence are increasing, governments are looking at hydrogen as a possible solution to reach carbon neutrality and energy security goals. The Czech Republic is also turning its eyes to hydrogen. Hydrogen visionaries see renewable hydrogen playing a pivotal role in the transition to a low-carbon industry, transportation and heating as well as ensuring energy security. In the case of the Czech Republic, however, such optimism is not appropriate. The Czech Republic is facing many obstacles in building a clean hydrogen ecosystem. Some of these obstacles are relatively easy to remove (lack of legislation), but others are fundamental and difficult to remove (geographic location and minimal access to abundant renewable energy resources). The aim of this presentation is to analyse the barriers that are difficult to remove and the opportunities that the Czech Republic must overcome them. This analysis will point out, among other things, that in the first phase of the development of the Czech clean hydrogen economy, a domestic renewable hydrogen production system must be established, but with the development of the European Hydrogen Backbone and the hydrogen import system, Czech renewable hydrogen producers will most likely disappear as their hydrogen production will not be price competitive. This fact puts any promotion of any domestic renewable hydrogen production in the Czech Republic in a problematic light and raises many questions.

Copyright: private

Jo De Boeck | The Green Future of Microelectronics in Europe
Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) and EVP at imec, Belgium

Jo De Boeck received his EE (1986) and PhD (1991) degrees from the University of Leuven.  Since 1986 he is with imec (HQ Leuven, Belgium). In his research career, he has been leading activities on integration of novel materials at device level and new functionalities at systems level.  In 2003 he became Vice President at IMEC for the Microsystems division and in 2005 joined imec’s executive board and started first imec entity outside Belgium (Holst Centre, Netherlands).   He headed imec’s Smart Systems and Energy Technology Business Unit. In 2011 he became imec’s Chief Technology Officer and in 2018 he was appointed Chief Strategy Officer. His focus areas as EVP are public-private partnerships, government relations, the imec innovation investment pipeline for breakthrough R&D and spin-offs, the imec.istart venture accelerator and academic relations, including imec associated PhDs and PostDocs.

He has been a NATO Science Fellow at Bellcore (USA, 1991-92) and AST-fellow in the Joint Research Center for Atom Technology (Japan, 1998). He is part-time professor at the KU Leuven and was a visiting professorship at the TU Delft, Kavli Institute for Nanoscience (2003–2016).

Copyright: EPFL Nicolas Schopfer

Prof. Ambrogio Fasoli | Shaping the Future
Program Manager (CEO), EUROfusion, Switzerland

He is the Program Manager (CEO) of the European Consortium for Fusion Energy, EUROfusion, the Director of the Swiss Plasma Center at EPFL, and the Delegate to the Provost of EPFL. 

Ambrogio Fasoli, an honorary member of the American Physical Society, studied at the University of Milan and obtained his Ph.D. at EPFL, then, after conducting experiments on the European JET tokamak in the United Kingdom, became a professor at MIT, in the US, where he worked from 1997 to 2001, before being appointed at EPFL. From 2014 through 2020 he has been the Editor-in-Chief of the Nuclear Fusion journal, of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The European roadmap provides a holistic view covering all aspects and the remaining challenges that need to be tackled before realizing a fusion power plant. The most important elements of the European fusion roadmap are the international ITER experiment, the DEMO demonstration plant and the IFMIF-DONES neutron source for testing and validation of materials. In the rapidly changing international fusion landscape, the EUROfusion Consortium  is proposing to adapt the European fusion programme to support the ongoing re-baselining of ITER as well as to realise DEMO at the fastest possible time scale by an R&D and design programme that is parallel to ITER operation.

Copyright: EPFL Nicolas Schopfer

Ing. Jafar Fathi | Lightning Talks
Institute of Plasma Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic

Jafar Fathi is a Ph.D. candidate researcher at the Institute of Plasma Physics, Prague. He has more than ten years of experience in plasma sciences and technology. Right now, he has one EU-cofounded project under the MSCA CZ OP JAK grant.

topic: Investigation of CO2-Free Methane Decomposition by Plasma-Assisted Thermo-Catalytic Hybrid (PATCH) System to Achieve High-Yield Hydrogen and Pure Carbon Black as Product.

