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ZHAW graduates receive sustainability awards

Four ZHAW graduates have been awarded for their outstanding theses at the Swiss Green Economy Symposium. With their theses, they have contributed in different ways to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The winners of the SDG Awards
The winners of the SDG Awards from left to right: Markus Weber, Calvin Barmettler, Boris Stankovic and Lukas Jöhri. The awards were presented by Jean-Marc Piveteau, President of the ZHAW.

The motto of this year’s Swiss Green Economy Symposium (SGES) was “Sustainability needs brilliant minds”. Four ZHAW graduates showed that they belong to this category with their three theses. First place went to Markus Weber with his bachelor’s thesis on energy and environmental engineering.

Cargo transport with synthetic fuels?

Using life cycle assessment, Markus Weber investigated the environmental impact of transporting goods by sea and whether it is possible to achieve a set emission reduction in greenhouse gases within a given period of time. To do this, he analyzed an approach, in which synthetically produced fuels such as ammonia, methane, methanol or hydrogen are produced by renewable energies. His life cycle assessment included not only the fuels and their production, but also the means of transport and their propulsion systems. The conclusion: with the technologies widely in use today, the manufacturing processes for synthetic fuels have a comparatively high potential for negative effects on the environment. “The challenge is to further develop the manufacturing methods and the necessary equipment so that their environmental impact is minimized”, says Markus Weber. “Only then can the reduction of both greenhouse gases and the reduction of overall environmental impact be achieved.” The graduate considers pointing out this fact as “his contribution”. Corresponding progress in the production of synthetic fuels would have a positive leverage that should not be underestimated.

Parcel flooding and the circular economy

Second place also went to graduates of the School of Engineering. Calvin Barmettler and Boris Stankovic from the Transportation Systems program tackled the problem of urban parcel flooding in their bachelor’s thesis. Their approach: pick-up stations could reduce transportation trips in parcel delivery. In their work, the graduates researched where so-called microhubs would be optimally placed in Zurich North so that a visit to the parcel station would be encouraged with the use of environmentally friendly non-motorized transport. As transportation planners, the two graduates also want to work professionally for sustainable mobility solutions in the future. Third place went to Lukas Jöhri from the School of Management and Law with his master’s thesis on sustainable circular economy. In it, he pointed out how much potential is currently unutilized that could be exploited by SMEs in particular.