Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

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Development of a
low carbon society
What happens when the oil runs out? Discovering energy & transport
The transport roadshow
Hydrogen and fuel cells
The energy revolution
The Solar experience
Doing more with less
How green are biofuels
Energy painting & drawing activities
Sustainable management
of natural resources
EMEP-GAW Station for atmospheric research
Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR): What we emit into the atmosphere
Biological diversity in Africa: wealth of a continent
Using satellites to draw your name!
The world on screen
Discovering DNA
Volunteered geographic Information
Soil: what would we do without it?
Is our land drying up?
Safety of food
and consumer products
Food safety: functionality, safety and afterlife of packaging
Safety of consumer products and characterization of new textile fibres
Cyclotron, where particles accelerate
Alternative methods to animal testing
Nutrition & health
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Molecular Diagnostics
Security and crisis management
Crisis around the world: how Europe can help using ICT based solutions
Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, pandemics and other disasters: can scientists help?
A day at sea
Never land
Earthquakes: is your house ready for the next one?
Seismologist or earthquake engineer?
Honey, I ran out of radio waves!
What's in my SATNAV?
Do you know what?: there is a small computer in your new passport
Your digital footprint
A technolife
A look in the dark: SESAMONET
Technical facilities
Co-generation plant
General power plant
Water purification plant
Other JRC activities
Reference materials and measurements
Nuclear safety and security
The glove box
Demo trunk for solution monitoring
Double laser curtain
3D laser based verification systems
Safeguards review station
JRC-Ispra dosimetry service and calibration laboratory
Resource management directorate
Ispra Site Management
JRC Ispra Green Team
Other Directorate General and EC Services, European Agencies
Enterprise and Industry DG (ENTR)
Enlargement DG (ELARG)
Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection DG (ECHO)
Information Society and Media DG (INFSO)
Representation of the European Commission in Milan
European School
The European Training foundation (ETF)
Other organisations
ENEA: Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development
Extra activities
Dreaming physics
JRC research activities from the 60' to today
JRC global work shown on a globe & climate change educational exhibition
Scientists are artists too
The territory called JRC - Exhibition
Europa Terzo Mondo
Club Europeo Ispra
The air we breathe and a changing climate: what do they have in
Biodiversity and bio-indication to evaluate the health of the soils
High-Performance Computing: tsunami monitoring
Introduction to High Performance Computing
Soil: the factory under our feet
Everyday radioactivity
How the world sees us
What is sustainability? Your choice!
Nuclear energy the big questions: Is it safe? Is it environmentally friendly? Is it competitive?
Explanations in English
Timetable for laboratory explanations in English

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JRC Ispra Open Day 2011 logo

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What happens when the oil runs out? Discovering energy & transport

Have you ever wondered how a solar panel works, what a fuel cell is, can my car run on olive oil, how much pollution really does come out of an eco friendly car, and will the new power LEDs really make a difference to my electricity bill?

Now is your big chance to experience first hand renewable energy. Can the sun's rays help us to solve our oil dependency, are biofuels really green, and what is more polluting a chainsaw motor or a lorry motor?

The unique JRC discovering energy & transport activities bring together many exciting hands on interactive exhibitions.

ESTI Laboratories – Piazza ESTI

The transport roadshow

See first hand how mopeds, cars and lorries are tested for emissions and efficiency in the JRC's unique facilities. Find out how to produce hydrogen and power your own pollution-free car.

Building 24 – Piazza VELA

Hydrogen and fuel cells

What is hydrogen? What is a fuel cell? What does a hydrogen storage tank look like? Learn how a fuel cell can transform hydrogen into electricity.

Building 24 – Piazza VELA

The energy revolution

Experience how we can connect renewable energy sources to our grid and ensure that there is enough energy at times of peak demand, and how can we store energy at times of low demand.

ESTI Laboratories

The Solar experience

How do solar panels work, hands on solar robots, racing cars and solar boats. See for your self what happens when a hail storm pounds your new solar panels, does it make financial sense to use panels in The Netherlands. Win prizes at the solar quiz and design competitions.

ESTI Laboratories – Piazza ESTI

Doing more with less

Learn about the huge potential Europe has for impressive energy savings. How much energy do we waste in everyday uses, use the interactive energy efficiency touch screen to learn how we can save huge amounts of energy.

ESTI Laboratories – Piazza ESTI

How green are biofuels

Learn hands on what are different types of biomass and what do we need to consider when choosing an environmentally friendly production route.

Building 24 – Piazza VELA

Energy painting and drawing activities

At both the transport and energy demonstrations our youngest visitors, and potential young scientists are also catered for with colouring, painting and drawing competitions.

ESTI Laboratories – Piazza ESTI & building 24

EMEP-GAW Station for atmospheric research

Take a visit to the JRC station for atmospheric research. Running since the mid ‘80s, this regional background station has the longest records of air pollution monitoring with the most advanced instrumentation in Europe. It monitors gases such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen oxides, the concentration and chemical composition of particulate matter, and pollutants in rain. The team working on the project also studies the interaction of sunlight with particulate matter in the whole atmosphere by shooting (eye-safe!) lasers into the sky, in order to gain insights into the role of long range transport on local pollution.

In addition to panels showing the results of the activity and the chance to test their knowledge in the field of climate change and air pollution, visitors will have the opportunity to meet the scientists and ask them specific questions.

Activities will continue throughout the day, in Italian, English and French.

