General management

Thomas Buergler


+43 732 6989 75607

Thomas Buergler is the CEO of K1-MET. He studied metallurgy at the Montanuniversität Leoben. Thomas has 25 years of experience as project manager and research leader in Iron and Steel metallurgy and processes. He is responsible for national environmental and energy aspects in the field of metallurgy and for cooperations in international research and investment projects. Coming  from a mechanical engineering and metallurgical education, Thomas is also lector for process technology at Leoben University and material technology at the Secondary Technical College in Linz.

Johannes Schenk


+43 3842 402 2281

Johannes Schenk is the CSO of K1-MET. He studied process engineering at Graz University of Technology (PhD degree in 1989). From 1990 to 2008 he was employed at Siemens VAI Metals Technologies (former Voest Alpine Industrieanlagenbau) in the technology field of ironmaking. He had there the positions of general manager and vice president for research and development of new reduction technologies (FINEX®, COREX®, FINMET®). Since 2008 Johannes is full professor at the Montanuniversität Leoben at the Chair of Ferrous Metallurgy (Head of Chair). He is member of national and international committees and published as author and co-author numerous papers in journals and conference proceedings. Schenk is is co-inventor of more than 30 patent families.

Gerold Huemer

Authorised Representative

+43 732 6989 75607

Gerold Huemer is the authorised representative of K1-MET. Working for more than 15 years at several financial departments of one of the leading iron and steel processing companies Gerold has gained solid experience in financial management within the branch. Further building on his international contracting experience Gerold stayed for about a year in Texas to support an advanced FDI-Project of his previous employer. Gerold holds a master degree in business economics.


Anja Lehninger

Secretariat Linz

+43 732 6989 75607

Anja Lehninger is the secretary and assistant to the CEO and CFO. She receives visitors and is the first point of contact in administrative and organisational matters. Anja enjoys the contact with people and has always an open ear for her fellow human beings.

Silvia Freudenthaler

Secretariat Linz

+43 732 6989 75686

Silvia Freudenthaler is secretary and assistant to the CEO and CFO. She receives visitors and is the first point of contact in administrative and organisational matters.

Carmen Grandl

Secretariat Leoben

+43 3842 402 2281

Carmen Grandl is the secretary and contact person for the Leoben office.

You can reach her from Monday to Wednesday from 7.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. and on Thursday from 7.00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m.

Area management

Johannes Rieger

Area Manager

+43 3842 402 2280

Johannes Rieger leads project activities in Research Area 1 Resources and Recycling (process development, characterization and utilization of raw materials and residuals in iron and steel industry). He studied at the Montanuniversität Leoben whereas his university education is based on process technology with focus on industrial environmental protection. He has 8 years experience in working within the COMET K1-MET programme (within the first 4 years he wrote his PhD thesis concerning the pollutant formation during thermal Blast Furnace Gas utilization). Furthermore he was also assistant of the prior Research Area 1 management during the last K1-MET funding period (2011 to 2015).

Irmela Kofler

Area Manager

+43 732 6989 75627

Irmela Kofler leads projects in Research Area 2 on High Temperature Metallurgy (blast furnace, converter, ESR,…) and Area 3 on Processing and Energy Performance (continuous casting, energy recovery, …). After her technical chemistry degree at the Graz University of Technology with focus on process engineering she did her PhD in synthetic biofuels. Her experience in metallurgical and energy recovery topics she got during developing a new process line for primary converter dedusting, including a heat recovery unit and a filter unit.

Bernhard König

Area Manager

+43 732 6989 75624

Bernhard König manages projects within research Area 4 Modelling and Simulation. He has several years of experience in the field of fluid mechanics, data analysis, and experimental design and validation. Bernhard optains his PhD in the field of Mechatronics at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, related to multiphase flows. He is experienced with Open-Source software, measurement techniques, as well as several programming languages. Furthermore, Bernhard is responsible for our IT-structure and software development strategy.

