Tag Archives: SPIL

Profesor Jiří Klemeš_foto Igor Šefr_VUT

Professor Jiří Jaromír Klemeš passed away

Professor Jiří Jaromír Klemeš passed away. A distinguished scientist with extensive international experience, he returned to his Czech alma mater at the end of his career to establish and lead the team of the Sustainable Process Integration Laboratory (SPIL) at the NETME Centre.

Jiří Jaromír Klemeš was born in 1945 in Brno. He studied mechanical and chemical engineering at the Brno University of Technology, where he received his PhD in 1977. He then spent decades abroad, among others at universities in Great Britain, Poland, Hungary and China. In 2017, he returned to Brno, where he has managed to build an internationally renowned research team within the NETME Centre, which uses applicable knowledge to contribute to greater efficiency in the process and energy industries, in particular to minimise the so-called greenhouse, nitrogen, energy and water footprints. Thanks to Professor Klemeš’s international reputation, the SPIL team has also been able to collaborate with major institutions abroad. The conference of the same name, which Klemeš and his team organised in Brno, was also very popular internationally.

The renowned researcher was one of the most cited scientists in the world. He has been ranked in the prestigious Highly Cited Researchers list, where Clarivate annually ranks the top one percent of the most cited scientists in the world, three times, in 2018, 2020 and 2022. His work has been recognized with numerous honorary professorships and doctorates, including by the University of Maribor, University of Pannonia, the Hungarian Catholic University of Peter Pázmány and the University of Technology Malaysia.

On the occasion of the Highly Cited Researchers 2022 award, an interview with Professor Klemes was published, which you can read here.

Jiří Klemeš_náhled_foto Igor šefr (2)

Jiří Klemeš of the BUT is among the one percent of the most cited scientists globally

Professor Jiří Klemeš, who works at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of Brno University of Technology, ranks among the one percent of the most cited scientists in the world. Clarivate published today their prestigious Highly Cited Researchers list for 2022. Among the nearly seven thousand names from seventy countries, nine other Czech researchers are on the list, along with Professor Klemeš. Professor Klemeš appeared in the ranking for the third time, first in 2018 and then in 2020.

Professor Jiří Jaromír Klemeš has extensive foreign experience, having spent years at universities in Great Britain, Hungary and China. The renowned scientist returned to his Czech alma mater in 2017 to lead the team of the Laboratory of Process Integration for Sustainability (abbreviated to SPIL). Research focused on sustainability takes place in the NETME science center of the BUT Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.

According to Klemeš, the basis of successful research lies in multidisciplinarity. That is why he built his team in a way that covers a wide range of various fields. “Whatever you do, you always have to consider energy, water, emissions, waste and the impact on society. That is why our team also includes experts in geography or history. An exceptional scientific article creates a certain overlap and is interesting both for the broad scientific community and for wide public,” says Klemeš.

One of the successful professional texts that caught the attention of the world public was an article on impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the environment. “I realized how much single-use plastic and waste is related to healthcare. And that burden increased during the pandemic even further. My colleagues and I calculated the impact of the pandemic on our waste management and proposed six possible research directions aimed at mitigating the potential burden of Covid on this area,” explains Klemeš.

Going to the heart of the problem

A typical characteristic feature of the whole SPIL team is the effort to obtain the broadest possible view, which often results in surprising answers. “For example, CO2 is of course a big issue that is talked about a lot. But if we look at it from a global perspective, we see that reduction of emissions created by industry or transportation alone is not the solution. Around 2080, 10.5 billion people are predicted to live on Earth. Every person breathes, has to eat, dwell somewhere, and requires some standard of living. If our small country in the heart of Europe manages to reduce its emissions, it will certainly help and it does matter. But the core of the problem lies somewhere else,” says Klemeš.

His team also monitors the trend of rural depopulation and population migration to cities. “Today, more than half of the planet’s population lives in cities. For cities, the main problem is not CO2, which is rather a global problem. In cities, there exists a much more pressing issue of pollution, such as nitrogen oxides or micro- and nanoparticles, which kill millions of people every year. And electromobility will not help us in that. A huge amount of these nanoparticles is produced by car tires, and it does not matter whether they are used on an electric car or a car equipped with a combustion engine,” explains Klemeš. That is why his team is now dealing with the issue of so-called smart cities, which should take these problems into account. According to Klemeš, new, more environmentally friendly technologies make sense, but it is necessary to avoid giving in to the feeling that everything what is new is completely trouble-free or emission-free.

