It’s great to be an active part of this long tradition
6/3/2024 Insights Interview

It’s great to be an active part of this long tradition

PARTEC is one of the largest international scientific congresses dealing with all aspects of particle and powder technology. As the new congress chair, Lutz Mädler is in charge of the event’s concept. In this interview, he gives an outlook on what participants can expect when the congress enters its next round in September 2025.

Lutz Mädler with Ljuba Woppowa and Arno Kwade at PARTEC 2023 from left: Dr. Ljuba Woppowa (VDI-GVC e.V.), Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Lutz Mädler (Chair PARTEC 2025), Prof. Dr.-Ing. Arno Kwade (Chair PARTEC 2023)

Mr. Mädler, do you remember your first PARTEC?

PARTEC has a long tradition – in general and for me as well. I attended for the first time in 1998 – back then as a doctoral student. That was a fascinating event for me. Back then, I only saw a small part of the large PARTEC universe. The following 25 years have broadened the perspective: at PARTEC 2023, I was able to lead some sessions myself. In all these years, I have attended PARTEC regularly, including during my time in the US and in Switzerland. Every participation is a kind of homecoming.

Do other events have a similar significance for you?

Some topics are also covered at other events for chemical engineering. After all, Germany is a pioneer in particle technology. But this focus on particles is very rare. At the same time, covering all areas of particle technology is fascinating. This also brings me into contact with sub-disciplines that I don’t work in myself. You always discover similar problems and similar solutions that you can learn from.
In my opinion, the combination of trade fair and congress is unique and leads to many reciprocal visits. Buyers come to PARTEC and listen to presentations. Congress participants use the short distances to talk directly with their industry partners about what they have heard. So if you ever ask yourself during a presentation, “What are we actually doing here?”, you simply walk over to the trade fair and find out again.

How was the concept for PARTEC 2025 developed?

The concepts are developed and brought together by the scientific advisory board. As Chairman, I have the opportunity to set priorities, but PARTEC is never done alone. I am happy to have a great team. While the chair changes with every PARTEC, the VDI and NürnbergMesse create continuity – that’s also important. For the concept for 2025, we paid particular attention to which topics were very popular at the last PARTEC – that was recycling, for example.

What recycling options are there in the field of particle technology?

One current example is batteries, for which politicians are now also formulating recycling targets. This is important, especially for the economic efficiency of the processes. I generally see a strong dynamic in the research and development of recycling concepts, for example at the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, where teams are working on the recycling of slag. These contain many valuable elements such as tantalum and cobalt, but they are highly dispersed. Concentrating and separating, sorting and purifying – all of this is particle technology.

Recycling is an important aspect of sustainability. How can particle technology become more sustainable?

In addition to recycling, the optimization of resource efficiency in particular offers potential. Particle technology plays a particularly important role here because it has an impact on a wide range of industries: Chemicals and medicine, food production and 3D printing or even filtration and general process engineering. The energy efficiency of processes also plays an ongoing role in improving sustainability.

Does artificial intelligence also come into play in all these processes?

Artificial intelligence can help to recognize things that are too complex for humans. In the field of particle technology, the focus is currently on machine learning and optical recognition systems. Suddenly we can detect all particles in heterogeneous material at once, and in some cases sort them directly. This allows processes to be accelerated and automated. Several presentations at PARTEC 2025 will focus on how automation in particle technology is supported by machine learning. I myself am curious to see what developments we will see in the meantime.

You are Director of Process Engineering at the Leibniz Institute for Materials-oriented Technologies (IWT). What significance does this role have for your function at PARTEC?

The Leibniz-IWT is an exciting institute because we combine three different fields under one roof and work cooperatively: Materials Engineering, Production Engineering and Process Engineering. This joint approach to all disciplines is similar to the perspective offered by PARTEC.

Could you have imagined in 1998 that you would one day chair this event?

It’s great to be an active part of this long tradition. But I couldn’t have imagined back in 1998 that I would one day open PARTEC. Ultimately, however, it’s not about me, but about making a contribution to a community that is close to my heart, is innovative and always manages to convey very complex topics in an understandable way. It simply never gets boring.


Marius Schaub

Marius Schaub