Acronym: H2PATCH

According to the Climate Crisis and Clean Energy Challenge, decarbonization of energy suppliers and industrial activity is vital. The main source of carbon dioxide that humans cause is fossil fuels. Nowadays, alternative energy sources as well as renewable ones are introduced. However, the decarbonization of fossil fuels is still a challenge.

Plasma pyrolysis technology represents a groundbreaking approach to decarbonization and energy transition by utilizing high-power microwave plasma to decompose organic-based materials, such as methane, into hydrogen and solid carbon nanomaterials. This innovative method, known as Plasma Methane Pyrolysis (PMP), offers a sustainable pathway for transforming carbonaceous waste into valuable resources. By breaking down methane molecules at high temperatures, PMP produces hydrogen gas, a clean energy source, and solid carbon nanomaterials with diverse applications in various industries. This lecture explores the principles of plasma pyrolysis technology, its potential for decarbonization, and its role in advancing toward a greener and more sustainable future.

Copyright: EPFL Nicolas Schopfer

Dr Jose Hugo Garcia Aguilar | Lightning Talks
Fundacio Institut Catala De Nanociencia I Nanotecnologia, Spain

Dr José H. Garcia, a Senior Researcher at ICN2, brings a decade of expertise in theoretical simulations of quantum electronic devices using low-symmetry materials. He currently leads the ERC Starting Grant project AI4SPIN, focusing on unlocking the potential of electronic structures databases through advanced quantum transport calculations, heuristic optimization, and AI to develop next-generation memories. Garcia is the principal developer of the LINQT code on the LSQUANT platform, enabling linear-scaling quantum transport across various models. His work extends to creating algorithms now integral to other quantum transport software. Garcia has managed research teams and contributed significantly as PI and Co-PI on multiple projects.

In this lightning talk, I’ll provide a quick overview of the potential synergies between artificial intelligence and material science, highlighting how these are already unfolding in Europe. I will specifically focus on elucidating which fields of electronics could greatly benefit from leveraging artificial intelligence, along with the associated challenges and opportunities.

Copyright: SMWK / Ben Gierig

Sebastian Gemkow  | Opening
Saxon State Minister for Science, Culture and Tourism, Germany

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Dr Ali Javed | Lightning Talks
Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany

He is leading “The Cell Testing Team” within the functional materials department at IEK-9, Forschungszentrum Jülich. The team is investigating experimental solutions to enhance PEM electrolyzer performance by mitigating degradation rates. His previous postdoctoral work focused on proton conductivity in nanomaterials at the University of Bayreuth in Germany. In 2022, he received a doctorate degree from the University of Paderborn in Germany. His research, part of the COORNETs project, focused on the experimental investigation of proton-conducting MOF materials. At the German Aerospace Center in Stuttgart, he conducted research on SOFC anode catalyst as the subject of his master thesis.

Ali Javed*, André Karl, Hans Kungl, Eva Jodat, Rüdiger-A. Eichel
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Fundamentals of Electrochemistry IEK-9

In recent years, green hydrogen generation by water electrolysis has emerged as a potential integral part of modern and sustainable energy conversion systems. This is due to the modularity of electrolyzers, which allows for the generation of power-to-gas plants on a megawatt scale.1 Polymer electrolyte membrane electrolytic cells (PEMEC) is one of the electrolyzer types that fulfills the requirements for fast dynamic response, simple implementation, high efficiency, and high purity of hydrogen.2 Despite being a cutting-edge technology, PEMEC is still in the early stages of commercialization.

PEMEC can be commercialized faster by overcoming current challenges such as failure diagnosis, failure mitigation, long-term sustainability, etc. Analytical and numerical methods have been reported to evaluate the performance of this dynamic system.3 However, these methods have only been investigated for a limited range of data, with some assumptions.4 In this case, it is necessary to perform a long-term study with data processing under real conditions.