Project staff

Sanaz Abbasi

Researcher in Area 4

+43 732-2468-6480

Sanaz Abbasi is a PhD student at Johannes Kepler University Linz and works in Area 4. The focus of her research is on fast simulations of turbulent, industrial-scale flows by means of the Recurrence CFD (rCFD) method, which has been introduced for flows with recurring patterns. During the development of this method, Sanaz works on the establishment of its basic functionality and its application for complex physics. The final goal is an increased efficiency of the rCFD method.

Ludwig Birklbauer

Researcher within Project 1.3

+43 664 88 32 35 69

Ludwig Birklbauer is a researcher in project 1.3. He is working on the commissioning and optimization of a pilot plant for dry granulation of blast furnace slag and investigates potential applications of on-line analysis systems in order to achieve maximum efficiency of production processes. After an apprenticeship as an electrical engineering technician in voestalpine Stahl GmbH and subsequent work at voestalpine Grobblech GmbH, Ludwig graduated in the second educational path at the JKU Linz in Technical Physics. He has several years of experience in the repair, maintenance and optimization of industrial plants. In addition, he specialized in the field of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) during his master thesis.

Markus Bösenhofer

Researcher within Project 4.2

+43 15 88 01 16 62 51

Markus Bösenhofer is PhD student at the Vienna University of Technology and works in Research Area 4, Project 4.2. He focuses on the development of a CFD model to simulate the raceway zone of blast furnaces and the conversion of alternative reducing agents.

Elizaveta Cheremisina

Post-Doc within Area 2

+43 664 88 32 35 68

Elizaveta Cheremisina works as a researcher in Area 2. After her degree in Nonferrous Metallurgy in 2013 at the State Mining University of Saint-Petersburg (Russia), Elizaveta joined Montanuniversität Leoben where she completed a PhD study in Ferrous Metallurgy in 2016. During her study, she acquired industrial experience in Russia and Germany. Furthermore, she gained knowledge in the fields of slag metallurgy and heterogeneous process kinetics. After completing her work on Project 2.2, Elizaveta is currently working on several industrial projects investigating the formation of hexavalent chromium in steel slags as well as MgO dissolution kinetics, where she has also the function of the project manager.

Monika Draxler

Project Member Non-K projects

+43 3842 402 2283

Monika Draxler is working in the non-K area. She completed her studies in Industrial Environmental Protection with a focus on process engineering at the Montanuniversität Leoben. In her Master's thesis, she dealt with the sintering process and the associated emissions. In addition to her current non-K activities, which include the evaluation of research projects on low-carbon steel production, Monika supports the research work in Area 1.

Franz Edler

Researcher within Project 1.4

+43 3842 4025 821

Franz Edler is working on his PhD Thesis in Research Area 1, Project 1.4, on CFD modelling of combustion and particle kinetics. He finished his studies on chemical process engineering and environmental technology at TU Graz. During his studies he acquired knowledge on simulation of flue gas scrubbers in coal-fired power plants.

Paul Freudenthaler

Researcher in Area 4

+43 664 88 32 39 47

Paul Freudenthaler is a researcher in Area 4 in the field Sensor Systems and Analysis. He finished his Master in Mechatronics at the JKU Linz. Afterwards he gathered experience in circuit design and in the characterization on HF Transceivers. Furthermore he was able to gather insights in topics like embedded system design, various programming languages and generally in hardware design.

Marianne Haberbauer

Senior Researcher within Area 1

+43 732 6989 8554

Marianne Haberbauer is a researcher in Area 1. After completing her studies in food and biotechnology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, she completed the postgraduate course "Technical Environmental Protection". She has over 20 years experience as a project manager of national and international research projects. Her work focuses on recycling technology with special emphasis on metals and CO2. At K1-MET GmbH, she will also be responsible for the project management of a cross-border research project regarding the utilization of secondary raw materials. 

Anna Haider

Student researcher in the Non-K Area

Anna Haider currently studies the master programme Technical Physics at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz. She is employed at K1-MET as student researcher since September 2018 and supports the R&D activities.

