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
Energy Briefing Event 2023
The Energy and Environment Division of the Paul Scherrer Institut PSI successfully hosted their second Energy Briefing Event at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern. The event focused on the potentials and challenges associated with the production, regulation, and utilization of synthetic fuels. Representatives from WWF, Avenergy, PSI, and BAZL shared their expertise and insights on this topic.
A heartfelt appreciation goes out to Ulrich Koss (Metafuels), Theo Rindlisbacher (BAZL), Christian Bach (Empa), Thomas J. Schmidt (PSI), Thomas Häusler (WWF Switzerland), Daniel Hofer (Avenergy Suisse), and our moderator Stephan Lendi for their invaluable contributions and insightful perspectives.
Energy Briefing Event 2022
On June 28th, 2022, the Energy Divisions (ENE and NES) at PSI hosted their first Energy Briefing Event at the Kursaal in Bern. Knowledgeable voices from industry, research and government shared insights in a dialogue on the feasibility of the Net Zero goal and what next steps are required to achieve this collectively.
A big thank you to Daniela Decurtins (GazEnergy), Particia Sandmeier (Hitachi Energy), Martin Naef (ABB), Pascal Previdoli (BFE), Thomas Schmidt (PSI), Christian Verhoeven (GE), Peter Richner (Empa), Andreas Pautz (PSI) and our Moderator Stephan Lendi for their valuable contributions and insights!
Highlights & News
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.
Researchers of the Laboratory for Catalysis and Sustainable Chemistry (LSK) from PSI have designed uneven probe supports, which reveal the hidden site of nanocrystals.
Their simple approach allows transmission electron microscopes (TEMs) complete access to the atomic structure of nanomaterials without the need for cumbersome experimental effort.
Award conferred by SwissLung.org during the award ceremony in Berne, Switzerland
Investigation on early stage of solid formation from solution, before nucleation, have been carried out at PSI by small angle scattering technique using X-ray light from the Swiss Light Source SLS. The system under analysis was calcium carbonate, a model system archetype of several sparsely soluble inorganic materials and relevant in many field such as CO2 capturing and biomineralization. The experimental setup, the method, and developed theoretical framework can be applied to many other systems and made available for the entire scientific community.
Kinetics and Mechanism of Metal Nanoparticle Growth via Optical Extinction Spectroscopy and Computational Modeling: The Curious Case of Colloidal Gold
An overarching computational framework unifying several optical theories to describe the temporal volution of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) during a seeded growth process is presented. To achieve this, we sed the inexpensive and widely available optical extinction spectroscopy, to obtain quantitative kinetic data. In situ spectra collected over a wide set of experimental conditions were regressed using the hysical model, calculating light extinction by ensembles of GNPs during the growth process. This model rovides temporal information on the size, shape, and concentration of the particles, and any electromagnetic interactions between them. Consequently, we were able to describe the mechanism of GNP growth and divide the process into distinct genesis periods. We provide explanations for several longstanding mysteries, e.g., the phenomena responsible for the purple-greyish hue during the early stages of GNP growth, the complex interactions between nucleation, growth and aggregation events, and a clear distinction between agglomeration and electromagnetic interactions. The presented theoretical formalism has been developed in a generic fashion so that it can readily be adapted to other nanoparticulate formation scenarios such as the genesis of various metal nanoparticles.
Scientists have just nucleated ice in an X-ray microscope for the first time and they created chemical maps of those responsible.
Recent advances in electron crystallography published in Angewandte Chemie and highlighted by Science, Chemical & Engineering News and ScienceNews!Under the lead of LSK member, "Rapid structure determination of microcrystalline molecular compounds using electron diffraction", published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/anie.201811318 has attracted great attention in the chemistry community.
In the first half of the 19th century, a series of large volcanic eruptions in the tropics led to a temporary global cooling of Earth's climate. That Alpine glaciers grew and subsequently receded again during the final phase of the so-called Little Ice Age was due to a natural process. This has now been proven by PSI researchers on the basis of ice cores.