In this work, physical and electrical diagnostic tools were proposed to ensure a precise assessment of the degradation rate and health status of an operating PEMEC. These health indicators can be monitored via multiple sensors, which provide control over each subsystem of the PEMEC system. Monitoring the data over time can map a correlation between these sensing parameters that can track the degradation process. Further, the use of a data-driven approach can build an incremental model that can determine the cause of voltage rise or drop during the operation of a running electrolyzer. This can contribute to the early detection of faults and prevent serious damage to the system. Moreover, the remaining useful life can be evaluated.

  1. Abomazid, A. M., El-Taweel, N. A. & Farag, H. E. Z. Novel Analytical Approach for Parameters Identification of PEM Electrolyzer. IEEE Trans Industr Inform 18, 5870–5881 (2022).
  2. Siracusano, S. et al. Optimization of components and assembling in a PEM electrolyzer stack. Int J Hydrogen Energy 36, 3333–3339 (2011).
  3. Toghyani, S. et al. Optimization of operating parameters of a polymer exchange membrane electrolyzer. Int J Hydrogen Energy 44, 6403–6414 (2019).
  4. Falcão, D. S. & Pinto, A. M. F. R. A review on PEM electrolyzer modelling: Guidelines for beginners. J Clean Prod 261, 121184 (2020).

This work was financially supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF): Wasserstoff – Leitprojekt H2Giga, Teilvorhaben DERIEL (project number 03HY122C).

*corresponding author: a.javed@fz-juelich.de

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Dr Boštjan Končar | Lightning Talks
Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI), Slovenia

Boštjan Končar is Head of the Slovenian Fusion Association (SFA), scientific advisor at JSI and Slovenian delegate to the EURATOM Fusion Programme Committee. He holds a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana, and was a visiting scientist at the Forschungszentrum Dresden Rossendorf in 2004. He is leading the national research programme on Fusion Technologies. His research focuses on numerical and experimental investigations in the fields of two-phase flow and heat transfer, nuclear thermohydraulics and fusion reactor systems.

The development of fusion technologies requires a multidisciplinary approach and specific skills, where research groups in smaller countries can play a key role in advancing some specific areas. The experimental facilities at the Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI) in Slovenia are such an example, making a significant contribution within the EUROfusion programme. The water activation loop, with a well-defined neutron and gamma ray source, addresses challenges of understanding dose rates around the water-cooling channels of future fusion reactors ITER and DEMO. The JSI 2MV Tandetron accelerator uses its niche capabilities to investigate processes of hydrogen atom interaction with fusion-relevant materials. The most recent asset is a small thermohydraulic loop, designed to understand and improve the cooling processes in plasma-facing components.

Copyright: private

Prof. Dominik Kraus | Lightning Talks
University of Rostock, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR)

Dominik Kraus is a professor for high energy density physics at University of Rostock and group leader at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Germany. He received his PhD at TU Darmstadt, Germany in 2012 for experimental work at the PHELIX laser of GSI Helmholtzzentrum for heavy ion research. He then moved to UC Berkeley as a postdoc to conduct experiments at the Linac Coherent Light Source of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and at the National Ignition Facility of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In 2016, he joined HZDR as a Helmholtz Young Investigator Group Leader to work towards first experiments using the Helmholtz International Beamline for Extreme Fields (HIBEF) at the High Energy Density instrument of European XFEL. Before starting the professorship in Rostock in 2020, he also headed the high energy density division at HZDR from 2018 to 2020.

Experiments at the National Ignition Facility of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US have produced the first burning fusion plasmas in the laboratory. Around the globe, this remarkable success has sparked numerous initiatives towards a first power plant, including large-scale public and private investments. Indeed, substantial advancements in laser technology suggest that an inertial fusion power plant could become a reality. But what does it need on this path? Is fusion energy now solely an engineering problem?

Copyright: Pawel Sosnowski

Michael Kretschmer |  Panel Discussion
Minister-President of the Free State of Saxony, Germany

Copyright: Pawel Sosnowski

Prof. Victor Malka | Lightning Talks
Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

Victor Malka, Professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and Scientific Director in ELI-NP in Romania. He has obtained his PhD thesis at Ecole Polytechnique in 1990 where he has been a CNRS Exceptional Class Research Director and a Professor at Ecole Polytechnique. His initial research work was on atomic physics and laser confinement fusion. His work is now mainly devoted to relativistic laser plasma interaction, laser plasma accelerators, and their related societal applications in which he made several breakthrough contributions.