Christian Hochenleuthner

Graduate Student within Project 3.1

+43 3842 402 3241

Christian is a staff member of Research Area 3. His tasks include the investigation and testing of mould powders and mould slags. Within Project 3.1 he is responsible for the service and maintance of the test facilties and high temperature furnaces, the implementation and analysis of experiments with the hot stage microscope and the determination of the crystallization behaviour of mould slags by using the "Hot Thermocouple Technique".

Gerhard Holzinger

Post-Doc Project 4.1 and 4.4

+43 732 6989 75657

Gerhard Holzinger is a researcher in Area 4. His work in Project 4.4 revolves around the removal of non-metallic inclusions in continuous casting operations.
He studied mechatronics at the JKU in Linz and finished his PhD in mechatronics on the topic of implementing a model in OpenFOAM for mineral flotation.
Gerhard has experience with Linux and open source software, in the course of his thesis he gained 4 years of experience in OpenFOAM.

Thomas Höfler

Researcher within Project 3.3

+43 1 58801 161 68

Thomas Höfler is PhD student at the Vienna University of Technology. In Project 3.3 he investigates the formation of steel-scale interfacial layers in hot strip production. He completed his degree in Technical Chemistry in 2015. Thomas specialised in Materials Engineering and wrote his MSc thesis on ferrous powder metallurgy.

Magdalena Jetzinger

Project member Non-K projects

+43 50304 15 2106

Magdalena Jetzinger completed her bachelor course in Technical Chemistry at the Johannes Kepler University Linz and her master degree in Technical Chemistry at the Vienna University of Technology. During her studies, she focused on high performance materials and wrote her master thesis on powder metallurgical steels. Magdalena is working in the non-K area of K1-MET. Within this work, she supports a leading steel producing company in the field of research and development. Her research work includes, among others, material characterization.

Damir Kahrimanovic

Post-Doc within Area 4

+43 732 6989 75659

Damir Kahrimanovic is a researcher in Area 4. He studied Mechatronics and completed his PhD at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz. During his ten-year research work on numerical simulations of multiphase flows he gained an extensive experience in the field, with special focus on Lagrangian modelling of particles. In addition to research, Damir currently gives lectures on the Design of process plants at the Mechanical Faculty in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

Birgit Kain-Bückner

Researcher within Project 1.1

+43 3842 402 6103

Birgit Kain-Bückner is a researcher in the Area 1, Project 1.1 on the mineralogy and petrology of iron ore sinter. She finished her studies in applied geoscience at the Montanuniversität Leoben. In 2012 she joined the K1-MET Project and worked as a researcher on the valuation and optimization of iron carriers in reduction processes. She develops a software package for the quantification of mineral phases with image processing.

Christoph Leitold

Researcher within Project 2.4

+43 3842 402 3211

Christoph Leitold is working on his PhD Thesis in Research Area 2, Project 2.4, on CFD simulation. He concentrates on the erosion taking place due to shear stress. He already finished his master degree on “Industrial Logistics” and will finish a second degree on “Industrial Environmental Pollution Prevention” shortly – both at Montanuniversität Leoben. During the two master studies Christoph worked in F1 for broadcasting live timing and statistic on side of race tracks worldwide in cooperation with the F1 teams and their supporters.

Valentin Mally

Graduate Student within Project 1.3

+43 3842 402 5829

Valentin Mally is working as researcher in Area 1, Project 1.3, He is studying metallurgy at the Montanuniversität Leoben. Within K1-MET, he is investigating the treatment of Basic Oxygen Furnace slag under reducing conditions. His main task is the development of the pilot plants InduRed and InduMelt, which are operated at the Chair of Thermal Processing Technology (Montanuniversität Leoben).

Irmtraud Marschall

Project Manager and Researcher within Projects 3.1 and 1.3

+43 3842 402 3231

Irmtraud Marschall ist a researcher for Project 1.3 and Project 3.1, whereas she is the leading project manager for Project 3.1. She studied Ceramics at the Montanuniversität Leoben. Since 2008, Irmtraud works within the COMET K1-MET programme. During this time, she gained experience concerning the investigation and development of mold powders and slags for the continuous casting process of steel. Her PhD thesis focused on the melting process of mold powders. Her current research activities include fundamentals for the generation of alternative mold powders as well as the investigation of slags and refractory materials, especially the tundish lining. 

