In January Gunnar Nurk became a professor of high-temperature energy materials at the University of Tartu in the Institute of Chemistry

On September 29, 2023, the Senate of the University of Tartu appointed Gunnar Nurk as a professor of high-temperature energy materials. His extensive knowledge of electrochemistry, international work experience, and versatile involvement in various projects made him an highly rated expert in the field of high temperature energy materials.

Nurk graduated from the University of Tartu with a degree in chemistry in 1998. His master's thesis and doctoral dissertation, defended in 2003 at the Faculty of Physics and Chemistry of the University of Tartu, focused on the adsorption kinetics of organic compounds on bismuth single crystal electrodes, exploring the thermodynamic and kinetic parameters' dependence on the properties of adsorbed organic compounds and the structure of the bismuth surface. 

Gunnar Nurk juhendamas tudengeid tahkeoksiidsete kütuseelementide valmistamisel

Photo (private collection): Professor Gunnar Nurk in the laboratory of high-temperature energy materials. 

Gunnar Nurk has been working at the University of Tartu's Institute of Chemistry since 2001, starting as a researcher, moving to a senior researcher position in 2011, and serving as an associate professor of electrochemistry since 2021. His value as a professor is reflected in his international experiences. He has conducted research at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, worked as a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) from 2008 to 2010, and served as a postdoctoral researcher at the Paul Scherrer Institute in 2011. 

In addition to comprehensive electrochemical adsorption studies, Gunnar Nurk has actively participated in the development activities of carbon-based supercapacitors in the Tartu Technologies Ltd. The majority of Nurk's research revolves around the development of high-temperature fuel cells (HTFC), initially in collaboration with Elcogen AS, primarily focusing on cathodes. Over time, the scope of the research has significantly expanded, with the group's publications covering studies on the composition, structure, and electrochemical properties of HTFC anodes. 

In several works, Nurk has explored the interfacial properties between electrolytes and electrodes, created necessary chemical barrier layers for HTFCs, and optimized the structural properties of electrodes. An important research direction has emerged, focusing on the in-situ and operando chemical and electrochemical characterization and analysis of electrode materials operating in high-temperature systems, aiming to elucidate the fundamental reasons behind the properties of electrodes. 

Recently, special attention has been given to high-temperature electrolysis and the development of novel hydrogen electrode materials. In collaboration with H2Electro, materials have been developed, tested, and applied in medium-scale electrolyzer stacks. 

Nurk emphasizes that efficient and affordable energy conversion technologies are crucial for the widespread, CO2 emission-free implementation of solar and wind energy. He adds that the high-temperature energy materials research group strives to increase the performance and durability of such devices while reducing production costs. 

Gunnar Nurk has been involved in numerous research projects and has led various research projects ranging from personal grants to group grants. Currently, he is working on two projects focused on the development of high-temperature electrolyzer hydrogen electrodes. One project focuses on the search for novel electrode materials, while the other, in collaboration with H2Electro, aims to develop industrial technology for production of electrolyser electrodes. 

In addition, Gunnar Nurk leads the high-temperature energy materials research group at the "Sustainable Green Hydrogen and Energy Technology Excellence Center." Gunnar Nurk is a member of the International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE) and the Electrochemical Society (ECS), he has supervised five defended doctoral theses and several master's theses. He has developed and conducted lecture courses in ceramic materials technology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Congratulations, Professor Nurk!  

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