Energy and Environment Research Division
Research at PSI comprises all aspects of human energy use, with the ultimate goal of promoting development towards a sustainable energy supply system. Technologies are being advanced for the utilization of renewable energy sources, low-loss energy storage, efficient conversion, and low emission energy use. Experimental and model-based assessment of these emissions forms the basis of a comprehensive assessment of economic, environmental and social consequences, for both present and future energy supply systems.
Division Head: Prof. Dr. Thomas Justus Schmidt
Highlights & News
Chemical changes inside of breathable airborne particles can cause reactive oxygen species (ROS) and carbon centered radicals (CCRs) to form, which are harmful to our bodies and induce oxidative stress in lungs. Using X-ray spectromicroscopy at the PolLux beamline and mimicking the environmental and sunlit conditions aerosol particles experience in the atmosphere near the Earth Surface, it was recently found that highly viscous organic particles with low water content can attain high concentrations of ROS and CCRs that persist over long times. Natural particles like these will occur in ambient humidity below 60% and effectively trap ROS and CCRs inside that react when exposed to light.
Platinum isolated atoms and clusters supported on molybdenum carbide have been characterized in situ by means of photoelectron spectroscopy. The presence of both species is essential to favor the stability, so that the catalysts displays high metal-normalized turnover number of 4,300,000 moles of hydrogen per mole of platinum during the water gas shift reaction.
Urs Baltensperger explains the background why it is absolutely necessary to wear masks in order to reduce the risk of beeing infected with Covid-19.
In the following you find the presentation and summary
Spätestens seit Corona ist der Maskengebrauch auch in der Schweiz im Alltag präsent. Doch wie gut können wir uns und andere mit verschieden Materialien vor kleineren und grösseren Partikeln schützen? Das alljährlich durchgeführte PSI Feriencamp bietet Kindern einen spannenden Einblick in die faszinierende Welt der Forschung. In diesem Jahr gingen Kinder an einer Projektstation genau dieser Frage nach. Dabei untersuchten sie, wie gut verschiedene Materialien die im Labor generierten Partikel zurückhalten. Es wurden Textilmasken (im Handel erhältlich, wiederverwendbar, nicht FFP2-zertifiziert), Chirurgenmasken (Einwegmasken, FFP2-zertifiziert), Teefilter, Kaffeefilter, Papiertaschentuch und WC-Papier getestet, und es wurde klar, Maske ist nicht gleich Maske.
Atmospheric aerosols are considered the single largest uncertainty in assessing the human contribution to global warming and amongst the top five health risks worldwide. Our ability to investigate aerosol sources, their formation processes in the gas-phase, and their societal impacts is largely governed by our capability to measure their molecular constituents in real-time. Researchers at PSI have combined for the first time ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry with high time resolution and sensitivity for the molecular analysis of aerosols.
Newly discovered rapid particle growth rates may be the answer to the mystery of aerosol formation in urban smog
Aerosols, suspended particles or droplets, play a key role in Earth’s atmosphere’s energy balance. They can also result in smog formation in cities, which leads to low visibility and serious health risks for the population. A recent study published in Nature outlines a newly discovered mechanism that may play a key role in the continued survival of particles in wintertime smog.
PSI researchers have designed and equipped a laboratory container for operation on research ships to undertake comprehensive studies of the chemistry and microphysics of the atmosphere. The floating laboratory was first deployed during the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE) with the aim of characterizing aerosol processes that are relevant for climate change in an atmosphere, which is hardly influenced by human emissions of air pollutants other than greenhouse gases.
Polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFC) are a key technology for the decarbonization of automotive mobility. In collaboration with Toyota, it is shown by dynamic, operando X-ray tomographic microscopy, how the liquid water saturation in modified gas diffusion layer materials is reduced.
The imaging data supports the understanding of the underlying mechanisms and explains improved cell performance. Novel instrumentation at the TOMCAT beamline further improves imaging time resolution and allows for scan times as short as 0.1 s.
PSI researchers went to the Jungfraujoch research station and applied in situ measurement techniques in real clouds to investigate the ability of soot particles to form cloud droplets. This is a key process determining the atmospheric life-cycle of soot particles, which are primarily emitted by combustion engines and which have a warming effect on climate by absorbing solar radiation.