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HITTEC – from waste heat to electricity10 Dezember 2012
A “turbo” for solid oxide fuel cells

To convert waste heat from solid oxide fuel cells into electricity is the goal of the “HITTEC” project. Researchers from Empa, in a strategic partnership with Hexis AG, are developing a thermoelectric converter to make fuel cell systems more efficient, possibly generating an extra 10 per cent energy output. However, the first step is to develop suitable materials to meet a diverse range of requirements
EmpaNews 38 published19. November 2012
Focus: Solar energy supply

Solar modules made from silicon are too rigid for many applications – and they are often too expensive. Solar cells on flexible film are the solution, and are capable of generating power from sunlight much more cheaply. Empa is researching into the construction of such cells, and a start-up company is already trialling series production next door. Two types of cells are examinated: Inorganic solar cells – so called CIGS cells – on the one hand, which should be ready for market in a few years. On the other hand Empa does research on organic solar cells on the basis of dyes. With this technology, transparent solar cells become possible.

Textile pressure ulcer prevention15 November 2012
Improving quality of life for the bedridden

Immobile patients are in constant danger of developing pressure ulcers on the skin. Empa, Schoeller Medical and the Swiss Paraplegic Centre have worked together to develop a special sheet that is gentle on the skin and helps to make patients more comfortable.
A molecular glance on solar water splitting29 October 2012
The hunt for electron holes

Hydrogen production by solar water splitting in photoelectrochemical cells (PEC) has long been considered the holy grail of sustainable energy research. Iron oxide is a promising electrode material. An international team of researchers led by Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, have now gained in-depth insights into the electronic structure of an iron oxide electrode – while it was in operation. This opens up new possibilities for an affordable hydrogen production from solar energy.

International medical technology conference19 October 2012
Manikin and skeleton join the team at the World Medtech Forum

Around 3,200 visitors from all over Europe were in Lucerne from 25 to 27 September for the successful premiere of the "World Medtech Forum". Empa was represented by two special "employees" and more than 20 exhibits from the field of "Medtech & Advanced Therapeutics".

Tuning the surface to accomodate future neighbouring cells4 October 2012
Friendly implants

Cell biologists at Empa want to “tune” implants such that they can better carry out their tasks in the human body. The surface of the implant is the key to success. Together with the Fraunhofer Institute IFAM, the Empa team developed a method to manufacture implants with the required surface “from a single cast”.
New data on the biofuel ecobalance24 September 2012
Most biofuels are not “green”

First tops, then flops. That is one way of summing up the history of biofuels so far. A new study led by Empa gives an up-to-date picture of the ecobalance of various biofuels and their production processes. Only a few are overall more environmentally friendly than petrol.
VELUX FOUNDATION supports Empa research21. September 2012
Solar hydrogen thanks to artificial photosynthesis

All over the world the concept of artificial photosynthesis –the conversion of solar energy into a chemical energy storage medium such as hydrogen – is currently a hot research topic. The process involves the use of solar cells as well as so-called photoelectrochemical cells. Empa is also carrying out research in this field and was recently awarded funding to the tune of CHF 230,000 from the VELUX Foundation.
European elite support for Empa researcher5 September 2012
Young scientist brings in EU millions

The European Research Council (ERC) recently awarded its ERC Starting Grants for the fifth time. One of the recipients is a young Empa scientist, Maksym Kovalenko, who also holds a professorship at the ETH Zürich. He has been awarded around CHF 1.8 million to continue his research on nanocrystals in solids. This makes him a member of the elite group of eight very gifted young scientists and researchers at the ETH Zürich who will receive ERC funding this year, thereby enabling them to establish their own scientific teams.
Recognized expert on air pollution and environmental science3 September 2012
New Department Head for «Mobility, Energy and Environment»

On 1st September, 2012, Dr. Brigitte Buchmann, takes over as newly appointed head of Empa’s Mobility, Energy and Environment Department. At the same time she also assumes her new role as new Member of the Board of Directors of the institution. In both positions she follows in the footsteps of  Dr. Peter Hofer, who retired at the end of August.
All-rounder with broad experience in support services3 September 2012
Support Department has a new Head

On September 1st Dr. Urs Leemann took over from Roland Knechtle as the head of Empa’s Support Department. His professional experience provides the optimal background to manage this multifaceted group.
EU-Project with Empa participation trumps the competition30 August 2012
3.8 million Euros for the window of tomorrow

The “Winsmart” project convinced the EU experts. They judged the application for funding submitted by Empa researcher Matthias Koebel for the project – the development of "intelligent" windows for the buildings of tomorrow – as the best in its class. The eight participating partners from research and industry will receive more than €3.8 million in financial support from the EU's 7th Framework Program.
New Aerogel-based plaster provides better insulationAugust 20, 2012
Space technology for old buildings

Old buildings are beautiful – and hard to insulate. Empa and the Swiss render manufacturer Fixit AG together developed a new Aerogel-based plaster that provides twice the insulation of currently used insulating renders. The product should come onto the market next year.
Risk re-classified for carcinogenic everyday substance6 August 2012
Empa X-ray expert "decodes" diesel soot

Since June 2012, it is official: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified diesel soot as a lung carcinogen. Artur Braun, a physicist at Empa and an X-ray spectroscopy expert, has made crucial contributions to analyzing the structure and composition of soot particles.
Boosting European competitiveness in photovoltaics13 July 2012
Empa joins consortium to develop solar cells

With 13 partners from all over Europe, Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, has launched an EU-funded project to develop affordable, more efficient solar cells. With an overall budget of 10 million Euro, the SCALENANO project aims at achieving breakthroughs in the cost-efficiency of photovoltaic devices and modules based on advanced thin film technologies.