Thanks to the international reputation of Professor Klemeš, the SPIL conference, which his team has been organising for the 6th year and which coincidentally is taking place in Brno these days, has also gained a lot of attention. “This year we have 324 authors of papers from 29 countries and very prestigious departments. Only a part of the participants were on site, namely 55, and another 132 joined remotely, so the conference is again a hybrid, which proved to be successful for us during the pandemic. I see a great future in this for the whole international scientific community, because sometimes it really doesn’t make sense to fly halfway across the planet for one or two days and back again,” believes Klemeš.

The United States leads the ranking

Clarivate publishes a list of the most cited scientists annually. This year, it embraced 6,938 names of researchers from around the world. Analysts select from the Web of Science database 1% of the most cited scientific articles in individual fields over the past ten years. According to the authors of the ranking, the upper percentage of the most cited papers can be interpreted as a sign that the given scientific contribution has an extraordinary impact.

In international comparison, the United States was by far the most successful, with 2,764 scientists from the entire list (i.e. 38.3% of the awardees). China ranked second with 1,169 researchers (16.2% of the awardees). Among the institutions, Harvard University from the USA has the most scientists on the list. The ranking for 2022 also includes ten researchers who belong to a Czech research institution.

The overall results of Highly Cited Researchers 2022 are available here.


The more international the better. The SPIL project moved to the next phase

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.

0D7A6066International meeting of the SPIL project in April 2022 at FME (photo: Jiří Salik Sláma)

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.

0D7A5987Dean Jiří Hlinka also congratulated the team on its success (photo: Jiří Salik Sláma)

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.

New blood

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.

BUGA6307Professor Klemeš does not hesitate to call Dr. Yee Van Fan a “rising star” (photo: Jiří Salik Sláma)

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.

BUGA6331International meeting of the SPIL project in April 2022 at FME (photo: Jiří Salik Sláma)


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

The SPIL project (Sustainable Process Integration Laboratory) was supported by the Operational Program Research, Development and Education.logolink_OP_VVV_hor_barva_eng


New form in a new era: SPIL group from FSI organised the PRES and SPIL scientific conference in the hybrid form

The COVID-19 has been lasting for almost two years and has caused enormous changes in every aspect of our lives and work. The pandemic also challenged the field of scientific research and conferences. Scientific conferences which serve as a high‐impact international platform bring together researchers and multi-stakeholders from academia, government and private sectors to share the knowledge and experiences for the transformation towards a sustainable society. However, most of the conferences had to transform to an on-line form due to the mobility restrictions against the pandemic. The usual face-to-face lectures and discussions become supplemented by online audio, video, or even typing Q/A. It is evident that this fully on-line form can the smooth communication and effectiveness of the events.


PRES conference opening day – group photo

At the starting point of organising the conferences (January 2021), which are the 24th annual conference on Process Integration for Energy Saving and Pollution Reduction – PRES’21, and the follow-up SPIL Scientific Conference on Energy, Water, Emission, Waste in Industry and Cities, it was challenging to foresee the situation with the pandemic after about 10 months and decide to be fully on-line or a regular face-to-face conference. According to statistical data from the previous conference, more than 400 participants from more than 50 countries would be there. It would be impossible to set up the conference fitting the situation of all international participants. After rounds and rounds of discussions within the organising committee, the PRES conference president, Professor Jiří Jaromír Klemeš, announced to held the conference in a hybrid form, which is on-line conference for most of the international participants who are not able to travel, and with a limited number of on-site (face to face) spaces for participants who being able to manage to come to Brno. The organisation was quite challenging due to the frequent changes in infection situations and measures against the COVID-19. Even in this tough time, the conferences were finally successfully held both on-line, and on-site at the Hotel International Brno, the PRES’21 Conference from 31st October to 3th of November, and SPIL conference from 4th to 5th November 2021.


On-site PRES’21 Conference Parallel Session 1 lectures

Thanks to all the effort, supports and contributions from our PRES Conference President Prof Jiří Jaromir Klemeš, colleagues, collaborators, and all participants, the PRES Conference received a total number of 513 abstracts with 1,022 authors from 67 countries worldwide. Among these, 50 presentations with more than a hundred participants were delivered at the conference venue in Brno, with strict measures against COVID-19. In addition, ten invited lectures from distinguished professors and researchers, from world top universities and institutes, were also presented at both on-line and on-site conference. Prof Ignacio E. Grossmann from the Carnegie Mellon, a top US university, delivered the lecture titled “Optimal Synthesis and Planning of Sustainable Chemical Processes and Energy Systems”. Prof Santanu Bandyopadhyay from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and one of the pioneering researchers in Pinch Analysis, contributed with a lecture “Incorporating Uncertainties in Pinch Analysis”. Prof Raf Dewil, who is a leading expert in wastewater treatment, and the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Environmental Management, presented the plenary lecture with the title of “Energy Positive Wastewater Treatment: Creating Value from an Underexploited Resource to reveal the water-energy nexus developments”.


