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Salvatore Aprea, between archives and projection of wall prototypes. © 2023 EPFL / A. Herzog

Experts revive ancient techniques to make concrete more sustainable

— A team of experts from EPFL, ETH Zurich and a Geneva-based architecture firm has developed a new type of non-reinforced concrete made from stone offcuts. Their method, which reduces the use of carbon-intensive cement-based binders, draws on ancient techniques uncovered in historical archives.

Aerial view of the experimental site in Siberia.© EPFL/Yugra State University, Khanty-Mansiysk

Scientists explore hidden dynamics in peat under mosses and shrubs

— Global warming is causing extensive changes to peatland vegetation in Europe and Western Siberia, with consequences for soil composition and the peatlands’ ability to sequester carbon. An EPFL-led study has examined the mechanisms behind these complex processes.

Durban's beach after a flood on 13 April 2022, two years after the one of 2019. © iStock/Antonio BlancoDR

AI helps detecting plastic in oceans

— A research team from EPFL and Wageningen University has developed a new artificial intelligence model that recognises floating plastics much more accurately in satellite images than before. This could help to systematically remove plastic litter from the oceans with ships.

Dimitrios Lignos is the Director of the Civil Engineering Institute at EPFL. © EPFL/Alain Herzog

How can we use steel efficiently for sustainable design?

— In this column, published in three regional dailies, Dimitrios Lignos, who heads EPFL’s Resilient Steel Structures Laboratory (RESSLab), explains how his laboratory's research is contributing to a more thoughtful use of steel in construction.


Cities offer an array of opportunties for a sustainable future

— Today, half of the world's population lives in urban areas. This is giving rise to major challenges in terms of securing a sustainable future – a topic that will be explored during the World Cities Day on 31 October. Here is an overview of EPFL research carried out in this field.

© Lionel Favre / 2023 EPFL

A summer of intense field-work for the GreenFjord project

— GreenFjord is a four-year research program intended to investigate how climate change is affecting ecosystems in southern Greenland. The scientists just completed a first intensive field season where they won over the local residents. The next step will be to analyze the millions of datapoints they collected.

The CryoNanoSIMS setup at EPFL. Credit: A. Meibom (EPFL)

A deep look into the progression of Parkinson's Disease

— Scientists at EPFL use cutting-edge imaging techniques to shed light on the progression of Parkinson's disease by studying how the main culprit, the protein alpha-synuclein, disrupts cellular metabolism.

The "Lanterns" were opened on July 14, in the city of Kandy, in Sri Lanka. © RAW

Toilets serve as concrete examples for industrial restructuring

— Through an innovative project in Sri Lanka, an EPFL researcher and a Sri Lankan researcher have demonstrated that construction practices in transition economies can operate more efficiently, sustainably and responsibly.

© iStock Image, credits: hanohiki

Three new CROSS projects chosen to address issues facing society

— The 2024 edition of the CROSS (Collaborative Research on Science and Society) program invited researchers from EPFL and the University of Lausanne to submit proposals for joint projects that bring together the natural sciences and engineering with social sciences and humanities to address some of the most pressing societal challenges. Two out of the three projects involve researchers from ENAC. 

Students demonstrating during Fridays for Future climate strikes.© Istock

The first climate strikes had an influence on Swiss residents

— A study by EPFL researchers found that Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future climate strikes have influenced the environmental behavior of Swiss residents.

The study shows that having neighbors with solar panels plays a significant role. © iStock Photos

Neighbors can influence your decision to buy solar panels

— An EPFL study carried out in Vaud Canton has shed light on the factors that can prompt people to buy solar panels. It found that having neighbors with solar panels plays a significant role, alongside more well-known influences, such as our social circle.

The wildfires in Alberta Province, Canada, on 14 May 2023. © iStock Photos

Europe highlights the role of the PyroTRACH project on public health

— By including the PyroTRACH research project in its 2022 annual report, the European Research Council has underscored the importance of the work being done by ENAC professor Athanasios Nenes and his team in the area of public health, climate and mitigation.

Rock faults.© Istock

Scientists gain insight into geothermal-technology induced seismicity

— EPFL scientists have developed a model that sheds light on the seismic risks arising from subsurface fluid injections carried out as part of geothermal energy extraction. 

Prof. Nenes and postdoc Kunfeng Gao on the roof of MeteoSwiss building in Payerne. © A. Goy/EPFL

EPFL launched a pioneering project to detect pollen, dust and smoke

— Since the start of this year, a suite of instruments has been hard at work detecting a broad spectrum of aerosols at the MeteoSwiss weather station in Payerne, in Vaud Canton. This pioneering project – a joint initiative between EPFL, the Swiss Federal Office of Meteorology Climatology and European partners – aims to improve pollen forecasting and to gain further insights into the critical impact that bioaerosols, smoke and dust have on cloud formation and climate.

Construction’s second stage of Sydney opera house (1963–1976).© David Moore photography

Sydney Opera House is still revealing its secrets as it turns 50

— EPFL professor Paolo Tombesi has rewritten an important part of the history of this gem of Australian architecture. Tapping into previously unexplored archives, he found that its distinctive roof – consisting of shells in the form of boat sails – was assembled through a remarkable feat of engineering. 

The gut commensals Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron and B. fragilis form biofilms in crypt-like features. Credit: Jeremy Wong (EPFL)

Flowing fluids shape the social life of gut microbes

— A groundbreaking study reveals that the flow of fluids influences the spatial organization of bacterial communities that inhabit our intestines, revealing an overlooked factor potentially mediating our microbiome and gut health.

Wind, solar and water energy.© Getty

The 2°C warming target remains in sight

— Can the 120 countries that signed the Glasgow Climate Pact keep to the pledges they made for 2100? Researchers at EPFL have developed detailed models for calculating long-term CO2 emissions-reduction trajectories and analyzing their impact on global warming. Their findings offer a glimmer of hope. 

From the left to the right:Anders Meibom,Florent Plane,Stéphane Escrig. ©2023 EPFL/A.Herzog

EPFL scientists unlock new horizons for cryogenic microscopy

— EPFL scientists have developed a new research instrument for observing biological tissue samples prepared using a method discovered about forty years ago by Nobel Prize winner Jacques Dubochet, emeritus professor at the University of Lausanne. Their instrument – the only one of its kind in the world – opens up promising new avenues of research.

Andrew Sonta is Tenure track assistant professor at the Smart Living Lab in Fribourg.© 2023 EPFL

Why flexible working has the power to change our cities

— In this column, published in three local dailies, Andrew Sonta, engineer and Tenure track assistant professor at the Smart Living Lab explains how evolving patterns of behavior have called into question the value of the physical office space and add an additional layer of complexity to optimal building design and operation.

Cheese fondue © EPFL / iStock / margouillatphotos 2023

Climpact: Flying, Fondue and CO2

— Everything we do has a carbon footprint but are our perceptions of the emissions we generate on a daily basis aligned with reality? To find out, two EPFL researchers have launched Climpact a new tool to help separate fact from fiction.

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