Tag Archives: Research

Interview – Geothermal and geoscience research in Switzerland | Instant News

Drilling rig on site in Satigny / Geneva, Switzerland (source: Geothermie 2020)

As part of broader geoscience research, the University of Geneva has also been involved in geothermal research for Switzerland as we learn in this interview.

Among the countries that signed the Paris Climate Agreement and committed to fighting climate change, Switzerland as another country has set its own path towards achieving its stated goals. Switzerland sees itself at the forefront of implementing concrete steps to tackle the challenges presented by climate change.

In an interview shared with the Swiss publication The Map Report, Prof. Andrea Moscariello of the University of Geneva in Switzerland provided a good overview of the ongoing research work by his group in Switzerland. Professor Andrea Moscariello has led the Geo-Energies research group at the University of Geneva’s Department of Earth Sciences for the past 10 years following a long international career in the hydrocarbons industry.

Prof. Moscariello, for many years has been interested in fundamental and applied research on topics related to geo-energy. Could you please explain to us what was discussed more precisely?

“My group’s research focuses primarily on the geo-energy contained in the sedimentary basins, in other words the geographic areas where most of the large human settlements are located and the soil layer is mostly water contained, and a lot of energy and mineral resources. , which are fundamental to industrial society and civilization. The issues we tackle cover a wide range of topics that require approaches at different scales aimed at understanding how these sedimentary basins form, fill, evolve over time and how and where they can accommodate energy resources (i.e. hydrocarbons, geothermal energy, and water) “.

How does your research work in the context of the energy challenges and global warming?

“The current energy challenges faced by our research group make this subject an attractive work area requiring a multidisciplinary approach and intelligent use of all kinds of classical and more advanced analytical methods and techniques. We have many geothermal support projects underway, these ranging from in-depth studies both in the field and in the laboratory to using state-of-the-art 3-dimensional geo modeling tools that aim to describe the rock in the subsoil quantitatively. process genetics and transformations over time and to simulate the fluids flowing through them. However, without the extraordinary assistance of public and private organizations, all these fundamental and applied research activities would not be possible ”.

We clearly conclude that in Switzerland there is a real commitment from the public and private sectors to find concrete steps towards the goal of zero CO2 emissions.

Fundamental and applied research has always been a priority activity for Switzerland, which has always excelled in technological innovation.

The importance of cutting-edge scientific research is confirmed by the fundamental support of the Federal, again demonstrated by the recent budget approved by the Swiss parliament for the four-year period 2021-2024 of CHF4.6 billion, which is dedicated exclusively to scientific research. Part of this funding will undoubtedly be dedicated to energy and climate challenges in the years to come. At the same time, the Confederation has implemented very concrete steps to encourage the search for deep geothermal sources that will allow it to replace in the medium and long term the current use of hydrocarbons, non-renewable fossil energy, for heat production. and energy. electricity. An important example is provided by the CO2 law. “

In this favorable context both for research and innovation and for industrial activities devoted to geothermal research, what is being done in Switzerland?

In the last 5 years we have seen a large number of civic and national initiatives aimed at the establishment of virtual competency centers that allow for building fruitful collaborations between academia and industry to enhance new data and information. This collaboration and integration makes it possible to better understand the subsoil and reduce the risks associated with deep well drilling. At the regional level, since 2014 the Canton of Geneva and their industrial energy services (GIS), which have collaborated with my research group for many years, have shown clear leadership in promoting geothermal research by continuing to invest a lot of financial resources, including blessings. federal assistance, and with very encouraging results.

After the seismic events caused by the Basel geothermal well in 2006 and St. Gallen in 2012 and the discovery of methane gas in 2012, exploration of deep geothermal resources appears to have no future. However, from what he described, it doesn’t seem so

Events in Basel and St. Gallen certainly had a negative impact on public perceptions and created a certain distrust of these profound projects. The great resistance shown by some communities to the Haute Sorne project in Jura is of course also related to this negative experience. Drilling deep wells certainly carries risks but modern technology, especially those developed in the oil industry, makes it possible to mitigate and reduce these risks both in the design phase and in the well execution phase. On the other hand, after the Basel events, great work to raise awareness and education of the population was carried out by the City of St. Gallen has allowed much higher reception for earthquakes caused in 2012 than it did. that happened in Basel. Negative surprise at St. Gallen is actually an unexpected discovery of methane gas. “

Based on the events described and the possible presence of hydrocarbons underground, do you think that deep geothermal exploration will continue in Switzerland?