Kevin Maurer

Laboratory Assistant Project 1.1

+43 664 8832 3651

Kevin Maurer works as laboratory technician for Project 1.1 in the technicum of voestalpine Stahl GmbH. He is responsible for experiments at the sinter pot test rig. In the course of this job, Kevin prepares the test runs by mixing the input materials for the sinter feed and afterwards, he performs the sintering tests. Furthermore, the follow-up processing (experiment analysis and secondary samples) are also a part of Kevin’s tasks. These sinter pot tests are required by the company and scientifc partners in Project 1.1.

Harald Mayrhofer

Project member within Area 2

+43 3842 402 2236

Harald Mayrhofer works as technician in Area 2 and is currently studying Metallurgy at the Montanuniversität Leoben. Within the COMET and Non-K area of K1-MET, he supports lab-scale trials on the dissolution behavior of Calcium and Magnesium oxide carriers in steel melt and steelmaking slags. Harald is significantly involved in the operation of a high-temperature vertical tube furnace at the Chair of Ferrous Metallurgy (Montanuniversität Leoben) and co-responsible for preparation and execution of experimental campaigns.

Julia Messics

Graduate Student within Area 1

+43 664 88 32 36 83

Julia Messics is part of the researcher team in Area 1. She is working on the development of sintering and blast furnance operation at voestalpine Stahl Donawitz. Her work focuses on the investigation of the technological background and the potential of the dehydration of coke breeze on the sinterplant, waste gas recirculation sintering, fluid level measurement at blast furnance via EMK as well as the engineering of a small scale injection facility for fluxes into the blast furnace. After some time in the media scene (television and radio) she currently finishes her study in Metallurgy at Montanuniversität Leoben beside her position in K1-MET.

Johannes Niel

PhD Student within Area 4

+43 1 588 162 261

Johannes Niel is working on his PhD thesis in Project 4.6. The focus of his research is to develope an equation orientated process modelling tool for integrated steelworks in the flexible software environment of gPROMS®. In 2017, Johannes finished his master’s degree in “Chemical and Process Engineering” with the focus on “Environment and Resources” at the TU Wien. 

Alexander Penz

Researcher within Area 3

+43 50304 15 8179

Alexander Penz finished his master degree in Metallurgy focused on ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy. During his bachelor and master thesis Alexander gained industrial experience in a leading steel producing company. The topic of his master thesis was slag control in secondary metallurgy and its influence on the casting possibility of particular steel grades.
The topic of casting possibility is in the focus of Alexander’s current research activities
(Area 3) with special attendance on secondary and tundish metallurgy .

Florian-Markus Penz

Researcher within Project 2.2

+43 3842 402 2244

Florian M. Penz is working on his PhD Thesis in Research Area 2, Project 2.2, on optimizing converter steelmaking. He concentrates on the investigation and modelling of melting- and dissolution behaviour of scrap, slag formers, and alloy materials in steel plant aggregates. He finished his studies on metallurgy with focus on iron and steel metallurgy at the Montanuniversität Leoben. During his master studies he gained industrial experiences during internships in Austria, Brasil, and Germany.

Dorothea Ploder

Project Manager within Non-K area

+43 664 88 32 3564

Dorothea Ploder is working as a researcher in the non-K area. She studied Chemistry (Bachelor) and Advanced Materials Science (Master) at the Technical University in Graz. In her job she deals with research projects on low-carbon steel production. Currently, she is a member of the LowCarbonFuture project team.

Werner Pollhammer

Researcher within Project 3.4 and 4.3

+43 3842 4025 821

Werner Pollhammer is working on his PhD thesis in Projects 3.4 and 4.3 on CFD simulation. He finished his master degrees on “Industrial Environmental Protection and Process Technology” in 2015 and “Industrial Energy Engineering” in 2014 at the Montanuniversitaet at Leoben. During his master studies he focused on plant technology and simulation. The focus of his master thesis was simulation of dust explosions using OpenFOAM.

