Advanced Analytical Technologies  
Luft und Partikelanalyse
Umwelt Massenspektrometrie
Instumentelle Analytik
Optische Mikroanalytik
Ultrakurzzeit-Spektroskopie

Group for Environmental Mass Spectrometry
We investigate release, transport and transformation processes of organic pollutants at the boundary between materials or technologies and the environment. Thereby, we aim especially to reduce the emission of persistent organic pollutants and harmful motor exhaust constituents. By a combination of field and laboratory experiments as well as numerical simulation, we strive for a profound understanding of the involved processes. This detailed process knowledge forms the basis for new materials and technologies without emission of harmful compounds

Contact

Dr. Andreas Gerecke, LA269
Phone: +41 58 765 4953
E-mail: andreas.gerecke@empa.ch

 

Projects

Release of chemicals from materials (project DustEx): We investigate the release of semi-volatile and non-volatile organic chemicals from materials as there is a lack of experimental data and validated models. Using small scale emission chambers and real-world settings, we study the influence of material, product, use and environmental parameters on the release of chemicals from materials to indoor air, dust and the environment. Currently, we investigate the release of perfluoralkyl compounds from textiles (PhD thesis of V. Sukiene; Funding: European Chemical Industry Council, CEFIC).

Measuring and modeling emissions of air pollutants in urban areas (project CityPOP): Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) were added to materials to modify their properties (e.g. plasticizers, flame retardants). Once included in construction materials, POPs can be slowly emitted over long time periods. Especially in urban areas, ambient air concentrations are often elevated. Field measurements and mathematical models can help to assess regional emission. The goal of this project is to refine the available methods to determine emissions on the scale of urban quarters or even single buildings. Thereby, the assessment of total emissions of polychlorinated biphenyls and chlorinated paraffins within the city of Zurich will be improved (PhD thesis of P. Diefenbacher; Funding: Federal Office for the Environment, Canton of Zurich, City of Zurich).

Abatement of toxic organic pollutants from exhaust gases: The exhaust of gasoline and diesel engines contains genotoxic organic compounds. We investigate the effect of modern exhaust aftertreatment systems on the emission of polychlorinated dioxins and furans, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and reactive nitrogen and oxygen compounds. Many systems (e.g., diesel particulate filters) show a high elimination of such compounds. However, certain process conditions need to be avoided as they lead to the formation of secondary organic pollutants (PI: N. Heeb; Funding: Federal Office for the Environment, Industrial partners).

Ultratrace analysis for the identification of sources of persistent organic pollutants: Polychlorinated dioxins and furans, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and some brominated flame retardants belong to the most toxic organic pollutants. Based on specialized sampling techniques and ultra-trace analytical know-how sources of environmental contaminations are detected and recommendations for elimination strategies are suggested. For example, by passive-sampling the sources of aquatic PCB-contamination could be detected and in collaboration with all involved stakeholders the source was eliminated (PI: M. Zennegg; Funding: Federal Office for the Environment).

Dioxins und PCBs in agriculture. Farming in Switzerland stands for production of superior and healthy food. Exceedances of permitted maximum levels for dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) in food of animal origin (e.g. veal) provoke high media attention and may thus compromise this reputation. We support authorities and producers in the appraisal of contamination situations: How were the animals contaminated? Which are the responsible sources and pathways of these highly toxic chemical pollutants? What can be done to prevent the exposure of the animals and eventually to reduce the levels in the contaminated foodstuffs? In research projects, longer-term measures aiming at the protection of the food chain from chemical pollutants will be developed (PI M. Zennegg; Funding: Federal and cantonal authorities).

Current status and new concepts of gasoline vehicle emission control for organic, metallic and particulate non-legislative pollutants (project GASEOMEP) In the next decades to come, we will be exposed to nanoparticle loaded exhausts of gasoline direct injection (GDI) vehicles with yet unknown consequences. But we have the choice to equip these vehicles with catalytic filter technology or not. In the GASOMEP project, we will investigate the emission characteristics of various GDI vehicles and evaluate the potential of gasoline particle filters (GPFs) currently developed by our industrial partners. The three-year project is a joint effort of the industry, regulators, and the Swiss research institutions PSI, the Universities of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (UASNW) and Biel (UASB) as well as Empa (Postdoc of M. Munoz under supervision of  N. Heeb; Funding and support: CCEM, BAFU, industrial partners)

  • Head of Group
    • Dr. A. Gerecke
  • Staff
    • J. Bachmann
    • Dr. N. Heeb
    • Dr. M. Munoz
    • M. Zennegg
  • PhD Students
    • P. Diefenbacher
    • L. Schinkel
    • V. Sukiene
  • Academic Guests and Trainees
    • C. Zimmermann
  • Apprentices
    • E. Ceylan
    • D. Perrone
    • M. Senn
    • N. Zwahlen
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