Our research has confirmed that the accumulation of gases exists throughout the Swiss highlands but in all the cases we have studied these volumes are very small which can be managed with the necessary and well-known technological tools. Therefore, this accumulation should not hinder the search for alternative energy sources such as geothermal energy. In this case, the well of St. Gallen today, about 4200 m deep and still accessible today, but with the risk of being definitively cemented and abandoned, the risk becomes a symbol of the inability to figure out how to manage the resources offered to us from underground and an example of negative public investment. This well, on the other hand, is a wonderful opportunity to show the public that regardless of geological uncertainty and unforeseen events. “

Source: Map Report


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Increase the security of Swiss energy supply | Instant News

On January 8, 2021, a temporary fault affected the European power grid which could shut down the entire European grid. A complete blackout was only avoided thanks to the combined efforts of all grid operators and controlled outages of service to consumers in France and Italy. The reason for the avoidable catastrophe: the failure of major components on the European power grid triggered the closure of several subnetworks for about an hour.

Like similar incidents in the past, this episode shows that acute power outages are possible even in highly developed countries. At the same time, the energy industry is currently in a transition phase. The Energy Strategy 2050 commits Switzerland to a phased withdrawal from nuclear energy, coupled with energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy expansion. In addition, the government has set a net zero emission target by 2050.

But what happens if there are other serious technical problems, or perhaps political or economic shocks? Answering this question is the task of the ten institutions involved in the “PASTI” (Deliverable and Resilient Energy for Switzerland) project, with a budget of six million Swiss francs. It is one of four projects in the first call for a new SWEET (SWEET Energy research for Energy Transition) funding program supported by the Swiss Federal Energy Office.

Over the next six years, researchers will study specific events that could affect the future Swiss energy system and find ways to make energy supplies as sustainable, adaptable and resilient as possible. “Beyond sustainability, making Switzerland’s energy supply safe and self-sufficient is a top priority,” said Tom Kober, Head of the Energy Economics Group at the Energy Systems Analysis Laboratory at PSI’s Paul Scherrer Institute, and project coordinator of the SURE.

Many different factors come into play

An unexpected shock – what Tom Kober calls a “disturbing event” – can have many different causes. For example, critical energy infrastructure may not be fully available due to technical or energy policy constraints, or extreme weather events could substantially limit the country’s electricity generating capacity in the short term.

But it is not always a disaster that limits energy supply as examples such as hydropower, deep geothermal energy systems or large-scale solar parks have shown time and time again: other factors can influence individual energy technology breakthroughs, such as public acceptance, regulatory conditions or overall funding arrangements. That’s why these aspects also play an important role in the resilience of future energy systems.

Against this background, the SURE project from the start focused on close collaboration with 16 practitioners, including local authorities, energy providers and policy makers. The three case studies in Ticino, Zurich and the Basel region focus on specific aspects. In the Basel region, for example, the emphasis is on the sustainability and resilience of the electricity supply to local industries. Partners will organize regular workshops to coordinate the research objectives and requirements of the various actors and develop strategic instruments to support decision-makers.

Future plans include an online platform to help large segments of society better understand the compromises between the various dimensions of sustainability and resilience, and to resolve potential conflicts between competing measures to achieve a sustainable and stable supply of energy in the future. SURE’s goal is to support policymakers, technology developers and businesses with recommendations and guidelines, to help them shape their respective strategies for a more sustainable and resilient energy future.

Breaking into new territory with holistic modeling methods

The SURE project is new territory for research partners. Switzerland has a long tradition of computer modeling energy scenarios. This includes projects funded under the Swiss Competency Center for Energy Research (SCCER) program, which was completed last year. To date, however, Switzerland has never had modeling that covers future shock scenarios – until 2035 or even 2050 – combined with an analytical approach based on multiple indicators.

