Author:
Kaspar Koolmeister

In January, the Institute of Chemistry welcomes a new professor of electrochemistry – Jaak Nerut  

Jaak Nerut's long and successful career at the Institute of Chemistry has provided a solid foundation for his future duties as a professor. He has been involved in materials research and in the assembly and use of fuel cells, but Nerut also has extensive experience in supervising doctoral students and a substantial teaching background. He has delivered lectures on fundamental electrochemistry, electrochemical kinetics, and physical chemistry. 

Jaak Nerut first graduated from the University of Tartu with a degree in chemistry in 2002. For his master's and doctoral studies, he investigated the principles of charge transfer on solid electrodes. He defended his doctoral thesis titled "Reduction of Hexacyanoferrate(III) Anion on Cadmium (0001) Single Crystal Electrode" in the field of physical and electrochemistry at the University of Tartu in 2007. Nerut has worked at the Institute of Chemistry of the University of Tartu since 2002. He became Senior Researcher (Associate Professor) in Physical and Electrochemistry in 2019. 

On October 24 2023, the Senate of the University of Tartu appointed Jaak Nerut to the position of Professor of Electrochemistry.

Image
Jaak Nerut

Jaak Nerut views the world through the lens of material structure in his research. The crystal lattice of table salt is depicted in the foreground. (Photo: Viivi Järve, 03.12.2020) 

Nerut's main research area focuses on low-temperature fuel cells and electrolysers. For the past 15 years, he has primarily studied the reduction of oxygen on catalysts in fuel cells. His research group's goal has been identifying the role of the carbon support in platinum-based catalysts. Concurrently, Nerut has been involved in the development of anode catalysts based on rare earth metals for direct methanol fuel cells, the development of bioelectrochemical systems for nitrate removal from water, the application of the absolute pH scale in solvent mixtures, and the development and testing of oxygen sensors. 

In 2010, Jaak Nerut established a research group for exploring proton-conducting membrane fuel cells. By now, the group has 16 members. Nerut has led several scientific research projects, ranging from material studies to the assembly and application of fuel cells in Auve Tech's self-driving car. In collaboration with Stargate Hydrogen Solutions, Nerut is working on two projects to develop and characterise precious metal-free electrodes for alkaline electrolysers. 

Jaak Nerut is a member of the International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE). Under his supervision, six doctoral theses have been successfully defended. He has organised chemistry olympiads and subject competitions in Estonia, conducted continuing education courses for pupils and chemistry teachers, and participated in developing and administering state examinations in chemistry. 

"I believe that in Estonia as well as worldwide, it is important in electricity production to switch to hydrogen-based energy and significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels, such as oil shale," says Jaak Nerut. 

Congratulations, Professor Jaak Nerut! We are looking forward to your inaugural lecture on 24 September. 

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