In the past year, various reports from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have warned the world in no uncertain terms that in order to achieve a stable climate on our planet by the end of this century, any increase in CO2 emissions in the coming decades must be curbed before the emissions can be appreciably reduced. According to the IPCC, the maximum amount of CO2 emissions that can be tolerated globally by the end of the 21st century amounts to roughly 2000 gigatons. This will mean a considerable reduction in the emission of CO2 per capita.
The per capita emission of carbon dioxide in Switzerland is currently 9 tons per year, approximately twice the global average. "Our objective for the climate and energy policy for the century has to be to induce each member of the human race to produce not more than 1 ton of carbon dioxide per year", Professor Ralph Eichler, President ETH Zurich, explained to the media today.
Systematic implementation of 3E strategyThis proposed emission target for carbon dioxide may seem ambitious by today's standards, but it can be achieved by the end of the century both in Switzerland and throughout the world. This is reflected in the calculations made by ETH Zurich's own Energy Science Center (ESC). In order to reach the target, an energy strategy will have to be consistently implemented. As stated by Profes-sor Konstantinos Boulouchos, the proposed strategy is based on three pillars: 1) the exhaustion of efficiency potential, 2) the extended use of renewable energy sources and 3) the increased share of electricity in the energy mix.
Exhausting the efficiency potential will mean increasing efficiency in every link of the energy conversion chain, from extraction at the energy source, through stor-age and distribution up to energy usage. This alone would harbour great sav-ings potential, especially when combined with market-based instruments to in-fluence the demand side.
The second E of the strategy focuses on the use of renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaics, water, and wind. Important to note is that economic as well as ecological aspects must be taken into consideration when using renew-able energy sources.
Electricity as the backbone of the energy system
The newcomer to the 3-E strategy constitutes the third E: electrification. Accord-ing to ETH Zurich researchers, in future C02 poor electricity will establish itself as the backbone of a sustainable energy system. It is increasingly being used in heating and cooling buildings (with heat pumps, for example), and is expected to extend to individual mobility (moving, in the long run, from hybrid vehicles to fully electric cars).
A reorientation of the energy system, however, will not happen overnight. It is likely to take several decades. All the more reason that it is crucial that steps be taken today: infrastructure in industrialized countries (transmission network, power plants) needs to be renewed and in threshold countries, erected.
Innovative research at ETH Zurich
ETH Zurich conducts intensive research with a mind to finding new solutions and methods to face the CO2 problem. Professor Marco Mazzotti from the Insti-tute for Process Engineering is researching the possibilities of eliminating CO2 in fossil-fueled power stations and combining it with stable and solid substances. This so-called mineralization thus facilitates the permanent and secure storage of greenhouse gases. Power electronics are becoming increasingly smaller and more efficient: the research group headed by Professor Johann Kolar from the Power Electronic Systems Laboratory is devoted to developing such compo-nents that are deployed, for example, in hybrid vehicles. Efficient control of the drive system of such cars makes a significant contribution towards environmen-tally-friendly private transport.
Promising ETH Zurich research is also being carried out in the field of building systems engineering. The technology at our fingertips today would already en-able us to replace CO2-emitting heating and boiler systems with a combination of innovative wall insulation and heat pumps - with free renewable energy from the ground. This ingenious concept is also just the ticket for existing buildings. "We just need to get cracking", explains Professor HansJürg Leibundgut from the Institute for Building Systems. Within five to six years it should be possible to produce the necessary components on an industrial level so that for the price of a mid-range car, a four-room apartment can be refurbished, with the effect that practically all of the CO2 previously generated by heating and warm water can be prevented.
Renata Cosby | idw
Urban growth causes more biodiversity loss outside of cities
10.12.2019 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Wie ganze Ökosysteme langfristig auf die Erderwärmung reagieren
10.12.2019 | Universität Wien
Vaccinia viruses serve as a vaccine against human smallpox and as the basis of new cancer therapies. Two studies now provide fascinating insights into their unusual propagation strategy at the atomic level.
For viruses to multiply, they usually need the support of the cells they infect. In many cases, only in their host’s nucleus can they find the machines,...
More than one hundred and fifty years have passed since the publication of James Clerk Maxwell's "A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field" (1865). What would our lives be without this publication?
It is difficult to imagine, as this treatise revolutionized our fundamental understanding of electric fields, magnetic fields, and light. The twenty original...
In a joint experimental and theoretical work performed at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, an international team of physicists detected for the first time an orbital crossing in the highly charged ion Pr⁹⁺. Optical spectra were recorded employing an electron beam ion trap and analysed with the aid of atomic structure calculations. A proposed nHz-wide transition has been identified and its energy was determined with high precision. Theory predicts a very high sensitivity to new physics and extremely low susceptibility to external perturbations for this “clock line” making it a unique candidate for proposed precision studies.
Laser spectroscopy of neutral atoms and singly charged ions has reached astonishing precision by merit of a chain of technological advances during the past...
The ability to investigate the dynamics of single particle at the nano-scale and femtosecond level remained an unfathomed dream for years. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that nanotechnology and femtoscience gradually merged together and the first ultrafast microscopy of individual quantum dots (QDs) and molecules was accomplished.
Ultrafast microscopy studies entirely rely on detecting nanoparticles or single molecules with luminescence techniques, which require efficient emitters to...
Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Depending on the shape and orientation of their edges, graphene nanostructures (also known as nanographenes) can have very different properties – for example,...
03.12.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
13.12.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
13.12.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
13.12.2019 | Materials Sciences