In addition, computer models for aspects such as infrastructure, renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainability, supply security and cost efficiency have never been combined with such a systematic approach. “This is definitely a first, and we want to develop our quantitative models and indicators further along these lines,” said Tom Kober. To that end, SURE is also working closely with three other SWEET projects that are researching innovations in the renewable energy sector to support the implementation of the 2050 Energy Strategy.

SWEET brings together nine leading Swiss research institutes, including ETH Zurich and EPFL Lausanne, plus its only foreign partner: the E3-Modeling consultancy in Athens, which has built an international reputation for its models analyzing technical and economic linkages at European and global levels.

The SURE project consortium includes the following research partners who are funded by the SWEET program of the Swiss Federal Energy Office:

  • Paul Scherrer Institute
  • ETH Zurich
  • Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne
  • Swiss Italian University
  • TEP Energy GmbH
  • Southern Swiss University of Applied Sciences and Arts
  • University of Bern
  • University of Geneva
  • Zurich ZHAW University of Applied Sciences
  • E3-Modeling SA

Text: Bernd Müller


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Australian Beef 2021 is a great industry fair | Instant News

  • Australian Beef is a triennial event held in Rockhampton, Queensland.
  • The Australian Government contributed $ 3.9 million for this major event.
  • Beef 2021 will connect beef producers, agribusinesses, industry experts and international trading partners.
  • Beef 2021 starts on May 2, and once again the beef industry from across Australia will converge in Rockhampton, Queensland.

    Minister of Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Australian Government is a strong supporter of the beef industry and is proud to continue to be Prime Partner of Australian Beef, contributing $ 3.9 million to the event.

    “It is time for the industry to come together, celebrate their achievements and showcase Australian beef from paddock to plate,” said Minister Littleproud.

    “Beef 2021 will not only demonstrate the quality of Australian beef cattle, but also feature demonstrations, seminars and property tours to deliver the latest research, solutions and products.

    “In addition, this event provides a unique opportunity for the Australian beef industry to build and maintain strong relationships with key stakeholders and the general public.

    “Events in 2018 generated approximately $ 85 million for the Queensland region.

    “This exhibition attracts around 100,000 attendees and showcases more than 500 regional businesses through trade fairs, and I believe this year will be even better.

    “Beef is big business in Australia. We feed people not only at home, but around the world, exporting two thirds of our quality and trusted products to more than 70 countries around the world.

    “The Australian beef industry is worth more than $ 15 billion to the Australian economy. There are more than 45,000 producers involved in the beef industry.

    “I also wish to acknowledge the importance of processors, transporters, agronomists, agribusinesses, exporters and all those involved in this extraordinary industry which makes an economic contribution to rural and regional cities, employing thousands of people”.

    / Public Release. This material comes from the original organization and may be point-in-time, edited for clarity, style and length. view more here.


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    Heart arrests are one of the biggest killers of Australians under 50, and doctors say more research is needed | Instant News

    There were several signs Bryan Maris was unwell before he died in his sleep at the age of 31.

    “I got on [to bed] beside Bryan and I lay beside him and he didn’t respond, and that’s when I realized something was wrong, “said his wife Jessica Maris.

    Even though she and the ambulance workers tried to bring her back to life, Maris died.

    And six years after his death, his family still doesn’t know what caused it.

    “She is perfectly healthy,” said Mrs. Maris.

    “He races class A bikes, he is very fit, super athletic, just a person who smiles happily and is a wonderful person.”

    One of Bryan Maris’ last photographs, taken just two days before his death.(

    Photo: Jessica Maris


    Mr Maris died of sudden unexplained heart attack, one of the biggest killers of people under 50 in Australia.

    About 20,000 people in Australia suffer sudden cardiac arrest each year. Less than 10 percent survive.

    And in about 30 to 40 percent of cases, doctors can’t explain what causes it, says Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute researcher and cardiologist Liz Paratz.

    “There are very few other conditions like that, where at the end of an extensive investigation we have to go back to the family and say there is no clear reason why this very tragic event occurred,” said Dr Paratz.