Copyright: Nadia Barth

Dr Silvia Masillo | Lightning Talks
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

Silvia Masillo is a research scientist at the Swiss Plasma Center, EPFL. After earning a Master’s in Astronautics and Space Engineering from Sapienza University of Rome, she embarked on a PhD at the University of Surrey, UK. Her research focused on the experimental characterization of a novel Hall effect-based thruster, contributing to advancements in plasma propulsion systems for small satellites. In 2023, she transitioned to fusion power research, joining the Tokamak Physics group at the Swiss Plasma Center, where she works on X-ray diagnostics for the Tokamak à Configuration Variable (TCV) and focuses on the study of the plasma core in tokamaks.

As the quest for sustainable energy solutions intensifies, the Swiss Plasma Center’s Tokamak à Configuration Variable (TCV) at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) plays a pivotal role in fusion research within the EUROfusion consortium. Addressing critical challenges ahead of ITER and future fusion power plants, TCV stands for its significant educational role in training the next generation of fusion scientists and engineers. The recent technical advances in upgraded heating systems, expanded diagnostic capabilities, and advanced control systems, coupled with its renowned plasma shaping and control techniques, make TCV an essential experimental platform for the Swiss Plasma Center’s local teams and its international partners. In parallel, modeling and computational advancements complement the experimental breakthrough, deepening the understanding of complex plasma behaviors and steering the design of future fusion power plants.

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Iwona Masłowska Lipowicz | Pitches
Łukasiewicz – Łódzki Instytut Technologiczny, Poland

Iwona Masłowska-Lipowicz, PhD, experience: chemical synthesis, pharmacological research, dyes, auxiliary agents – application to textile materials, enzymatic and antimicrobial technology of textile finishing; scientific interests: chemical synthesis, application of new substances to materials, chemistry of food, cosmetics and materials, recovery of valuable components from waste biomass. Contractor and manager in numerous national projects, e.g. Innovative Distribution System for Healthy and Regional Food, and international projects, e.g. Development of microbiologically active, user and environmentally friendly materials for light industry. In 2023, winner of the grand prize at Demo Day of the Lukasiewicz Accelerator programme, for the project „Lightweight structural material from mycelium“.

Materials based on mycelium, which grows on industrial and food waste, can be used for energy-efficient and sustainable construction applications. Mycelium grows to fill any mould, allowing various structures to be formed, even in complex shapes. Higher fungi are characterised by low requirements during cultivation, so the main benefits of using this prototype are: lower production cost, lower energy consumption, reduced use of chemicals, lower impact on the environment. In addition, the product is completely biodegradable.

Copyright: Tobias Ritz ct.qmat

Dr Tobias Meng | Lightning Talks
Cluster of Excellence ct.qmat, Dresden University of Technology, Germany

He is heading the „Quantum Design“ group at the Dresden University of Technology. Together with his team, he researches how quantum materials can be used to create novel functionalities. Dr. Meng’s groundbreaking research was recognized by the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz price in 2022.

Quantum technology holds extraordinary promises for future technological applications such as quantum information technology.  It may furthermore pave the way for outstandingly energy-efficient devices. To turn these dreams into reality, however, three important goals need to be met. First, the complex physics of the quantum materials used to build future devices needs to be thoroughly understood. Second, novel quantum states need to be created in these materials. Third, control over these quantum states is crucial for them to unfold their full potential in devices.

Copyright: Lehigh University

Prof. Srinivas Rangarajan | Shaping the Future
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Lehigh University, Bethlehem PA, USA

Srinivas Rangarajan is an Associate Professor and the Dolores T. and William E. Schiesser Faculty Fellow at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Lehigh University. Srinivas started at Lehigh in 2017 as an Assistant Professor; prior to that, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Srinivas obtained his PhD degree from the University of Minnesota and his undergraduate degree from IIT Madras, India, both in chemical engineering. Srinivas’s research is at the intersection of catalysis, machine learning, and process systems engineering; his group develops and applies novel computational tools to elucidate reaction mechanisms of emerging catalytic systems. His research has been recognized with an NSF Early Career Award, ACS PRF Doctoral New Investigator Award, and the David Smith Graduate Publication Award from the CAST division of AIChE. His research is (or has been) supported by the National Science Foundation, American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, Department of Energy, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the industry.

