Sources, Assessment and Reduction of Emissions of Air Pollutants and Noise

The aim of this module in the Natural Resources and Pollutants Research Area (NAREP) is to understand and quantify the origin and release of anthropogenic pollutants and noise into the atmosphere by determining their temporal and spatial variability. Knowledge of sources, pollutant flows, transport and transformation is essential for impact assessment, emission reduction, early detection of potential damage and for the assessment of environmental protection measures.

NAREP activity areas: Sources, assessment and reduction of air pollutants

Air pollutants focus on substances that are relevant to human health, climate change, material cycles and ecosystems. To this end, Empa develops, validates and uses state-of-the-art measurement methods for pollutants such as nanoparticles, reactive gases, greenhouse gases and persistent organic compounds (POPs). The measurements are combined with numerical models for different ranges and scales. These range from very local processes, such as the concentration of nanoparticles in road traffic, to global phenomena, such as the transport of air pollutants from the northern hemisphere to the Antarctic. In addition, technologies are being developed to reduce emissions, such as optimised drive trains, more efficient road surfaces and improved processes for flue gas cleaning.

Modelling of the NO2 concentration in the city of Lausanne

In the field of noise, Empa is investigating all outdoor sound sources, from traffic noise to industrial and commercial noise to wind turbines and noise from sports fields. The entire chain from sound generation to sound propagation in the open air to the effect on humans is researched. With our understanding of source properties and propagation phenomena as well as our capabilities in measurement technology and signal analysis, we assess and optimize specific noise situations and develop methods for mathematical prediction. To assess the effect of sound on humans, we conduct psychoacoustic experiments using measured noise examples or synthetic auralization of noise sources.

sonAIR - Noise level on the ground during the launch of an Airbus A330 at Zurich Airport