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CO2-free fuel made from renewable electricity24 November 2015
“move“ – on course for the mobility of the future

The demonstration and technology platform “move” enables Empa researchers to develop new vehicle drive concepts with significantly lower CO2 emissions and test them in practice. It uses surplus electricity from photovoltaic plants or hydropower stations as an energy source. On the one hand, this enables batteries in electric cars to be charged. On the other hand, the electricity can also be converted into hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles or synthetic methane for natural gas/biogas vehicles.
Higher efficiency thanks to perovskite magic crystal23 November 2015
Tandem solar cells are simply better

Stacking two solar cells one over the other has advantages: Because the energy is “harvested” in two stages, and overall the sunlight can be converted to electricity more efficiently. Empa researchers have come up with a procedure that makes it possible to produce thin film tandem solar cells in which a thin perovskite layer is used. The processing of perovskite takes place at just 50 degrees Celsius and such a process is potentially applicable  for low cost roll-to-roll production in future.
Electrochemistry to satisfy mass demand12 November 2015
Super environmentally friendly: the “fool’s gold battery”

High-performance lithium ion batteries face a major problem: Lithium will eventually start to run out as batteries are deployed in electric cars and stationary storage units. Researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich have now discovered an alternative: the “fool’s gold battery”. It consists of iron, sulfur, sodium and magnesium – all elements that are in plentiful supply. This means that giant storage batteries could be built on the cheap and used stationary in buildings or next to power plants, for instance.
Concrete degradation5 November 2015
Structure of “concrete disease” solved

When bridges, dam walls and other structures made of concrete are streaked with dark cracks after a few decades, the culprit is AAR: the alkali-aggregate reaction. Also called the “concrete disease” or even “concrete cancer”, it is a chemical reaction between substances contained in the material and moisture seeping in from outside. AAR damages concrete structures all over the world and makes complex renovations or reconstructions necessary. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and Empa have now solved the structure of the material produced in the course of AAR at atomic level – and have thereby discovered a previously unknown crystalline arrangement of the atoms. They have now published their results in Cement and Concrete Research, the top journal in the field of building material research.
New class of materials: hybrid aerogels with biopolymers30th October 2015
Hybrid Aerogels as Superinsulators

Although they are considered to be the best insulators of all, silicate-based aerogels have the disadvantages of being brittle and tending to produce dust. With the development of a hybrid aerogel using biopolymers, researchers at Empa and MINES ParisTech University have overcome these problems whilst retaining the outstanding insulating properties of these ultra-light, porous yet solid materials.


EmpaNewsletter No 25 published. Edition August 2015 main topic: «Unconventional Ideas»

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