Faculty II - Mathematics and Natural Sciences


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Faculty II mourns the passing of Professor Dr. Peter Hugo (1930 - 2022)

The Technical University of Berlin mourns the loss of Professor Dr. Peter Hugo, who researched and taught at her institute for chemistry and has received international recognition for his diverse contributions to technical chemistry.

Peter Hugo was born in Hamburg in 1930 into a Hanseatic merchant family. He grew up in his hometown and studied physics there from 1950. He completed his diploma and doctoral thesis with Prof. Ewald Wicke at the Institute for Physical Chemistry. In 1960 he received his doctorate there with his dissertation on the catalytic deuterium exchange between hydrogen and water vapor on porous platinum catalysts. In the same year, he followed his mentor to the Institute for Physical Chemistry at the University of Münster as senior assistant and habilitand. With investigations into transport influences in catalytic reactions, multi-component gas diffusion in porous media and stability considerations in exothermic and autocatalytic reactions, he completed his habilitation thesis entitled "Limit cycle oscillations of temperature and conversion in the flow gas cycle". This pioneering work was recognized by the award of the DECHEMA Prize in 1968. From 1969 to 1973 he returned to Hamburg as a senior chemist in the DEOGRANDEL company.

In 1973, the TU Berlin appointed him to the professorship for technical chemistry as successor to Prof. Kölbel. In his working group, he established several research areas closely related to industrial processes. This included the investigation of the influence of the pore structure on the diffusive gas transport in catalysts, the kinetics of exothermic liquid-phase reactions in the technically relevant concentration range and the use of thermokinetic measurement methods. This resulted in important fundamentals for the safety assessment of chemical reactors, which is a central step in the design when scale-up of industrial processes. He was the founder and for many years head of the DECHEMA working committee "Reaction engineering for difficult safety-related processes", in which representatives from industry and science analyzed the state of knowledge and converted it into technical regulations that are still used today.

Even before the term digitization was coined, computers moved into Peter Hugo's laboratories to significantly accelerate the acquisition and evaluation of measurement data and bring it to a new level of precision. The exact mathematical description of the overall process and the fundamental individual phenomena also played a central role in his most recent area of work, preparative chromatography on a technical scale.

The promotion of young scientists was an important concern for Peter Hugo. He led several employees to habilitation and prepared them for a successful academic career.

Even after his retirement in 1996, Peter Hugo remained closely connected to the TU and his successor's working group for many years. Several times a week he came to the institute (mostly by bike) to participate in the research and the group's events, including field trips and Christmas parties. He regularly made valuable contributions to discussions of research results and their publications. In conversations and discussions, he always impressed with his clear and pragmatic, just Hanseatic way. He published his last scientific work at the age of 86 after he had managed to solve a long-standing open problem, namely the Semenow criterion to expand the inclusion of the concentration dependence of the reaction rate.

The Institute for Chemistry at the Technical University of Berlin will honor the memory of Professor Hugo as an academic teacher and important scientist. Our thoughts are with his family.

© Peter Hugo