Awarding SPIL’21 Best Young Researcher Awards at the Conference closing ceremony

The conference also invited distinguished researchers from world top universities as Guest Speakers of Honour, including Prof Donald Huisingh from University of Tennessee, Prof Qiuwang Wang from Xi’an Jiaotong University, Prof Pen-Chi Chiang from National Taiwan University, Professor Stratos Pistikopoulos from Texas A&M University, Prof Soteris Kalogirou from Cyprus University of Technology and Prof André Bardow from ETH Zurich. In addition, there are 397 inspiring presentations on the virtual conference website, 1,354 comments and questions from the on-line participants. The lectures from Prof Grossmann received more than 400 views, which is right after the opening presentation from Prof Klemeš (543 views). Discussions are still continuing after the official ending of the conference, and we hope that will lead to many fruitful collaborations. This hybrid conference with all the presentations downloaded and commented enabled those who were interested “to be present” even if they missed them due to the impossibility of monitoring them in real time.

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Assoc Prof Ing Jiří Hlinka PhD opening the conference | Prof Ing Petr Stehlík, PhD, Dr.h.c. Plenary lecture presentation

The SPIL’21 Scientific conference, which followed the PRES conference, to reduce the environmental footprints for travelling, had also been successfully organised in hybrid form with the leading organisation of Dr Yee Van Fan. The conference hosted on-site more than 70 participants with 30 presentations at the conference venue and totalling 303 registered delegates. The conference started with a Welcome address by Vice-Dean Jiří Hlinka, and Opening Presentation by Prof Jiří Jaromír Klemeš (Head of SPIL), and the first invited lecture by Prof Petr Stehlík. A total of 14 invited lectures were presented to the participants, of which seven were delivered on-site. Prof Sandro Nižetić from the University of Split, Croatia, delivered his lecture with the title “A pathway to improve performance and applicability of photovoltaic technologies in energy transition”, sharing his visions in the future development of photovoltaic technologies in future energy supply. Prof Ms Aoife M. Foley, a leading researcher from Queen’s University Belfast and the Trinity Colleague, UK, and Editor-in-Chief of the high impacted journal Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews (IF 14.982) delivered the lecture titled “Green Energy Systems by 2050 for a ‘net’ Zero Carbon future”. Prof Fengqi You (Cornell University, US) and Prof Paweł Ocłoń (Cracow University of Technology, Poland) were another two invited plenary speakers of SPIL’21. A total of 106 presentations have been delivered on the virtual conference platform raising 1,380 comments and questions. The opening presentation of SPIL achievements was viewed on-line by 342 times. Guest Speakers of Honour included Prof André Bardow (ETH Zurich), Prof Dimitrios Gerogiorgis (The University of Edinburgh), Prof Iqbal M Mujtaba (University of Bradford), Prof Ignacio E. Grossmann (Carnegie Mellon University), Prof Petr Stehlik (VUT Brno), Prof Ferenc Friedler (Széchenyi István University), Prof Qiuwang Wang (Xi’an Jiaotong University), Prof Robin Smith (The University of Manchester), Prof Zdravko Kravanja (University of Maribor) and Dr Farooq Sher (Nottingham Trent University).


On-site SPIL’21 Opening Presentation by Prof Jiří Jaromír Klemeš

It has been a great challenge as well as a great experience for the whole organising team to manage the conferences in hybrid form for the first time. This is probably a new trend for academic conferences in the long term, not only because of the pandemic, but also considering the ability and feasibility of researchers to travel to the conference venue, a hybrid form can provide more possibilities for researchers from all around the world to learn, share, and inspire new knowledge. From the gained experience also benefited a recently accepted paper by NATURE Communications Journal “Trend of virtual and hybrid conferences since COVID-19 effectively mitigate climate change” co-authored by Professor Fengqi You, Roxanne E. and Michael J. Zak Professor at Cornell University, Ithaca, State New York, OS, his collaborators Yanqiu Tao, Debbie Steckel and Prof Jiří Klemeš, SPIL, FME, VUT Brno.



The RESHeat project aims to show how to save energy effectively

Renewable energy and green technologies are not totally new. But how to use them together so that it is an economical and therefore attractive solution? The international RESHeat project, in which experts from the SPIL laboratory at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering also participate, want to answer this question. There are also plans for two demonstration installations on public building complexes which face different climate conditions, in Palombara Sabina, Lazio, a commune in the Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy, and Krakow, the historical capital Poland. These  are the final development steps before the system is launched.