The chemical industry accounts for 900 million tons of CO2 emissions globally and about 30% of the energy needs of the US manufacturing sector. Much of the “raw material” and energy needs of the industry are met from fossil sources. Consequently, a sustainable, net-zero world necessarily requires a “green” and “decarbonized” chemical industry to provide clean, equitable, and affordable energy carriers, chemicals, and materials essential for our lives. This requires completely redesigning our chemical processes to: (1) convert waste sources of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen to drop-in chemicals and energy carriers that are carbon neutral and circular; (2) leverage renewable energy to drive these chemical transformations; and (3) employ molecules and materials that are earth abundant and environmentally benign. This is intrinsically a problem of multiple length and time scales, since the development of a new molecule, material, or a chemistry cannot happen without simultaneously considering questions at higher scales/scope. Therefore, addressing these challenges requires multidisciplinary teams.

In this context, this talk will provide an overview of US (and my) perspectives and priorities on net-zero manufacturing of chemicals and energy carriers, and the fundamental chemistry and materials challenges that arise. Subsequently, I will present vignettes of fundamental catalysis research questions that my group and our collaborators at Lehigh are pursuing in electrochemical CO2 conversion, plasma-enhanced catalysis, hydrogen storage and transportation, and data-driven methodological developments to model and design chemical reaction systems.

Copyright: private

Ulrike Michel-Schneider | Pitches
Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) and 1to1design

Ulrike Michel-Schneider is currently a Ph.D. student at the Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU) under the topic of knowledge and technology transfer. She is involved in various applied research projects in collaboration with the Czech company 1to1design. Prior to her PhD projects, she studied Business Administration and received her Bachelor of Science from San Francisco State University and her MBA from HHL – Graduate School of Management, Leipzig.

The Hydrocycle project is dedicated to developing a hydrogen-powered motorcycle designed to innovate the future of mobility, especially for compact vehicles. This visionary project is led by a collaborative Czech-Saxon research consortium, comprising organizations such as Fraunhofer IWU, WätaS Wärmetauscher Sachsen, 1to1design, Czech Technical University, and ÚJV Řež. The project evolved as a direct response to a call for joint projects focused on sustainable mobility and transportation systems.

Copyright: Aleksander Zdjarsky

Dr Anna Sandak | Lightning Talks
InnoRenew CoE, Slovenia

She is the Deputy Director for Science and head of the Materials Department at InnoRenew CoE in Slovenia. She is also an associate professor at the University of Primorska, where she serves as a Management Board member of the New European Bauhaus Academy Pioneer Hub. In 2022 Dr Sandak was awarded the ERC consolidator grant for the project ARCHI-SKIN (101044468-ERC-2021-COG), which aims to push the boundaries of traditional materials toward the development of engineered living materials.

Conventional building materials, such as concrete, metals, and plastics possess a large carbon footprint due to energy-intensive manufacturing and direct emissions during production and operation processes. Engineered living materials (ELM) use an alternative (living) set of building blocks compared with conventional man-made materials. The convergence of engineering, biology, and materials science allows the integration of unicellular and multicellular organisms into next-generation engineered systems. ELMs, being a combination of artificial and biological components, are considered the most relevant contemporary revolution in materials science and engineering. This talk will provide an overview of the prospect of ELMs in the building sector and their potential for shifting conventional construction into living infrastructure.

