Welcome to the Combustion and Cogeneration research programme of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE)
Combustion remains the most important process for converting various energy carriers into useful products, such as electricity and heat. Combustible energy carriers meet by far most of final energy demand, both in Switzerland (75 per cent) and throughout the world (85 per cent). At the fore front is the conversion of fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, but the proportion of renewable energy carriers, such as wood and gas- or liquid biofuels, continues to increase. In future, surplus wind or solar generated electricity may be used to produce hydrogen or methane to be used directly or added to natural gas.
The main challenges are a lack of cheap oil and gas resources, CO2 emissions, and pollutants. The objectives of the research programme therefore are to increase efficiency levels, hence reduce consumption and CO2 emissions, and to prevent and eliminate the emission of pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, soot and particulate matter. The programme also aims to adapt and improve combustion systems so renewable combustibles can be used.
The manufacture and deployment of combustion systems is a global business. In Switzerland, combustion research and the industry involved focus on specific aspects of the process, such as numerical simulation of combustion processes, injection systems, combustion in medium-sized to large diesel engines, and high-pressure combustion chambers for gas turbines -- research which is highly respected internationally. The research results and industry products are used in numerous countries, and therefore make a significant global contribution towards the preservation of resources and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2).
Only 3.2% of Switzerland's electricity is generated by cogeneration (CHP) plants. They include predominantly waste incineration plants that produce electricity and heat from waste products as well as a few CHP plants in industrial processes. Compared to other European countries the proportion of electricity generated by combustion engines, which are used to supply energy in buildings or to district heating networks, is very low. There will be a greater need for CHP plants running on fossil fuels and later increasingly on renewable fuels as a result of the planned phase-out of nuclear power and the installation of capacity using variable and seasonally fluctuating energy sources.