Lukas Preuler

Researcher within Project 3.3

+43 3842 402 2237

Lukas Preuler holds a Master degree in metallurgy from the Montanuniversität Leoben. During his studies he acquired fundamental knowledge on various metallurgical processes with focus on iron and steelmaking and metal forming. Now Lukas works as researcher in Area 3 (Project 3.3) on Surface Oxidation in casting and steel processing.

Katharina Rechberger

Senior Project Manager, Non-K projects

+43 732 6989 4678

Katharina Rechberger finished her studies of Industrial Environmental Protection with focus on process engineering at the Montanuniversität Leoben. After 7 years in an international cement producing company as plant and process engineer, Katharina is now working on the development of metallurgical processes at K1-MET GmbH. One of her main tasks is the investigation of technologies for a reduction of CO2 emissions in the steel production.

Wolfgang Reiter

Graduate Student within Project 1.4

+43 3842 402 5824

Wolfgang Reiter is a researcher in Area 1Project 1.4. He finished his Bachelor programme in Metallurgy at the Montanuniversität Leoben. His current research work is focused on the further optimization and the operation of the Flash-Reactor pilot plant. In the course of his master thesis, Wolfgang investigates further possibilities for an external use of the Flash-Reactor slag. After finishing the master programme, Wolfgang will continue his research work within Project 1.4.

Selina Riedler

Researcher within Area 2

+43 664 8832 3565

Selina Riedler finished her studies in Mineral Resources Engineering with focus on “Building Materials and Ceramics” at the Montanuniversität Leoben. During her studies, she worked on the Chair of Ceramics and dealt with the subject area casting powder. The aim of her master theses was to proof the suitability of a High-Temperature Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope for the determination of invariant points. Her current research work in Area 2 is focused on the characterization and development of mold powders for the continuous casting process of steel.

Alexander Rimser

Senior Expert Ironmaking

+43 732 6989 6081

Alexander Rimser completed the Master's program Industrial Environmental Protection, Waste Disposal Technology and Recycling at the Montanuniversität Leoben, with a focus on metallurgical process engineering. The topic of the MSc thesis was granulation of blast furnace slag. Alexander then spent four years as a process engineer at the blast furnace at a leading Austrian steel company. His area of responsibility includes hydrogen plasma smelting reduction in project SuSteel (Area 3) and the exhaust gas purification using a hot gas cyclone (Area 1).

Amaia Sasiain Conde

Junior Project Manager Research Area 3

+43 732 6989 75623

Amaia Sasiain Conde works as researcher in Area 3. She studied Chemical Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering Bilbao in Spain specializing in Environmental Engineering. Her work wihin K1-MET is focused on the research for a minimization of CO2 emissions as well as the use of hydrogen as an alternative reducing agent within a steel mill. Amaia will provide her skills into the EU-project H2Future whereas she concentrates on the implementation of hydrogen within an integrated steel plant. 

Magdalena Schatzl

Post-Doc Research Area 4

+43 732 6989 2838

Magdalena Schatzl is a researcher in Area 4. She studied Technical Physics and received her PhD from the Johannes Kepler Universität Linz. Within K1-MET she is working on CFD simulations with OpenFoam. The second part of Magdalenas work is focused on data-visualization projects in collaboration with industrial partners.

Lukas Schmidt

Project Manager Non-K Area

+43 3842 402 2285

Lukas Schmidt studied Process Engineering at Graz University of Technology. Afterwards, he worked at Montanuniversität Leoben, Chair of Ferrous Metallurgy, as a research associate in a former K1-MET project on the utilization of ultra-fine ore in a smelting reduction process. His PhD-thesis focused on the reduction of fine iron ore in fluidized bed reactors. Within K1-MET, Lukas currently works as project manager in the EU project DESTINY for a development and demonstration of a microwave assisted firing process for cement, ceramic and steel industry. Furthermore, he supports the activities on the hydrogen plasma smelting reduction process development.  