Copyright: HZDR/Christoph Reichelt

Prof. Sebastian M. Schmidt  |  Opening, Closing
Scientific Director of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), Germany

Sebastian M. Schmidt started his scientific career at the University of Rostock and at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna. He completed his doctorate in theoretical physics in Rostock in 1995. After a scholarship at Tel Aviv University and as a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at Argonne National Laboratory (USA), he took over the leadership of an Emmy Noether junior research group sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG), at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in 2000. From 2007 to 2020, he served as a member of the Board of Directors at the Forschungszentrum Jülich for the areas of matter and information. Since 2012 he holds a professorship for physics at RWTH Aachen University.

Copyright: private

Benjamin Sovacool | Introductory Talk
Institute for Global Sustainability at Boston University, USA

Benjamin Sovacool, Professor of Earth and Environment at Boston University and Founding Director of the Institute for Global Sustainability, is a renowned expert in energy and environmental policy. Previously holding directorial positions at the Sussex Energy Group and the Center for Energy Technologies, his work encompasses energy policy, climate change mitigation, and adaptation, with a keen focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and the socio-political aspects of energy decisions.

Sovacool’s research, which has been recognized by figures like former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, contributed as a Lead Author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report. He serves on the Board on Environmental Change and Society for the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. As a highly cited researcher in energy and climate policy controversies, his work has received extensive international media coverage, highlighting his impact on global environmental issues.

Decarbonizing industry represents a complex, daunting technical challenge.  The industrial sector provides critical products such as electronics, machinery, metals, chemicals, and textiles, but is technically “difficult to decarbonize” because of the diversity of fuels and services it harnesses across very heterogenous operations clustered across different types of factories and processes.  This framing as a technical challenge lends itself to technical solutions such as advancing early-stage research and development in carbon capture and utilization and hydrogen technologies, improving the energy-efficiency of industrial processing, scaling new prototypes through demonstrations, electrification of heating, and investing in new sources of low-carbon electricity supply (among others).   However, this framing obscures many of the nontechnical aspects of the industrial decarbonation challenge, aspects that involve social and even ethical considerations. Communities and workers may see their homes and livelihoods tied to oil and gas production and fossil-fuel consuming industries severely disrupted. Whether and how these industries decide to comply with government climate policies and public pressures to phase-out fossil fuels has the potential to transform the cultural, economic and political landscape. These nontechnical elements to industrial decarbonization are explored in this presentation, along with conceptual frameworks focusing on justice (such as Just Transitions) and accelerated low-carbon transitions as a topic.

Copyright: private

Giovanni Stabile | Lightning Talks
Sant’Anna School for Advanced Studies Pisa, Italy

Giovanni Stabile is an associate professor in numerical analysis at the Sant’Anna School for Advanced Studies in Pisa. From 2022 to 2024, he was an assistant professor (RTD-B) in numerical analysis at the Department of Pure and Applied Sciences, University of Urbino, Italy, and from 2016 to 2022, he was an assistant professor (RTD-A) and previously postDoc at SISSA, in Trieste, Italy. He received his Ph.D. in 2016 from a joint Ph.D. school between the TU Braunschweig in Germany and the University of Florence in Italy. He is a recipient of the ERC Starting Grant „Data Aware efficient models of the urbaN microclimaTE (DANTE)”.

The share of the world’s population living in cities is rapidly increasing, and it is expected to rise to 80% by 2050. It becomes, therefore, crucial to have efficient and reliable methods to model the urban microclimate; in fact, these models can support urban planners and policymakers in creating more comfortable and sustainable cities. Since at the urban level, pollutant dispersion depends on daily weather conditions, computational fluid dynamics models with low time scales, repeated evaluation, and fine mesh discretization must be used. The former requirements translate into huge memory requirements, making it essential to use HPC facilities to get results in reasonable time frames. However, the problem is suitable for employing Reduced Order Models (ROMs) to achieve fast converged solutions with limited loss of accuracy. The developed methodology is used to achieve real-time prediction of urban air pollution generated by vehicular traffic in a portion of the city of Bologna. The problem is parametrized by the direction and intensity of the velocity field at the boundary of the computational domain.

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 Dr Toma Toncian | Lightning Talks
Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), Germany

PD Dr Toma Toncian is head of the HIBEF department of HZDR located in Schenefeld at the EuXFEL. He is a laser-plasma physicist, with focus of development and applications of short-pulse lasers for the generation of impulsive particle and radiation, and strong-field science. He teaches at the Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf.

