Monday, 12 February 2018

A Rising Star: Martin Rudolph

Dr. Martin Rudolph is a very worthy addition to our Rising Stars series. He has presented noteworthy papers at the past three MEI Flotation Conferences, where he has impressed us with his enthusiasm and professionalism. For over two years he has been a very conscientious reviewer for Minerals Engineering papers, and it was an easy decision to appoint him as one of the six Assistant Editors for the new-look journal (posting of 22 January).
Martin Rudolph (right) receiving a best poster award at Flotation '17,
on behalf of two of his PhD students
Martin is 34 years old, and was born close to the city of Karl-Marx-Stadt (now Chemnitz) in the former German Democratic Republic. He is Head of the Processing Department at the Helmholtz Institute for Resource Technology (HIF) of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) a federal non-university research organization where he is also a principal investigator. He joined HIF in April 2012 shortly after it was founded as the national centre for resource technology research. He is also a lecturer at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg.
At Elfusa, Brazil, 2006
In 2003 Martin enrolled at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, the oldest mining academy in the world, in the diploma course in Process Engineering and would later specialise in Particle Technology after one year of mandatory military service with the medical corps.  As part of his studies, in 2006 he spent three months as an intern for mineral processing in Sao Joao da Boa Vista, Brazil with the company Elfusa. He then spent six months at the company Heidelberger Druckmaschinen in Heidelberg, Germany and studied particle adhesion effects, and was awarded by the company in 2007 for his work.
He finished his studies as a Dipl.-Ing. which is equivalent to an M.Sc,  his diploma thesis being with the Fraunhofer Institute of Nondestructive Testing on the dispersion of Detonation-synthesized Nanodiamonds (DNDs) in Aqueous Suspension for the synthesis of highly stable colloidal dispersion, which he achieved with a planetary ball mill. Although he meant to continue with Fraunhofer as a PhD student, in 2008 Prof. Urs Peuker from the University Karlsruhe and TU Clausthal was appointed to the TU Bergakademie Freiberg to lead the famous Institute of Mechanical Process Engineering and Mineral Processing, lead by Prof. Heinrich Schubert. Martin had developed a special interest in nanoparticle systems and interfacial phenomena and Prof. Peuker had a wonderful project which he was then working on. The project, funded by the German Research Foundation, offered Martin a lot freedom to develop his interest in interfaces and colloidal systems, and Urs Peuker became his PhD supervisor. His PhD on “Nanoparticle-Polymer-Composites the solution and spray drying process with an emphasis on colloidal interactions” was defended in December 2012.
Martin with Urs after he defended his thesis with the highest distinction “summa cum laude
Martin being pulled through the streets of Freiberg by his PhD supervisor Urs
Martin published and presented many papers as a PhD student and received the first prize in the International Young Scientist Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia at the Gornyi Institute (Mining Institute) in April 2012, in the section of nanotechnologies.
Originally he and his wife had intended to spend some time in the US as Post-Docs but their son was born in 2011 and he took the offer from his supervisor to become one of the first engineers in the newly founded HIF.
I asked Martin what had inspired him to take up a career in mineral processing and he said that at first he was interested in the process of flotation because of his experience in interfacial phenomena and using modern interface analytical tools such as atomic force microscopy or inverse gas chromatography, this being the main focus of the processing department of the newly founded HIF, which he built up with the help of a few students. He discovered how important Freiberg had been in mineral processing, and especially in flotation, with Prof. Heinrich Schubert at TU Bergakademie Freiberg and Dr. Hans Joachim Schulze at the Freiberg Mineral Research Institut, the Forschungs-Institut Aufbereitungstechnik (FIA) of the East German Academy of Sciences, later with the Max Planck Foundation. He found that the processing issues for the beneficiation of fine particles and especially the complex mineral systems was so much more fascinating than the “clean” synthetic nanoparticle systems he had been dealing with before. He was also pleased to stumble into a truly interdisciplinary team of geologists, mathematicians, metallurgists, biologists, physicists and chemists at HIF and the HZDR, opening many opportunities to develop innovative ideas and to thoroughly study the micro-processes in mineral processing. Even more, he realised how important and critical their work is when he began to appreciate the societal need for understanding metalliferous resources, especially with our complex high tech products these days. With that understanding he has a strong motivation to produce a  positive impact on the world through improving technology and at the same time dealing with unresolved questions of science, such as hydrophobic interactions.
