Empa is the interdisciplinary research and services institution for material sciences and technology development of the ETH Domain.
Empa’s Technology and Society Lab (TSL) aims at creating and transferring knowledge to support the transition to a more sustainable society. It does so by
• analysing novel materials and emerging technology applications with a focus on associated material and
energy stocks and flows,
• evaluating them with regard to both natural environment and societal constraints, and
• providing guidance for the implementation of more sustainable materials, technologies and sociotechnical
Within TSL, four research groups contribute to reach the goals of the Lab:
• The Advancing Life Cycle Assessment (ALCA) group further develops the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology to better support early phases of technology development and to address environmental and societal implications of novel material and emerging technology applications.
• The Critical Materials and Resource Efficiency (CARE group addresses the implications of novel material and emerging technology applications on society’s material metabolism with a particular focus on closing material cycles.
• The Environmental Risk Assessment and Management (ERAM) group models, evaluates and experimentally investigates the interactions of novel materials with the environment.
• The Informatics and Sustainability Research (ISR) group develops computational models, algorithm-based methodologies and information systems to support the assessment of emerging technology applications.
Dr. Patrick Wäger is the Head of Empa’s Technology & Society Laboratory. He studied organic, bio-organic and analytical chemistry at ETH Zurich, where he also received his PhD, as well as philosophy and sociology at the University of Zurich. Patrick’s research interests are circular economy, critical raw materials, emerging technologies, societal metabolism, and sustainability transitions. Amongst others, he is leading work package 2 of the EU H2020 project “Prospecting Secondary Raw Materials in the Urban Mine and Mining Wastes” (ProSUM). Patrick is Swiss National Delegate and Management Committee member of the COST Action “Mining the European Anthroposphere” (MINEA), member of the steering group “Sustainable use of limited resources” of the Swiss Academies of Science, member of the managing board of the Swiss Academic Society for Environmental Research and Ecology (saguf) and Chair of its working group “Integrative Research on Natural Resources”.