Five years ago, the NETME Center presented a new scientific team, which, under the leadership of Professor Jiří J. Klemeš, began research on the efficiency of the process and energy industries. During this time, a truly international team of the Sustainable Process Integration Laboratory (SPIL) has established itself at the faculty. Even though the original project ends at the end of April, the well-run work continues.
Achieve practical knowledge that will contribute to the greater efficiency of the industry. Contribute to the minimalis4ation of greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxides, and energy and water footprints. And also to build an internationally competitive research facility. The SPIL project, which the first phase ends by April this year, started in February 2017 with these considerable goals.
The success in the international scientific community exceeded Professor Klemeš’s expectations. “Instead of the planned 92 publications, we have 521, instead of six conferences we attended 118, and instead of eight lectures we had 336,” Klemeš sums up the team’s success. Prof. Klemeš himself is one of the most-cited scientists at the BUT and around the world.
The team was not stopped by a world pandemic, on the contrary. “During the pandemic, we all moved to a home office and our results have even improved. There was nothing else to do at home, so everyone worked, researched, wrote, published,” Klemeš praised.
The pandemic affected the team’s work in other ways as well: reflected in the research topics. An article on plastics and the environmental burden associated with the pandemic, published in the journal Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, was a great success not only in the scientific community but also in several mainstream media around the globe.
“If you want to be successful, you must not only do good science but also respond to the serious issues of the time. When we wrote the article about plastics at the time of the Covid-19, thousands of people outside the scientific community were interested, because the focus of our research had a big impact on a whole society,” says Klemes, adding that.
The SPIL team relies on the collaboration of scientists from all over the world. “The more international research, the better,” Klemeš believes and continues: “Research is a bit like genetics: and new blood is always beneficial. I’m glad our research team consists of scientists from all over the world: from Slovenia, through Malaysia to China,” he added.
In this context, the pandemic played a paradoxically positive role, teaching scientists worldwide the so-called hybrid format of conferences, where some participants and speakers arrive and some connect online. It saves time and emissions from transport, and for SPIL the hybrid format is probably the new standard of scientific meetings.
Not only the international spirit, but the young blood are the basis of Klemeš’s philosophy. “Young researchers make a huge contribution, they need to create great working conditions so that they can discover something new. We managed to find such a background in SPIL,” says Klemeš, and five fresh Ph.D. holders in his lab give him the truth. For example, Dr. Yee Van Fan has been with the team for many years and despite her youth Professor Klemeš is proud of her high H-index and does not hesitate to call her the “rising star”.
The SPIL project has now ended its five-year funding from European funds. However, the team continues to work, during the sustainability second phase, currently working on, for example, the RESHeat project, which aims to show how to save energy effectively.
They said about the SPIL project
“I use the knowledge of the SPIL team in my lecturing, among other things. And this is one of the intended consequences of this team’s work: sharing knowledge and educating the next generation. For me, working with SPIL is a great experience and I would like the team to continue what they do and how they contribute to the whole company.”
Professor Sandro Nižetić (University of Split, Croatia)
“SPIL is a world leader in sustainability and energy systems research. It is a hub of scientific innovations in Europe, attracting worldwide talents. I am very excited about collaborating with SPIL for this trans-Atlantic research collaboration to strengthen the tie of global knowledge exchange contributing to UN SDGs.”
Professor Fengqi You, Roxanne E. and Michael J. Zak Professor (Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA), A member of the Academic Advisory board
“I am very proud of the SPIL team and grateful for all the support and help.”
Profesor Paweł Ocłoń (Politechnika Krakowska, Poland), A member of the Academic Advisory board
“The SPIL-related conferences are held all over the world, moving to different countries, to different continents. And they’ve affected more people in the scientific community than they might think. They are the basis of a number of collaborations that are not directly related to SPIL, but could only have been created thanks to these events. This is SPIL’s contribution to the scientific community and a contribution to solving global problems.”
Professor Ferenc Friedler (Széchenyi István University, Hungary), A member of the Academic Advisory board