In his early days as a mineral processing scientist he initiated a fruitful dialogue at the IMPC 2012 in New Delhi between Prof. Jan Miller, of the University of Utah, and Prof. Roe-Hoan Yoon, of Virginia Tech, when Jan was presenting molecular dynamic results and a gap between a hydrophobic surface and condensed water, which ended with several people in the audience openly philosophising about the nature of hydrophobic interactions, so crucial in flotation and so poorly understood. Later he continued such discussion with Roe-Hoan, who was visiting Freiberg in 2013. The next highlight was his very first MEI flotation conference, Flotation '13 in Cape Town, where "I fell in love with a wonderful mineral processing community which I more and more got into in the following years".
In April 2016 the HIF finally moved to the newly renovated building on the ground of the former FIA with "perfect laboratories and wonderful infrastructure". Martin's group has grown to two technical assistants and ten PhD students and they are currently seeking a PostDoc and another technical assistant to run the MLA and QEMSCAN analyses in mineral processing.
With Particle Technology students, 2008
Last year the group started a bioflotation project together with AMTC in Santiago Chile (Willy Kracht’s group) that created much public interest. Furthermore they have just completed their EU Horizon 2020 project OptimOre coordinated by UPC in Spain together with colleagues from Spain, the UK, Sweden and Freiberg where they have had the chance to study interesting tungsten and tantalum ores and also perform industrial tests with a mine and concentrator in Austria. In November a fundamental project started on the development of a new cell concept for the multi parameter fractionation (size, shape and wettability) of ultrafine synthetic and natural particles (below 10 ┬Ám) combining intensified turbulent flotation and foam fractionation.
The highlight of last year was a two month visiting scholarship with his family in Perth, Australia, where his wife Julia Walther (PhD in biomedical engineering) stayed at the University of Western Australia and Martin was at the Chemical Engineering Department of Curtin University, where he was able to study and model fundamental effects of the dynamic adsorption of special frother molecules and the influence of kosmotropic and chaotropic salts. He  also took the opportunity to visit Western Australia’s mining school in Kalgoorlie and the fascinating Superpit mine there.
With his family in Perth, 2017
I asked him what were his plans for the near future and his aspirations for the long term, and his near future plan is to write his second dissertation to be able to become a professor and to further develop the expertise of his group and the HIF.
Outside his work, Martin is very much a family man, spending his time outside work with his wife Julia and their six year old son and three year old daughter. He says "my family means a lot to me and having kids is by far the most important “project” of my life. In the summertime we keep a garden (community garden) with a nice cottage in the city forest of Dresden. For my personal pleasure I go running and participate in running events typically on the 10K or half marathon distance but in 2009 I successfully finished a full marathon (time: 03:18:30). Further interests of mine are photography, travelling the world (most memorably was three weeks through Iceland with my wife) and music, with a broad taste from singer/songwriter stuff to punk, hardcore and metal, regularly attending shows in small venues, singing along, dancing heavily and sweating at the end!"
Completing a half marathon in Dresden, 2017
Martin Rudolph is obviously a highly motivated scientist, who has his life-style priorities sorted out, and who I am sure we will hear much more of in the future. He is a true "Rising Star".
#Twitter @barrywills

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Martin. My best wishes to you for a bright future and I hope you would contribute significantly for the future of new technologies in Mineral Processing.
    Barry, well done in encouraging youngsters.
    Good Days to better and brighter Mineral Processing.


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