Research

According to the three-pillar principle of BOKU (combination of technology, natural sciences and economic, social and legal sciences) we develop innovative concepts, methods and procedures

- for planning and evaluation of waste prevention measures,
- to close natural and anthropogenic material cycles,
- for low-emission waste treatment and
- for the aftercare and monitoring of landfills and old deposits.

The global interdependence of the economy and material flows requires waste flows to be analysed in a comprehensive context and cross-national solutions to be found.

Our current research areas are:

Latest SCI publications

Latest Projects

Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-02-15 - 2021-11-14

When considering the occurrence of avoidable food waste along the entire value chain, it becomes apparent that there is great potential for avoidance, especially at the consumer level. The implementation of food waste prevention measures in households has so far proved difficult. The results of the last residual waste sorting analysis, for example, do not yet show any visible successes despite intensive measures (including an ORF focus on the topic). The reasons for the generation of food waste can be related to personal life situations and socio-demographic influencing factors as well as to attitudes, habits and knowledge. For these reasons, it is particularly difficult to develop appealing measures that will be taken up and implemented. The Natural History Museum in Vienna is currently showing a special exhibition on the topic of "Expiration Date - When Food Becomes Waste". Until May 2021, 6 halls have been dedicated to this topic and different concepts are used to draw attention to the issue. This unique opportunity is now to be used within the framework of this research project in order to learn more about the wishes and needs of visitors with regard to targeted information and awareness raising on the topic of food waste prevention and thus to be able to develop appealing measures and information for the future.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2020-11-01 - 2023-10-31

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) play a large role in the current discussion surrounding the energy transition to reduce the use of fossil fuels. The use of LIBs in diverse applications, such as electronics, e-mobility, or stationary storage systems, is expected to increase strongly. In the field of e-mobility, a strong increase in e-vehicles will lead to the availability of terawatt-hours of batteries that no longer meet the technical requirements for e-vehicles due to their wear and tear. When such first-life batteries (1stL-LIBs) are replaced, they can then be used in alternative applications (e.g. energy storage). Such second-use applications are gaining interest worldwide and play a decisive role with regard to the sustainability of LIBs. However, there is a decrease in performance during the first lifetime of LIBs, due to the fact that the 1stL-LIBs in e-vehicles are exposed to, for example, extreme operating temperatures, hundreds of partial cycles per year, as well as charging and discharging rates. Damage can cause LIBs to outgas, catch fire or even explode. This phenomenon is called thermal runaway. Little is currently known about the safety of second-use applications or the thermal runaway of 2ndL-LIBs. In the SafeLiBatt project, safety guidelines for 1stL- and 2ndL-LIBs will be elaborated using integrative methods for risk management. In laboratory tests, the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) and the French National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks (INERIS) are testing new and used LIBs (at cell level) for thermal runaway and analyzing the release of toxic gases and substances. One focus is placed on the different behavior of 1stL- and 2ndL-LIBs. The aim is to collect safety-relevant information to derive precautionary measures for first responders (fire brigade, rescue, police) in cases of emergencies. In addition, the Austrian project partners BOKU Vienna, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) and Brimatech Services GmbH will conduct an integrated risk analysis. A life cycle analysis (LCA) will quantify the environmental benefits, with particular regard for the extension of battery life. In addition, primary data on emissions during thermal runaways obtained from the laboratory tests will be integrated into the LCA to assess potential impacts on human health and the environment. Furthermore, the economic and social impacts of LIBs will be investigated, especially concerning general acceptance, as well as perceived drivers, opportunities and barriers of second-use applications. For this purpose, literature research, qualitative interviews with stakeholders of the LIB value network, and workshops will be conducted. With the help of participatory procedures, various aspects surrounding the topics of occupational safety, safe-by-design, and design-for-reuse can also be discussed. Finally, recommendations for action for the safe development and use of 1stL- and 2ndL-LIBs will be derived from the project results. In addition, the project results will be introduced into international and national standardization committees to standardize safety guidelines.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2020-10-01 - 2021-04-30

Austria must comply with an EU directive on the avoidance of plastic waste. This EU directive on single-use plastic stipulates that at least 77 percent of plastic beverage bottles, of which 1.6 billion are currently put into circulation in Austria every year, must be collected separately and also recycled by 2025 and at least 90 percent by 2029. Currently, the collection rate in Austria is still 70 percent. A deposit system would be the most efficient way to close the gap, according to the study "Possibilities for implementing the EU requirements regarding beverage containers, deposit systems and reusable packaging" published at the beginning of 2020. The convenient and accessible return option is seen as a relevant element of a modern one-way deposit system. The guiding principle for the return in most existing one-way deposit systems is "return at retail", i.e. the return by retailers. In addition to return at retail, there is also the possibility of return at decentralized return points. The objectives of the project include the evaluation of the effects of the introduction of a deposit system for beverage containers in Austria, firstly without the integration of waste material collection centers (as "baselilne variant") and secondly with the integration of Upper Austrian civic amenity sites (CAS) as return points for beverage containers (as "CAS variant"), whereby defined comparison criteria, possible external influences and design elements must be taken into account in the case of ASZ integration. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Supervised Theses and Dissertations