Inaugural lecture: With materials innovations into a sustainable future


Event details

Date 05.03.2024
Hour 17:1518:00
Speaker Prof. Tanja Zimmermann
Location Online
Category Inaugural lectures - Honorary Lecture
Event Language English

The transition from fundamental research to practical applications of novel materials holds significant promise in addressing pressing societal challenges, including resource depletion, elevated atmospheric CO2 levels, and resultant climate change. This lecture provides a comprehensive overview of advancements in cellulose-based materials, offering sustainable alternatives in composite applications. It will discuss how we could evolve from a linear consumption of raw materials to closed loops with this bio-based source and subsequent technologies.
While the development of eco-friendly materials and closed-loop systems is imperative, it alone falls short of addressing the broader challenge of global warming. A more expansive vision is essential. To counteract rising temperatures and mitigate greenhouse gas concentrations, negative emission technologies become imperative. Introducing the "Mining the Atmosphere" initiative, this proposal envisions utilizing CO2 as a primary raw material. The initiative aims to reverse anthropogenic carbon flow by extracting CO2 from diverse sources, especially the atmosphere, transforming it into e.g. solid carbon, developing innovative carbon-based materials, and establishing new carbon sinks. This holistic approach seeks to make a substantial impact in combating climate change and moving a sustainable path forward.
Bio: Tanja Zimmermann has a Master in Wood Science and Technology from the University of Hamburg and a Master of Advanced Studies in Secondary and Higher education from ETH Zürich. She received her PhD from the University of Hamburg in 2007. Tanja Zimmermann built up the cellulose nanocomposites research topic at Empa as group leader and later on as head of the laboratory "Applied Wood Materials". She became a member of the Directorate of Empa in 2017, leading the department "Functional Materials" as well as the research focus area of "Sustainable Construction" dealing with different materials such as e.g. concrete and asphalt, wood, ceramics, advanced polymer fibers, or energy materials and components. Important for her are topics such as circular economy or resource efficiency and strategies to achieve NetZero goals. Tanja Zimmermann is a member of various national and international committees and scientific advisory boards. She is since June 2022 Director of Empa and Professor for Materials Science at ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne.



Practical information

  • General public
  • Registration required


  • School of Engineering (STI) - Deanship & Institute of Materials


  • Ingrid Fischer et Sylvie Deschamps

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