    “That obviously makes it very difficult with the lack of closure, but also with the lack of knowing who else might be at risk in the family.”

    A husband and wife smile and stand in front of the large monument of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
    Jessica Maris hopes to raise awareness about unexplained cardiac death, because “telling a 31-year-old to go to sleep and not wake up is not good.”(

    Photo: Jessica Maris


    Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart doesn’t work and stops beating unexpectedly. Unlike a heart attack, which occurs when blood flow to the heart becomes blocked.

    More than 2,000 Australians under the age of 50 die from unexplained heart attacks, with little or no warning, each year, the Baker Institute said.

    With a new study showing sudden heart attacks cost the Australian economy an estimated $ 2 billion in lost productivity each year, doctors say more investment is needed in researching what causes it and how to prevent it.

    Investment is required for heart attack research

    The man number 116 was pedaling his bicycle over the rocky terrain surrounded by trees.
    Bryan Maris, an engineer and class A cyclist, looked fit and healthy before his death.(

    Photo: Jessica Maris


    The study, led by Baker Institute researchers, looked at 4,637 people who suffered sudden cardiac arrest in Victoria between 2017 and 2018.

    Of these, only 695 patients – or 15 percent – survived and were successfully admitted to hospital. Only 325 patients – or 7 percent – survived long enough to be discharged from the hospital.

    Matching this information with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the researchers used modeling to estimate how many people were working at the time of their sudden cardiac arrest, and what their deaths meant in terms of years of lost productivity.

    “The loss in GDP is nearly $ 100,000 per person; extrapolated to about 20,000 people suffering from SCA across Australia each year, the national loss in GDP will be close to $ 2 billion,” the study, published in the medical journal Resuscitation, said.

    The costs are comparable to the productivity losses caused by all types of cancer combined, the researchers said.

    Liz Paratz stands in front of a large heart image with research information.
    Cardiologist Liz Paratz said it was devastating to not be able to tell families why their loved ones died.(

    ABC News: Oliver Gordon


    Prior to this study, the economic impact of sudden cardiac arrest had not been fully quantified in Australia or overseas.

    “There are various things that can cause a heart attack, such as a heart attack, or heart muscle problems, or genetic disorders, but for many cases … we don’t have the answers at all,” said Dr Paratz.

    “One of the messages of this paper is that every dollar we can spend on research and determining why people have heart attacks will be greatly appreciated in preventing economic loss and preventing tragedy for Australian families.”

    Economic costs are nothing compared to family costs

    Cardiologist Garry Jennings, chief medical advisor at the Heart Foundation, which partially funded the research, said the huge economic costs were not surprising, because sudden cardiac death affects both younger and older people.

    “But the dollar costs are nothing compared to the human costs of the families left behind,” he said.

    For Mrs. Maris, losing her husband was very big.

    A blonde haired man with a warm smile is carrying a small baby who is wearing a small jumpsuit with horns.
    Jessica said Bryan was a “wonderful and wonderful person” and a great father.(

    Photo: Jessica Maris


    She and her two young children lost an active and active father, who plans to work part-time and take three months of paternity leave to spend time with his new daughter.

    “All those dreams, all of them, all of our futures that we imagined together were lost,” he said.

    “Losing me was enormous, but what was most painful was the loss for my children that they didn’t have Bryan. He would be a wonderful father to them.”

    Professor Jennings said many people don’t realize how common sudden cardiac death is.

    And by sharing her story, Ms. Maris hopes to raise awareness and make a difference.

    “Bryan has no voice, but I can speak for Bryan and say that Bryan’s life is important,” said Mrs Maris.

    “Asking a 31 year old child to go to bed and not wake up is not allowed, and has 2,000 Australians [under 50] this year don’t wake up is not alright. “


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    Researchers conducted a SARS-CoV-2 serosurvey on blood donors in New Zealand | Instant News

    Various strategies are being used around the world to curb the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a new causative agent of COVID-19. The virus is highly contagious and is transmitted primarily by respiratory droplets from infected individuals.

