SERMER - Sensors for the Remote Monitoring of Experimental Reactors

The R&D activities within SERMER deal with the hardware of the viscosity sensor prototype, the readout, and the interpretation of the sensor signals with respect to the ongoing processes within the experiment to be monitored.

Short Description

The monitoring of experiments conducted on the International Space Station (ISS) requires the utilization of novel miniaturized sensors. By considering a pilot application, i.e. the synthesis of zeolite-structures under microgravity conditions, which has been investigated by an associated ESA consortium, a novel system enabling the monitoring of reactions in the liquid phase is devised and investigated.

Zeolites play an important technical role in sustainable industrial development. The structuring of zeolites involves self-organization processes within so-called Ordered Liquid Phases (OLPs) of nanoscopic precursor species. It was found that microgravity strongly favours the ordering and aggregation processes within the OLPs. Microgravity conditions thus offer a unique environment where these effects can be studied in detail.

The planned microgravity experiments are essential to gain information on the rheological parameters affecting the formation of zeolites. The ambition of the team of European scientists in the ESA-consortium is to generate the fundamental knowledge that will ultimately enable design and synthesis of "Zeolites on Demand" with the confidence of handling OLPs at will.

In the frame of the associated ASAP-project SERMER, miniaturized viscosity sensors enabling the monitoring of the zeolite synthesis process are considered in particular. The investigated sensors need to be capable of reliably monitoring crystallization processes involving nano-particles. Thus the suitability of the devices with respect to rhelogical measurements of complex liquids is a major issue in this research.

Furthermore, the technology needs to be developed such that it can withstand the harsh environment present (including extreme pH-values such that triple containment of the experimental reactor is required).

The results from SERMER will be applicable beyond the pilot application for further experiments aboard the ISS and for several industrial applications (such as in online process control).

Project Partners


Institute for Microelectronics and Microsensors, Johannes Kepler University Linz - Univ.Prof. Dr. Bernhard Jakoby

Major Partners

  • Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) - Prof. Dr. Christine Kirschhock
  • Institute for Sensor and Actuator Systems, Vienna University of Technology - Prof. Dr. Michiel Vellekoop
  • Department of Chemical Engineering, Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) - Prof. Dr. Jan Vermant

Contact Address

Institute for Microelectronics and Microsensors
Johannes Kepler University Linz
Univ.Prof. Dr. Bernhard Jakoby
Altenberger Strasse 69
A-4040 Linz
Tel.: +43 732 2468 9300