Wednesday, May 30th: Day 12

After our very accommodating 4 day stay in Freising the gang headed off towards the Swiss Milling School in the city of St. Gallen, Switzerland. The drive took a little over 4 hours mostly due to avoiding the infamous toll roads in Austria (2 days earlier the group headed to the Eagle’s Nest was fined 120 Euro per van because we were unaware of the toll pass needed to travel Austria’s autobahn!). The group was able to see in the infamous Lake Constance, which is bordered by three different countries: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Upon arrival to the Swiss Milling School we were greeted by Michael Weber and Tobias Nanni who provided a well needed snack and Nespresso! We then toured the quaint but state-of-the-art milling school welcoming students from all over the world including three past students from K-State. The school focuses not only on milling technology but includes studies on dough rheology and baking. This is an important aspect for millers to understand since quality flour is needed for quality bread. Additionally, milling students receive hands-on training by traveling to nearby Uzwil where a full scale Buhler mill is located. For lunch we smashed on different specialty pizzas prepared by Matias in the in-house baking lab. The group then split up, 4 students headed towards Zurich for a visit to the Paul Scherrer Institute while the others traveled to Goldach to tour the Bruggmuehle flour mill.

Aerial view of PSI. The donut shaped structure is the synchrotron.

The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) is a federal research center for the natural and engineering sciences focusing mainly on the fields of Matter and Materials, Human Health, and Energy and the Environment. PSI is the largest research institute in Switzerland housing large-scale facilities such as the Swiss Light Source synchrotron which is a large electron accelerator used to produce x-rays utilized by various research groups for determining the structures of materials down to nanometers in size and a Spallation Neutron Source used for further imaging materials not penetrable by x-rays such as lead and other heavy metals. The students went on a guided tour learning about the various research areas within renewable energy such as fuel cell technology and solar energy harvesting. The tour showed a large-scale solar concentrator able to produce the necessary energy needed for producing lime (calcium hydroxide). The solar concentrator looks similar to a large conical mirror that works by focusing sunlight into a small focal point, similar in principal to using a magnifying glass to start a fire on a sunny day. This large-scale concentrator was able to focus enough solar energy to generate temperatures up to 3,000 degrees Celsius! From this heat, researchers were able to demonstrate the ability of the sun to not only produce lime but also melt concrete blocks.

Solar concentrator

The group reconvened back in St. Gallen for a wonderful dinner hosted by the Swiss Milling School. Many members of the group were able to try a traditional dish from Switzerland called rösti which consisting of hash browns topped with cheese, meats and other delicacies. The group crashed back at the Youth Hostel, a first experience for many that included rooms filled with multiple bunk beds and community showers on each floor.

Interesting artistic creation in downtown St. Gallen.

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