Heating and air conditioning consume more than half of the civic sector annual energy consumption. In EU households, heating and hot water alone, account for 79% of total final energy consumption. What’s worse, three-quarters of heating and cooling requirements are still powered by fossil fuel energy. Nevertheless, the transition to renewables is still not smooth, often because it discourages high initial investments and operating cost.

obr_panelyThe testing of smart solar collectors for RESHeat (project partner Czamara site in Poland)

„Not that existing technologies are not technologically good. The problem with current renewable energy sources, however, is that in most cases, they have to be subsidised. The goal of the RESHeat project is to develop the technology so that it is economically  advantageous. If we succeed, renewables will be green. That is why we are preparing two demonstration installations in different climatic conditions, where those interested could come and see them and learn everything about how the system works,” explains Professor Jiří Klemeš, head of the SPIL laboratory at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Brno University of Technology. The project focuses on residential units, so demonstration installations will be on residential buildings in Rome, where it is relatively warm, and in Krakow, which is to the north of us and considerably cooler. Experts will be able to compare the effectiveness of both systems in different latitudes.


Prof Jiří Klemeš, Head of the SPIL laboratory

It is the team of the Laboratory of Process Integration for Sustainability, abbreviated to SPIL, that, as the name suggests, is in charge of integrating all technologies so that they become a functional and efficient system. “In general, a lot of energy can be saved, and emissions avoided, but again it consumes some funding for operating cost. For example, almost all heat pumps run on electricity, which means that we save something but consume something again. We will run the research to integrate renewable sources so that the pump also takes energy from solar collectors,” explains Prof Klemeš. For solar collectors, they plan to use more efficient, so-called, smart units, which spin like sunflowers behind the sun to get the maximum energy input. This is very important, especially during the winter period, when the energy is much needed.

Civic Sector still has reserves in energy efficiency and related emissions

Researchers also want to solve another problem, and that is the fluctuating performance of renewables. “Fluctuations occur both in regular day-night cycles and with changes in weather or season. To make a real breakthrough in the use of renewables, we need to address energy storage. In our project, we want to use advanced underground energy storage. If you have soil with suitable properties, as, e.g. clay, heat can also be stored in the ground. It’s relatively cheap and safe, so also promising,” says Jiří Klemeš.


Scheme of integrated solution in RESHeat project

This time, the target group of the project is not industry alone, but cities, regions and other public entities as well. “It’s promising because industry has been dealing with energy savings for some time. Even advanced industrial plants can still save  some energy, but it’s not tens of percent. On the contrary, the area of civic amenities still has higher reserves, and further research is also needed here,” stated Jiri Klemeš.

The EU RESHeat project is planned for four years, ending in November 2024. In the first three years, researchers plan to work on process integration and gradually install and test parts of the system in sample residential units so that the last year of the project runs and data can be collected and the effectiveness of the solution verified. The project involves research institutions, cities and companies, that plan to subsequently introduce the technology or its components to the market. “These companies had to contribute 30% towards the development of the project, which is already a good example of the fact that they believe it will be useful. And of course, we believe that too. Energy savings will only work if it really spreads en masse” concludes Jiří Klemeš.

An important part of the RESHeat project is the demonstration and dissemination, where SPIL, FME, VUT has a remarkable record in smart media dissemination and organising worldwide conferences, e.g. as SPIL’20 attended by 443 participants from 49 countries and coming hybrid (both face2face and online) conference PRES’21 (31/10 – 3/11 2021, Brno, Czech Republic) , where already more than 1,650 authors from 59 countries submitted their research works.

EUThis project is supported by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 956255, project RESHeat (Renewable Energy System for Residential Building Heating and Electricity Production).


Project SPIL is funded by Czech Republic Operational Programme Research and Development, Education, Priority 1: Strengthening capacity for quality research Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/15_ 003/0000456).

The SPIL Research Team

The 3rd SPIL Conference: Energy, Water, Emission & Waste in Industry and Cities

The main goal of the SPIL Scientific Conference is to share new knowledge and implementation progress from all areas of Process Integration and Sustainability research. The presenters are world-leading researchers, who will provide unique insights into their team’s latest focuses and developments. 

Date: 21. – 22. 11. 2019

Place: Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Brno University of Technology

More information (including registration form) is available here. Read more about about the 2nd SPIL Conference here.

SPIL project, and its conference, is co-funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, via grant No. CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/15_003/0000456 of the “Operational Programme Research, Development and Education”, Priority 1: Strengthening capacity for quality research. More information here.