Life-cycle analyses in the energy sector12th July 2012
Wind turbines – bigger means more environmentally friendly

A study conducted by researchers from the ETH and Empa has come to the conclusion that large sized wind turbines produce "greener" electric power than small ones. Environmental benefits have also accrued as wind turbine producers gain experience and learn from each other. The developers of life-cycle analyses have also profited from the experience of the last 30 years of wind generator usage because this allows them to fine tune their techniques, enabling them to better estimate the effects of new technologies over large timespans.

KTI research project «EcoFactory»3 July 2012
An eco-friendly factory

In the KTI research project «EcoFactory», Empa researchers are collaborating with industrial partners, economists from the ETH Zurich and computer scientists to develop software with which companies can determine the best processes for their manufacturing facilities for achieving both financial and ecological targets.
TA-SWISS study on localization technologies20 June 2012
Round-the-clock surveillance – how to counter it?

My Smartphone knows where I am and my credit card company does too. My cellphone provider records the time and place of each telephone conversation I have, and my employer registers, when I am opening the door of my office with my electronic access-badge! Where is all this leading us to? A study performed by TA-SWISS, the Centre for Technology Assessment, is delivering the answers with help from Empa.
Empa solar cells at the Swiss Museum of Transport14 June 2012
Movement through sunlight

«The Sun Moves» is a special exhibition at the “Verkehrshaus”, Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne, and last week it gained a new attraction – a showcase full of brightly colored, rotating solar cells which demonstrate the power of the sun and are intended to encourage visitors to think about solar energy.
The Hydrogen Consultants7 June 2012
First refueling stations for fuel cell powered buses opened

In Brugg, in Canton Aargau, post buses powered by fuel cells have been in operation since 2011. Empa staff researching in the fields of hydrogen and energy are involved in the project, acting as consultants during the initial five-year trial phase.
Hydrogen as a fuel6 June 2012
Mobility without noxious exhaust gases

Hydrogen created using renewable energy sources is a form of power which could free us from our dependency on oil, gas and coal. When hydrogen is used to generate power it produces no CO2 as an unwanted byproduct. Examples such as «hy.muve», a hydrogen powered communal cleaning vehicle, and post buses powered by fuel cell technology, both co-developed by Empa, emit only water vapor as exhaust gas and in addition are very quiet in operation. Room heating and cooking can also be performed using hydrogen – in Empa’s energetically independent SELF living quarters, a hydrogen powered stove provides warm meals for the inhabitants.
Fiber Society Meeting at Empa1 June 2012
Researching tomorrow's innovative textiles

Around 200 textile research professionals met at the end of May in St Gallen at the international Fiber Society Spring Conference to keep abreast of current trends in research and development in this field. The host organization was Empa, where intensive work is being carried out on fiber and textile innovations.
A milestone in nanoparticle research21 May 2012
Nanoparticle Test Handbook sets the standards

A new handbook has been published under Empa leadership which aims to unify European standards in nanoparticle research. It contains detailed regulations for the manufacture and analysis of specific nanoparticles in the laboratory environment, placing research work in this field on a unified foundation and enabling valid comparisons to be made between studies. The editor, Prof. Harald Krug, is head of Empa's «Materials meet Life» Department.
Functional working clothes14 May 2012
Real smart: protective clothing with built-in A/C

In order to test the new «smart» protective vest, an experimenter wearing one has jogged several kilometers on the treadmill in a climate-controlled chamber at Empa. During the jog he lost 544 grams in weight through sweating –  but thanks to the vest‘s integrated cooling system this was still 191 grams less than if he had been wearing a conventional garment.
Innovations on the market26 April 2012
To assess the mobility of bed-ridden patients

In June a monitoring system is becoming commercially available that will allow nursing staff to accurately record the mobility of bedridden persons. The system has been developed for the prevention of bedsores by Compliant Concept, a start-up at Empa’s glaTec technology center.
EmpaNews 36 published5. April 2012
Focus: Wood – a sustainable resource

For 75 years Empa has been conducting wood research. Despite (or perhaps expressly because of) this long history, wood is a material with a bright future. It is not just a construction material made from renewable sources – its microstructure also conceals many usable characteristics and scope for further processing.

