Jan Van Herle
Fields of expertise
Candidacy School Assembly / Faculty CouncilSince 2008 I actively participate in the EPFL community. I was elected for 3 mandates at STI Faculty (2008-2012, 2014-2016) and 4 mandates at the School Assembly (2008-2016), of which 3 (2010-2016) as president. I quit the 2 instances in 2016 to take over the presidency of the Personnel Section of Executive Staff (ACC), i.e. professors/MERs/scientists/admin&tech people in leading positions, in a engagement continuity in favor of staff. The salary increase of 0.6% in 2018 for all ETH Domain collaborators (7 MCHF) was for a decisive part due to the action of our Personnel representation Section ACC-Switzerland in autumn 2017 during its salary negociations with the ETH Board (=the supreme strategic decision body which manages the annual 2.5 billions CHF of taxpayer's contribution, 666 MCHF of which go to EPFL, 1.25 billion to ETHZ, and the rest to the research Institutes PSI-Empa-WSL-EAWAG). The action lead into Parliament against ETH Domain cuts also helped recovering 13 MCHF to EPFL's 2018 budget.
Through these mandates I gained an understanding of the mechanisms and decision paths both at EPFL and the governing ETH Board. Through this experience I try to contribute constructively where I can.
One of these mechanisms, and one of the reasons why I represent my candidacy, is that of the designation of the ETH Board Delegate of the 2 School Assemblies (Lausanne and Zürich). Our campus is unaware that this position represents 1 from the 11 permanent Council Members in the supreme ETH Board, and 1 out of only 4 ETH-internal members (together with EPFL President Prof Vetterli, with ETHZ President Prof Guzzella and with PSI Director Prof Mesot; the other 7 Members of the Board being 'external', nominated in rotation from the Swiss economic/industrial/financial tissue). The campus is equally unaware of the way how the position is designated. It is the only bottom-up position in the ETH Board, in other words the only one that represents the 'basis', the actual population of the EPFL and ETHZ Campuses (30'000 people). It's designation is solely based on an internal document and on a 'behind closed doors' procedure far from being transparent and democratic, contrasting with elementary principles that found the School Assembly. In reality, a handful of people, 2 teachers, 2 scientists, 2 administrators and 2 students decide in secrecy whom to designate as 'School Assemblies Delegate' for 4 years in the ETH Board decision organ managing 10 billions of tax money in this period. This restrictive and fallacious procedure has to be changed. Whereas it should be occupied in rotation every 4 years by someone elected transparently and democratically from the base, it has in its 16 years of existence ping-ponged between 2 people one of which managed to stay on for 10 consecutive years bypassing the entire procedure. The position will have an active role (evaluation of candidates and voting right) in the election of the next ETHZ President; in the same way, the Delegate played a role in the election of the last EPFL President in 2016, among others in the elimination of candidates. The position and its designation procedure are totally unknown and underestimated. As the document has to be revised in 2019, to modify this matter of fact is one of my objectives.
For all other subjects, I always apply the same guiding principles: common sense, ethics, confidence, transparency, freedom of speech, collegiality, support. Obviously this also applies to my candidacy to the STI Faculty council.Thank you kindly for reading me and participating.
MissionResearch, teaching & training and technology transfer in fuel cells and related fields (separation membranes, catalysis, fuel chemistry), in particular high temperature solid oxide fuel cells, including their reverse operation as co-electrolysers of steam and CO2. This domain is highly pluridisciplinary, combining mechanical, chemical and materials science engineering, which is reflected in both research and teaching activities. This technology is among the most efficient, both to convert fuels (fossils or renewables) in electricity and heat, or the reverse, store electricity as fuel (H2, CH4). We have established the world record in our lab to convert CH4 in dc current in our fuel cells (75% efficiency). Moreover we electrolyse steam into hydrogen with 100% efficiency, better than classical water electrolysis (<70%).
Current workEU Projects (Joint Technology Initiative on Fuel Cells & Hydrogen): 7 ongoing projects in 2018 on Fuel Cells and Electrolysis
SCCER on Biomass: use fo biogas in fuel cells.
SNF: use of environmental electron microscopy for live observation of our materials under operating conditions.
Financing by Canton de VAUD for design and demonstration of an advanced fuel cell system of 6 kW in collaboration with HTceramix.
BiographyBorn in Antwerp, Belgium. In Switzerland since 1983. Became Swiss citizen in 2004 out of conviction of principles of democracy and bottom-up participation. No double nationality. Village Council Member for 2 five-year mandates in 2006-2016.
1987 : Chemist from Basel University (CH).
1988 : Post-graduate IT diploma from Basel Engineering School.
1989 : Industry internship ABB Baden (CH).
1990-1993 : PhD Thesis EPFL, on Solid Oxide Fuel Cell cathode reaction mechanisms.
1994-1995 : Japanese Postdoctoral Fellowship in Tsukuba, Japan, on ceramic powders.
1995-2000 : Researcher at EPFL, Dpt. Chemistry : project responsible in PPM2 (materials), FP4-BriteEuram, NEDO (Japan), Swiss Gas Union (CH, oxygen membranes).
1998-2000 : Masters in Energy Technology, EPFL.
2000 : Cofounder of HTceramix SA (EPFL spin-off), now based in Yverdon (14 employees). Taken over by SOLIDpower in 2007, now 250 employees with 70 MCHF raised.
2000 : 1st Assistant and lecturer at LENI (STI-IGM) : fuel cell group responsible, projects on biogas (Federal Energy Office), woodgas (CCEM), fuel cell stacking (CTI, FP6, FNS), ceramic separation membranes (COST, FNS), microtubes (STI Seed), stability/lifetime/reliability in fuel cells (Electricité de France, swisselectric research). Currently 4 Ph D theses ongoing, 14 theses concluded, of which 5 colateral with SB and IMX. M.E.R. since Nov 2008.
Total funding raised so far >18 MCHF (50% as main applicant; 30% outside CH; 20% industry).
Scientific output : >135 peer-reviewed publications, >120 conference papers, 40 invited presentations (8 keynotes), >70 granted proposals.
Fluent in 5 languages (Dutch, French, German ( Swiss-german), English, Spanish).
OutputJournal publications 125
Conference publications 115
Funded project proposals 72
Oral presentations 120 (8 keynotes, 45 invited talks)
Funding raised 18.0 MCHF
(43% outside Switzerland and 16% from Industry)
Presently teaching 3 bachelor and 8 master credits
(thermodynamics, renewable energy, fuel cells, engines, electrochemistry).
PhD theses 16 completed, 4 ongoing
Master theses 40
Semester projects 70
Teaching & PhD
Materials Science and Engineering