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Environment - 17.09.2019
Wood that shapes itself
Wood that shapes itself
Researchers from ETH Zurich, Empa and the University of Stuttgart have developed a new technique involving a controlled drying process that makes wooden panels bend into a pre-set shape without the use of any mechanical force. Wood is a renewable resource and a popular, sustainable construction material.

Environment - 17.09.2019
Montreal Protocol prevents depletion of ozone layer, but
Montreal Protocol prevents depletion of ozone layer, but
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017, was the first UN multilateral environmental agreement to be universally ratified (197 Parties by 2008). The aim of this treaty is to protect the stratospheric ozone layer - essential for life on Earth - by phasing out the production and controlling emissions of ozone-depleting substances (chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs).

Environment - Microtechnics - 12.09.2019
"Flying fish" robot can dive and fly
A bio-inspired bot uses water from the environment to create a propelling gas and launch itself from the water's surface. The robot had been developed by researchers at Imperial College London. It can travel 26 meters through the air after take-off and could be used to collect water samples in hazardous and cluttered environments, such as during flooding or when monitoring ocean pollution, report the team lead by Mirko Kovac, who also heads the joint "Materials and Technology Center of Robotics" at Empa, in the latest issue of "Science Robotics".

Environment - Earth Sciences - 12.09.2019
Gloomy forecast for the Aletsch Glacier
Gloomy forecast for the Aletsch Glacier
The largest glacier in the Alps is visibly suffering the effects of global warming. ETH researchers have now calculated how much of the Aletsch Glacier will still be visible by the end of the century. In the worst-case scenario, a couple patches of ice will be all that's left. Every year, it attracts thousands of visitors from around the world: as the largest ice flow in the Alps, the Great Aletsch Glacier is a major tourism draw in the Swiss region of Upper Valais, second only to the Matterhorn.

Environment - Social Sciences - 11.09.2019
Global Sustainable Development Report calls for urgent, coordinated action
Global Sustainable Development Report calls for urgent, coordinated action
A world without poverty, in which everyone's well-being is ensured: achieving this goal by 2030 is still possible, but only if the relationship between people and nature is fundamentally changed and social inequalities are reduced. That is the conclusion of the 2019 UN Global Sustainable Development Report, drafted by an independent group of scientists co-chaired by Peter Messerli, University of Bern, and Endah Murniningtyas.

Environment - 10.09.2019
Treating more wastewater with less energy
Treating more wastewater with less energy
More and more people are moving to cities and agglomerations in Switzerland, which is putting extreme pressure on some wastewater treatment plants: Because they are having to treat greater volumes of wastewater, their energy consumption is skyrocketing. And some WTPs are close to reaching capacity. Together with various project partners from industry, Eawag has now been testing out a new kind of technology for the past six months at the Sihltal WTP.

Environment - Innovation / Technology - 09.09.2019
Interest rates are a decisive factor for competitive renewables
Renewable energy has become competitive - and one often-overlooked reason is the reduced cost of financing. Researchers from ETH Zurich and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have modelled different scenarios in order to investigate the impact of rising interest rates on renewable energy.

Environment - 09.09.2019
Human influence on groundwater quality
Human influence on groundwater quality
Eawag researchers have identified the major anthropogenic threats and their chief origins in a review article. Intensive agriculture, urban sprawl, the pharmaceutical industry, poor wastewater infrastructure, lack of water-quality data as well as lack of awareness of the meaning of groundwater as a renewable resource are among the most urgent problems.

Environment - 04.09.2019
Natural ways of cooling cities
Natural ways of cooling cities
ETH scientists have been researching the effect of precipitation and population size on rising temperatures in cities compared with the surrounding countryside. They have found that more green spaces can help to lower temperatures in urban zones - but not everywhere. Urban heat islands are a phenomenon where the temperature in a city is noticeably higher than in the surrounding rural area.

Environment - Electroengineering - 03.09.2019
River under current
River under current
Switzerland is proud of its strongly developed use of hydropower. This covers almost 60% of the country's electricity needs. The production of around 36 terawatt hours (TWh) per year is now to be increased by a further 3 TWh by 2050 as part of the energy strategy. Eawag, the water research institute, is today presenting internal and external experts at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne on the challenges this poses for water bodies and the approaches society can take to meet these challenges.