Recent availability of hard x-ray FEL radiation for probing dense and hot matter states has opened new vistas into investigations of HED science.

Here, we show that by the irradiation of a thin wire with single beam Joule-class short-pulse laser, a converging cylindrical shock is generated compressing the wire material to conditions relevant for the above applications. The shockwave was observed using Phase Contrast Imaging employing a hard X-ray Free Electron Laser with unprecedented temporal and spatial sensitivity. The data collected for Cu wires is in agreement with hydrodynamic simulations of an ablative shock launched by a highly-impulsive and transient resistive heating of the wire surface. The subsequent cylindrical shockwave travels towards the wire axis and is predictedto reach a compression factor of 9 and pressures above 800 Mbar.

Copyright: private

Prof. Tine Tysmans | Shaping the Future
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

Tine Tysmans, graduated MSc in Civil Engineering in 2006, is associate professor at the department of Mechanics of Materials and Constructions at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. In her research towards sustainable construction, she investigates novel concepts for resource-efficient lightweight structures, relying on the possibilities that material innovations bring. Internationally, she is known as an expert in the field of cement composites, active member of RILEM, and was a visiting researcher at Princeton University and ENISE Saint-Etienne. She is also co-founder of the company Konligo, developing efficient and sustainable deployable structures for events.

The construction sector is responsible for 50% of all material flows and 40% of the waste production worldwide. Concrete is still unmistakably the most used manmade material in the world, yet it comes with a huge burden on the environment. This presentation will demonstrate ways to make the building industry more sustainable, by developing innovative constructions that use materials in an efficient way. At present, the dimensions of concrete structures are still too often restricted by the steel reinforcement that is prone to corrosion and may lead to durability issues. Replacing steel by fibre textile reinforcement creates new perspectives for slender concrete structures.  This presentation explores how concrete structures can be reshaped to save materials, speed up the construction or renovation process, and optimize space use.

Copyright: Hagen Gebauer

Dr Jan-Martin Wiarda | Moderation

He is a Science Journalist, political scientist, economist. Studied in Munich and Chapel Hill (USA).

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Dr Marc Zimmer | Pitches

Dr Marc Zimmer earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Technische Universität Darmstadt, specializing in laser research. During his Master’s, he went to UC Berkeley for his thesis, working on intense particle accelerators. In his Ph.D., Dr. Zimmer combined his expertise in lasers and accelerators, developing laser-driven particle accelerators and demonstrated the first application of a laser-driven neutron source. As a postdoctoral researcher, he significantly contributed to the advancement of laser-driven radiation sources. Since Focused Energy GmbH has been founded in 2021, he has been leading the commercialization of laser-driven particle sources for fusion and related technologies.

Marc Zimmer1, Thomas Rösch1, Thomas Seupel2, Markus Roth1,2

  • Focused Energy GmbH, 64293 Darmstadt, Germany
  • Technische Universität Darmstadt, Darmstadt, Germany

Nuclear fusion is a long-standing dream of mankind but has always seemed to be 30-50 years away. This has changed in the recent years with significant improvements in related technologies as well as private startups joining the fusion race, significantly reducing the time needed for the first operational fusion power plant. This development was underpinned by the first ever fusion reaction with a positive energy output, produced at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in December 2022, which has been repeated since then for four times.

Focused Energy is a private fusion startup, based in Darmstadt and Austin (USA) that uses similar to the NIF experiment laser-driven inertial confinement fusion, based on Deuterium and Tritium, with the goal of generating electricity by fusion at the end of the next decade. With this in mind, Focused Energy is collecting the experts in this field from all over the World and is rapidly ramping up its capabilities.

While a fusion power plant is still more than a decade away, the technology developed by Focused Energy has led to a spin-off application that enables the non-destructive testing and characterization of low and intermediate level nuclear waste containers. This technology is currently developed in Darmstadt and is based on compact, transportable laser-driven neutron and X-ray sources and can be used for on-site characterization, validation, and content condition verification of waste containers, hydrogen infrastructure and shipping containers.