Empa features in a bestseller

WAVE Trophy inspires a spy thriller!

May 19, 2015 | CORNELIA ZOGG

Who in their wildest dreams would ever have thought that Empa would play a role in a spy novel? What sounds like sheer fantasy is now reality! Now we give away one copy of the hard cover edition in English, signed by the authors. To the person who will send us the most creative book title concerning science at Empa. Please submit your proposal by 15. June to


«Projekt Black Hungarian» is a thriller that follows the route of the WAVE electric vehicle rally – a path that inescapably takes it right to Empa’s doorstep. Completely in tune with the book’s motto, «Spying is no game for amateurs», the professionals at Empa meet the novel’s main characters on the scientists’ home turf.
There is more than a hint of truth in the story. The two authors, Niall MacRoslin und Alice N. York, were inspired by the WAVE rally which, in 2013, took the route from Vienna to Zürich (see box). In their novel they weave together a fictional espionage story with current developments in the field of electromobility and IT security. Empa could hardly be overlooked – not only because it was one of the staging posts in the event, but also, of course, because of its renowned expertise in the field of batteries and electrical vehicles.


The Saviour who came out of the Institute
One of the protagonists in the novel is even an Empa staff member. Marcel Gauch, of the «Technology and Society» laboratory, played a role in a rescue mission during the actual rally. It was a strange feeling, he said, to be a character in a novel. “It gave me a bit of a shock when I saw my name in black and white in the book!” During the rally he was contacted by Alice N. York, one of the authors, when she made a stopover at Empa St. Gallen. She was gathering information on the technology involved in electrical vehicles. Before the book was published Gauch proofread it, offering technical input and comments as well as background information. It was then that he came across his own name. Other Empa staff members were also immortalized in the 390 page novel. One is described as «an elegantly dressed, white haired, retired gentleman with a moustache and spectacles». It is not difficult to guess who this might be – the former Head of Empa St. Gallen, Xaver Edelmann!

A fresh new image
Empa does very well for itself in this action and espionage thriller. Gauch himself, who went through the book with a tooth comb during the proofreading phase, agrees. «It made me very happy to see that Empa is portrayed as a proactive and open organization». The two authors took care to ensure that no real persons were involved in the intrigue and action of the main story. «For once a rather different kind of publication,» he adds, «showing that Empa has long shed its dry and dusty image and is right at the cutting-edge in its fields of expertise.»

«Project Black Hungarian» - Thriller by Niall MacRoslin and Alice N. York

The novel demonstrates that espionage really is not a game for amateurs. The Board for Industrial Research and Development has influenced all important political decisions taken since 1929. No one has ever heard of the BIRD, and no one knows who its members are. They are influential, secretive and professional, working under the guise of an international firm of consultants.
However, a new development, which could have far-reaching consequences for BIRD and its clients, has appeared on the scene. The new technology is to be tested in a comprehensive field trial, and the electric vehicle expedition WAVE offers the perfect cover for this. BIRD takes the usual measures to ensure that the new technology is unsuccessful. A team of operatives is infiltrated into the event. Standard procedure.
The operation also offers an excellent opportunity to train the next generation of agents. However, the newly recruited spies are young, impulsive, and act out of personal conviction. Another factor with which BIRD had not reckoned threatens to derail the operation very quickly – an elite unit of specialists from the organization DISECUPRO is being used to protect the development engineers and their innovative technology.
Suddenly, WAVE is no longer just an expedition!

Please read here


About the edition

Niall MacRoslin and Alice N. York: Project Black Hungarian. Novel. Published in August 2014 as a soft cover (ISBN 978-3-942358-43-9) or as an eBook. More information: http://www.wavetrophy.com/en/press/book/

WAVE Trophy

The first WAVE Trophy (World Advanced Vehicle Expedition) took place in 2011, following a route from Paris to Prague. Numerous electric vehicles are also taking part in this year’s event, which starts in eastern Germany, tracks through Switzerland and ends in the South Tirol, Austria. Teams from all over the world are taking part in the event, showing that electric vehicles, which are powered using renewable energy, already today represent a pollution free solution, ready for everyday use, to future mobility challenges – in addition, of course, to being a lot of fun to drive. The Tour Director and initiator of WAVE, the sustainability pioneer Louis Palmer (who incidentally hails from Lucerne) was the first person to travel all the way around the world in a solar powered vehicle, for which he was awarded the accolade of «Champion of the Earth» by the UN.