New professorship for Large Engines Research at Graz University of Technology

As Professor for "High-performance Large Engine Systems", Nicole Wermuth is researching sustainable fuels, emission reduction and higher efficiencies for the green transformation of large engines.

Elf Personen stehen nebeneinander und halten ein längliches Transparent in den Händen.

Die Professur wird zunächst für dreieinhalb Jahre von den Partnern LEC, INNIO Jenbacher, AVL List, Bosch, Miba Gleitlager Austria, KS Engineers und Geislinger finanziert. Danach liegt die Finanzierung bei der TU Graz. Bildquelle: Jorj Konstantinov - LEC/TU Graz

Eine Frau schaut in die Kamera und lächelt.

Nicole Wermuth, Professorin für "High-performance Large Engine Systems" am Institut für Thermodynamik und nachhaltige Antriebssysteme der TU Graz. Bildquelle: Jorj Konstantinov - LEC/TU Graz

Large engines are essential for the global transport and energy sector, powering container ships, locomotives, decentralised power plants and heavy construction machinery. In many areas, battery-powered electric engines are not feasible, which is why the further development of large combustion engines is a key factor for meeting climate protection targets: through greater efficiency, but above all by using new, climate-neutral fuels. In order to strengthen research and the training of specialists in this field, Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), the Large Engines Competence Center (LEC) and companies from the large engines industry have established the new professorship "High-performance Large Engine Systems" and have recruited the proven expert Nicole Wermuth for this position. The professorship is based at the Institute of Thermodynamics and Sustainable Propulsion Systems at TU Graz and will initially be financed for three and a half years by the partners LEC, INNIO Jenbacher, AVL List, Bosch, Miba Gleitlager Austria, KS Engineers and Geislinger. After that, the funding will be provided by TU Graz.

Strengthening basic research

“Nicole Wermuth is the ideal choice for this professorship. Graz University of Technology is thus further expanding its expertise in the field of sustainable energy systems. Climate protection and large engines do not contradict each other. On the contrary: In many areas - in particular for compensating for fluctuating electricity production from renewable sources - they will be indispensable for achieving climate neutrality," says TU Graz Rector Horst Bischof. "I would like to thank our corporate partners for funding this professorship initially. This cooperation enables us to significantly strengthen basic research in this important field.”

Methanol, ammonia and hydrogen as sustainable fuels

Nicole Wermuth will continue to drive forward research into large engines at TU Graz – covering topics like new fuels, optimising combustion processes and the use of new materials. "Methanol, ammonia and hydrogen are the key to operating large engines in a carbon-neutral way," says Nicole Wermuth. "However, there is still a lot of research to be done, as the processes in the combustion of these new fuels are not yet fully understood in detail." New findings should improve the efficiency of large green engines and minimise their emissions. Another key aspect of the professorship will be close collaboration with the LEC and its scientific development. Nicole Wermuth took over the scientific directorship of the centre at the beginning of June 2024.

Material durability will also be an important field of research. "Ammonia in particular is highly corrosive and there is still no long-term experience of material compatibility," explains Andreas Wimmer, Professor at the Institute of Thermodynamics and Sustainable Propulsion Systems and long-standing managing director and co-founder of the LEC. "Modifications will therefore be necessary, but we are confident that we will be able to develop good solutions in this respect." Andreas Wimmer played a key role in encouraging the corporate partners to fund the professorship ahead of schedule.

About Nicole Wermuth:
After completing her doctorate at Braunschweig University of Technology, Nicole Wermuth worked as a postdoc at the University of Michigan. In 2006, she joined the engine development department of General Motors in Warren, Michigan. From 2011 to 2018, she developed large engines for power generation at General Electrics in Garching near Munich before joining the LEC in Graz. At the LEC, she led an EU project on hydrogen and methanol-based marine propulsion systems and most recently headed the Combustion & Fuels research area for four years.

This research is anchored in the Field of Expertise "Sustainable Systems", one of five strategic foci of TU Graz.

Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing.
TU Graz | Institute of Thermodynamics and Sustainable Propulsion Systems
Phone: +43 316 873 30087