Wood Research Symposium27 March 2012
The (re-)discovery of a versatile, multifunctional material

For 75 years Empa has been conducting research on all aspects relating to wood. Beginning with an investigation into the properties of various types of indigenous woods, today this has grown into a research area with many branches – from fundamental research on the structure of wood to chemically or biologically modified woods, novel wood fiber products and surface technologies. Empa scientists examine each of the material’s properties in minute detail and use these results to develop next-generation techniques of utilizing wood such as in the areas of acoustic insulation and structural engineering.
«Best Paper»-Award16th march 2012
Plastics in electrical waste: disposal or recycling?

Every year, the editors of the scientific journal «Environmental Science & Technology», select the best papers among their peer-reviewed contributions, which numbered more than 1500 in 2011 alone. This year, a contribution by Empa researchers has been awarded the title «Best Paper» in the «Policy Analysis» category. The scientists studied the proportion of restricted substances found in plastic components from waste electrical and electronic equipment.
Next conferences to be held in China, India, Africa and Latin America16 March 2012
World Resources Forum goes abroad

Against the backdrop of the multiple crises of the past years - financial, food and energy - the World Resources Forum announced today an expansion of its activities. On top of the successful bi-annual events in Davos, Switzerland, the Forum will start organizing conferences and smaller sized meetings in all regions of the world. An independent association has been set up to this end, supported by governments, industry and NGO’s.
Hydrogen-powered utility vehicle moves from Basel to St. Gallen13. March 2012
Hydrogen power in real life: clean and energy efficient

Since 2009, a hydrogen powered street cleaning vehicle has been undergoing testing on the streets of Basel. The project is intended to take hydrogen drives out of the laboratory and onto the streets in order to gain experience on using them under practical conditions. The result of the pilot trial: hydrogen as a fuel for municipal utility vehicles saves energy, is environmentally friendly and is technically feasible. In order to make it cost-effective, however, the prices of fuel cells, pressurized storage tanks and electric drives must all drop significantly.
CFC substitutes: good for the ozone layer, bad for the climate24 February 2012
Protecting the climate by reducing fluorinated greenhouse gas emissions

The Montreal Protocol led to a global phase-out of most substances that deplete the ozone layer, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). A happy side-effect of the gradual ban of these products is that the Earth’s climate has also benefited because CFCs are also potent greenhouse gases.

Innovative incontinence briefs offer security in everyday life21 February 2012
New solution for a sensitive problem

Scientists at Empa have worked with the industrial partner Incosan GmbH to develop a multi-layer pad and special briefs to make daily life easier for people suffering from incontinence. The products recently came onto the market.
Startling results in synthetic chemistry presented in «Nature Chemistry»13 February 2012
Ordered two-dimensional polymers created for the first time

Swiss scientists have created a minor sensation in synthetic chemistry. The team of scientists from ETH Zurich and Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, succeeded for the first time in producing regularly ordered planar polymers that form a kind of «molecular carpet» on a nanometer scale.
UN report finds imports of waste electronics from Europe exacerbate E-waste problem in Africa10 February 2012
Domestic consumption main contributor to Africa’s growing E-waste

West Africa faces a rising tide of E-waste generated by domestic consumption of new and used electrical and electronic equipment, according to a new United Nations report. Domestic consumption makes up the majority (up to 85 percent) of waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) produced in the region, according to the study. The E-waste problem in West Africa is further exacerbated by an ongoing stream of used equipment from industrialized countries, significant volumes of which prove unsuitable for re-use.

«Technology Briefing» on the scarcity of raw materials31 January 2012
No future without scarce metals

It is not just in laptop computers, mobile telephones and LED screens that scarce metals are to be found but also in solar cells, batteries for mobile technologies and many other similar applications. The rising demand for these metals increases the risk of a bottleneck in supplies.

Empa-«Technology Briefing»: Fiber-reinforced composites23 January 2012
Heavy going without lightweight materials

Automobiles made of steel suffer from a weight problem, and racing yachts made of steel have no chance of winning regattas. Fiber-reinforced composites offer an alternative which has spread rapidly in the transport industry. Empa's «Technology Briefing» offers an overview of the current situation and a preview of future developments.
An anatomically designed seat developed for wheelchairs encourages user movement16 January 2012
Improved ergonomics for wheelchair users

Empa engineers, together with the firm «r going», have succeeded in developing an ergonomic seat for electric wheelchairs which encourages the user to move around frequently. True to the motto «life is movement » the aim is to enhance the freedom of movement of wheelchair users with a range of disabilities.

Planning of Empa’s building laboratory in full swing10 January 2012
«NEST» makes experiments with buildings possible

Buildings are here to stay for a long time, but it is exactly this point that hinders experimentation on them. With its «NEST» building laboratory, Empa offers a way out of this dilemma. In NEST, only the supporting structure is permanent – all the rooms, including their facades, are interchangeable.
20 years of industrial computer tomography at Empa4 January 2012
The view inside

Empa is one of the leading institutions in the field of industrial computer tomography as a result of its many years of experience. And it is not only technical components such as cylinder heads and batteries which find their way into the tomograph, but also items such as fossils and food samples...

EmpaNewsletter No 25 published. Edition August 2015 main topic: «Unconventional Ideas»