    New Zealand’s approach has reportedly been successful in reducing the incidence of COVID-19 effectively. In New Zealand, the first COVID-19 infection was reported on 26 February 2020. After a month from the first incident, the country implemented a strict 49 day lockdown. They follow difficult border controls, skillfully manage quarantine facilities for new arrivals, and also effectively manage isolation programs. As a result, New Zealand has remained largely free of COVID-19. However, it should be noted that at first, the diagnosis was limited reagent, rigorous PCR testing is not carried out. In addition, small community outbreaks and border intrusions were also reported.

    Serological surveillance has been shown to be most effective and is used to determine the cumulative incidence and to assess the number of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. In the current scenario, due to national lockdowns and limited movement, blood donors have been used as population guards in many settings. New research has been released in medRxiv* preprint server, which focuses on SARS-CoV-2 transmission and prevalence in New Zealand, via blood donor serosurvey.

    In the current study, samples were obtained through a static collection center and a mobile collection service run by the Blood Service of New Zealand. Samples were collected from 3 December 2020 to 6 January 2021, from individuals aged between 16 and 88 years. In total, 9,806 samples were analyzed. From the 2018 New Zealand census, scientists determined a detailed overview of the participants’ demographics. Spatially speaking, the participants were most likely to come from sixteen districts, out of the twenty, represented by the health council. This study was also evaluated by the Health and Disability Ethics Committee.

    The researchers found that compared with antibodies to the nucleocapsid protein (N), specific antibodies to the Spike protein (S) and receptor binding domain (RBD) were maintained several months after COVID-19. Because of this, protein S-based assays are used in serosurveys. In this study, the serological testing algorithm was optimized for specificity due to the low number of COVID-19 cases reported in New Zealand. Furthermore, optimization is important because the prevalence of seropositive individuals is low (0.04%). This decreases the positive predictive value of the serologic test and also decreases the specificity.

    In this study, samples were initially filtered using 2-step ELISA. This test is based on a one-point dilution test against RBD, after which a titration is performed against the trimeric S protein. Blood samples above the cut-off were then assessed using two immunoassays, namely, EuroImmun SARS-CoV-2 IgG ELISA (EuroImmun AG, Lübeck, Germany) and cPass replacement Viral Neutralization Test (sVNT) (GenScript, New Jersey, USA) . Samples were considered seropositive only after obtaining positive results in both commercial tests. The sensitivity and specificity of this test were evaluated using a Receiver Operator Characteristic (ROC) curve, which is based on a previous analysis covering 413 pre-pandemic negatives, 99 confirmed cases of COVID-19 via PCR testing.

    Investigators of this study have reported that among 9,806 samples studied, 18 were found to be positive for Spike IgG (EuroImmun) and antibodies that inhibit the RBD-hACE-2 (sVNT) interaction with a high degree of correlation (Pearson r 0.7993, p <0.0001). Furthermore, these 18 seropositive samples were analyzed using a multiplex bead-based assay. This test determines the reactivity of the antibody isotypes to the RBD, S, and N proteins, whose patterns are found to be similar to those of infections that occurred weeks or months earlier. Most of the samples showed high concentrations of RBD and S. IgG protein. However, very few samples reported the presence of N IgG, IgA, or IgM proteins against three antigens (S, N, and M).

    The study reports that among 18 seropositive samples, six were associated with donors with previously confirmed COVID-19 infection. The other four seropositive samples were donors who had traveled to high-risk countries, such as the UK and Europe, in 2020. Thus, all four people were infected outside of New Zealand. The last eight seropositive samples came from seven different health districts, where the crude seroprevalence estimate was 0.082%. To estimate true prevalence, the Rogan-Gladen estimator was used with the CI Lang-Reiczigel method to assess the sensitivity of the test. In this study, it was estimated that the true seroprevalence was 0.103% (95% CI 0.09-0.12%). Furthermore, the research also revealed that during the study period, undiagnosed infections occurred.

    Investigators from this study observed that the very low seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in New Zealand indicates reduced community transmission. Similar incidents have also been reported in Australia. This study is the first report to provide serological evidence of the success of New Zealand’s strategy to control COVID-19 before the vaccination program.

    * Important Notice

    medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be construed as conclusions, guidelines for health-related clinical / behavioral practice, or are treated as established information.


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