Environment - Business / Economics - 03.09.2019
A blueprint for the EU's ecological transition
Two EPFL researchers have contributed to a discussion paper for new members of the European Parliament, published ahead of the resumption of parliamentary business this week. In their chapter, they suggest that reversing the tide of deindustrialization and redistributing industrial activities in Europe could cut energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the long run.

Environment - Innovation / Technology - 23.08.2019
Energising buildings
Energising buildings
A solar façade developed at ETH Zurich combines electricity production with intelligent shading to achieve optimal energy balance. Heating or cooling internal spaces requires energy. More intelligent building façades could save much of that energy. A system developed at ETH Zurich uses movable solar panels to generate electricity while at the same time allowing the right amount of sunshine or shade to suit weather conditions and internal use.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 20.08.2019
Methods for reducing the risks of melting glaciers
Methods for reducing the risks of melting glaciers
Under a pilot project being spearheaded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), a team of experts - including civil and environmental engineers from EPFL - are studying methods to help protect a region of the Andes Mountains threatened by glacial retreat. The testing phase of the pilot project will conclude at the end of the month.

Environment - 19.08.2019
Cows Influence Plant Composition of Pastures
Cows Influence Plant Composition of Pastures
Angus, or Scottish Highland: not all cows are the same when it comes to a preference for different shrub, herbaceous and grass species. Research work carried out by Agroscope with the Universities of Heidelberg and Göttingen in Germany shows that cattle breed influences the botanical composition of pasture.

Life Sciences - Environment - 16.08.2019
Humans May Have Had Key Role in Cave Bear Extinction
Humans May Have Had Key Role in Cave Bear Extinction
Humans may have played a substantial role in the extinction of the European cave bear at the end of the last ice age. These findings of a study with the involvement of the University of Zurich suggest a drastic cave bear population decline starting around 40,000 years ago. Where in Europe did different populations of cave bears live and how they did they migrate during the Late Pleistocene? This is the topic that Verena Schünemann from the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich and a team of researchers investigated.

Health - Environment - 15.08.2019
Heatwaves Increase Emergency Admissions to Swiss Hospitals
Heatwaves Increase Emergency Admissions to Swiss Hospitals
Numerous studies have shown that heat increases mortality rates. 1,2 In Switzerland, for example, the hot summer of 2015 caused around 800 additional deaths. 3 Only a few studies, however, have investigated the effects of heatwaves on morbidity and hospital admissions. Researchers from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) recently conducted a detailed analysis of emergency hospital admissions in Switzerland during the three heatwaves between June and August 2015 in a study commissioned by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

Chemistry - Environment - 29.07.2019
A catalyst for sustainable methanol
A catalyst for sustainable methanol
Scientists at ETH Zurich and oil and gas company Total have developed a new catalyst that converts CO2 and hydrogen into methanol. Offering realistic market potential, the technology paves the way for the sustainable production of fuels and chemicals. The global economy still relies on the fossil carbon sources of petroleum, natural gas and coal, not just to produce fuel, but also as a raw material used by the chemical industry to manufacture plastics and countless other chemical compounds.

Environment - Materials Science - 29.07.2019
Unravelling corrosion
Unravelling corrosion
ETH researchers have succeeded in elucidating how and at what rate steel corrodes in a variety of porous materials. Their findings help enable the breakthrough of new, environmentally friendly types of cement. The rate at which steel corrodes in concrete or other porous materials is crucial to a large number of technological applications, such as underground pipelines or steel-reinforced concrete bridges.

Environment - 26.07.2019
Next-gen membranes for carbon capture
Next-gen membranes for carbon capture
EPFL chemical engineers have developed a new class of high-performance membranes for carbon capture that greatly exceed current targets. A major greenhouse gas, CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels is still mostly released into the atmosphere, adding to the burden of global warming. One way to cut down on it is through a carbon capture: a chemical technique that removes CO2 out of emissions ("postcombustion"), preventing it from entering the atmosphere.

Environment - History / Archeology - 24.07.2019
The climate is warming faster than it has in the last 2,000 years
The climate is warming faster than it has in the last 2,000 years
In contrast to pre-industrial climate fluctuations, current, anthropogenic climate change is occurring across the whole world at the same time. In addition, the speed of global warming is higher than it has been in at least 2,000 years. That's according to two studies from the University of Bern. Many people have a clear picture of the "Little Ice Age" (from approx. 1300 to 1850).
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