Stefan Schroft

Researcher within Project 2.3

Stefan Schroft works as a researcher in Area 2, Project 2.3, at the Electro Slag Remelting (ESR) plant at the University of Applied Sciences - Austria, School of Engineering, where he already took part within his bachelor internship. In the course of his master thesis, he investigates the effect of several slag-systems on the ESR process and the final product with focus on modification of non-metallic inclusions. 

Axel Sormann

Senior Expert Iron & Steelmaking

+43 664 8832 2498

Axel Sormann has more than 30 years of experience in Iron and Steel metallurgy. After the study of metallurgy at the Montanuniversität Leoben he made his PhD in the field of Smelting Reduction of Iron Oxides by Hydrogen. After that there followed 2 years as an engineer in a steel plant and then 20 years in the R&D, 13 years of it as head of the metallurgical department. The last 3 years he was responsible for the R&D co-ordination and the Technology Management of a leading iron and steel processing company.

Andreas Spanlang

Researcher within Project 4.6

+43 732 6989 75682

Andreas Spanlang is working on his PhD thesis in Project 4.6 on the development of an equation oriented process modelling tool for integrated steelworks in the flexible software environment of gPROMS®. He finished his master's degree on "Chemical and Process Engineering" in 2015 at TU Vienna. During his master studies he focused on the development of the blast furnace process route model.

Sabine Spieß

Researcher in Area 1

+43 732 6989 5201

Sabine Spieß is working on her PhD thesis in Area 1 with the focus on metal recovery from secondary raw materials through a bioelectrochemical process. Sabine finished her master’s degree in Bio- and Environmental Technology at the University of Applied Sciences - Upper Austria (campus Wels). During her her master thesis, she dealt with the use of bioelectrochemical systems for various applications, such as CO2-reduction to methane..

Martin Stückelschweiger

Researcher within Project 2.4

+43 3842 402 3207

Martin Stückelschweiger is working on his PhD thesis in Research Area 2, Project 2.4, on fracture mechanical characterisation of carbon containing materials. His focus is to develop a setup for the tensile creep test and the wedge splitting test for non-oxidizing conditions. Martin finished his studies in “Mineral Resources Engineering” with focus on “Building Materials and Ceramics” at the Montanuniversität Leoben.

Sophie Thallner

Researcher within Area 1

+43 732 6989 8840

Sophie Thallner is a researcher in Area 1. She studied Biotechnology and Environmental Technology with a focus on Environmental Technology at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria (campus Wels). During her master thesis, she focused on bioleaching of waste fractions and was able to deepen her knowledge in further projects She is currently involved in the planning and implementation of bioleaching experiments for the recovery of valuable metals from ashes and slag. 

Maria Thumfart

Project Manager Project 4.5

+43 732 6989 75640

Maria Thumfart is a researcher in Area 4. Her work in Project 4.5 focuses on the development of realtime models of the steel flow in the continuous casting plant. In addition to her research work, she is the project manager of Project 4.5.
After obtaining her masters degree in mechatronics in 2008 she began her research in the field of metallurgical flows, gaining experience in the fields of experimental, analytical and numerical methods.

Stefan Tjaden

Project Member Project 1.2

Stefan Tjaden works as researcher in Area 1, Project 1.2 and is currently studiying at the Technische Universität Wien. Within K1-MET, he is member of the project team at the Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Bioscience Engineering and his work is focused on the development of a method to find suitable pulverized coals for the blast furnace process. Among others, Stefan executed a comprehensive literature survey regarding the basics of coal analysis, which represented the starting point for the design of a testing plant.

Alija Vila

Researcher within Project 4.1

+43 732 2468 6483

Alija Vila is a PhD student at Johannes Kepler Universität Linz and is working as a researcher in Project 4.1. The focus of his work is on modelling of interaction between cohesive particles and interstitial gas by means of CFD-DEM simulations. In the development of these interaction models two different flow regimes are of interest, namely dense gas-solid flows at low Mach numbers and dilute gas-solid flows at transonic Mach numbers. Correspondingly, numerical simulations are tied to application of die filling with cohesive powders, as well as cold spray technology.