Please note! To get to the EMEP-GAW station you need to catch the shuttle bus at the bus stop located next to ELSA - Building 48


Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR): What we emit into the atmosphere

Most activities and products that we take for granted in our lives cause emissions of pollutant and greenhouse gas by-products to the atmosphere.

The EDGAR team has plotted the history of these emissions from 1970-2008 and their results may surprise you!

See how global atmospheric emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases have developed since 1970 and test your knowledge of the champion polluters and greenhouse gas emitters: how do cows and cars compare?

Activities will be held throughout the day.

Please note! To get to the EMEP-GAW station you need to catch the shuttle bus at the bus stop located next to ELSA - Building 48


Biological diversity in Africa: wealth of a continent

Wetlands, forests, savannahs, grasslands, agricultural-grazing lands and coastal areas - their biological diversity have high economic and social value. Realizing the importance of the links between poverty, ecosystems and biodiversity, the European Union has made significant commitments to halt biodiversity loss in Africa. The JRC contributes to a systematic monitoring system, largely based on earth observation techniques, to identify biological resources and to assess threats resulting from human activities and climate change.

This stand will illustrate the research carried out by the “Global Environmental Monitoring” (GEM) Unit on biodiversity. A 25 m2 land cover map of Africa will be displayed at the stand, on which the public will be challenged to identify animal species and related ecosystems, and to interpret different land cover classes at different places and periods of time, based on satellite imagery. This will help to illustrate the importance of biodiversity, the essential role played by protected areas, the importance of mapping for planning and monitoring purposes, as well as modern mapping techniques from satellite images.

Activities will be held throughout the day, in Italian, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, German and Flemish.

Field via Francia

Using satellites to draw your name!

Satellites in space can be used to help motorists navigate and to take detailed pictures – and to draw your name! We've marked out a field for you to measure, like we do for thousands of farmers each year to check that they are paid the right amount of money for growing crops. However, you can also use the same tools to "write" your name on the ground. Come and give it a try!

Activities will be held throughout the day, in Italian and English

Field Via Irlanda

The world on screen

Come to the MARS tents and play 2 videogames which aim to test your skills and experience in recognizing - on the basis of very high resolution satellite imagery - EU Countries' countryside and the main European crops!

Guess the cereals and types of flour!

Enjoy a funny short movie that helps you understand how farmers' inspections are carried out!

Activities will be held throughout the day, in Italian and English.

Field Via Irlanda

Discovering DNA

What does "environmental genomics" mean? What do we need it for? Why is it considered to be the future and what are the benefits to us?

"Environmental genomics" is the scientific discipline which deals with the genome (also called DNA) to better improve the ecosystem health.

A healthy ecosystem means good health for us. In the past years, the advanced technologies in sequencing the genome allowed early indicators to be developed which can better investigate and predict the effects of pollutants on organisms and help us to better understand their life in the ecosystem.

Come and visit the poster corner! Walk through the "Story of Genome", where you will be able to read and/or listen to the full story of the genome, from the discovery of DNA (1951) to 2011!

Children will be also invited to play with LEGO in order to build the DNA structure.

Activities will be held throughout the day, in Italian, English, German, Portuguese, French, Spanish

Building 27 – Hall

Volunteered geographic Information

The social web is changing the way people create and use information. Geographic information in social networks, such as Twitter or Flickr, can be of enormous help in disaster management. The Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) project continuously monitors such social networks to extract information about disasters.

Open Day visitors can participate in an experiment; instead of reporting disasters they can report sightings of "lost dinosaurs". If you see Maria, Aldo, Ugo, Luca and Anna send an SMS to 339 395 9090. Tell us where he/she is: "Luca is in front of building 26" or "Anna is via Italia near bus stop B". Come along to Room 2, if you have found all 5* you can get a reward!

* only if you send one message for each dinosaur containing the right name and place

Building 36 – Room 2

Soil: what would we do without it?

Without healthy soil, life on Earth would be very different. Soil, like air and water, is one of the world's most important natural resources. But, because it lies beneath our feet and is often hidden from view, we may not think about how much it affects our lives and how much we depend on it.

The soil exhibit will let you explore the world beneath our feet, explain the crucial role played by soil in combating floods, what happens when frozen soil in the Arctic melts, why some soils are under severe pressure and what actions are being taken in the European Union. The exhibit will allow people to view the fascinating creatures that live in the soil and give you the opportunity to win a unique t-shirt and to eat some really tasty earthworms!

Good for everybody, but especially for children!

Activities will be held throughout the day, in Italian, English, French, German, Dutch, Flemish and Greek.

Field via Francia

Is our land drying up?

The loss of land to the desert is a major problem in many parts of the world. This process, known as desertification, is the result of natural processes such as changes in climate and the misuse of land by people (e.g., too many grazing animals that eat all the vegetation, which in turn makes the soils infertile and makes the area vulnerable to erosion). The European Union is a signed member of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

Visit the Bedouin tent to understand what the JRC is doing to help combat dry land degradation and to improve drought monitoring. Use the information that you have gained on the interactive water quiz and dry land sustainable management monopoly experiment!

Don't get too thirsty! Very suitable for children!

Activities will be held throughout the day, in Italian, English, German, French.

Field via Francia

Food safety: functionality, safety and afterlife of packaging

Food safety is fundamental to our health. In JRC we do research on packaging and on kitchenware to check that potentially toxic substances are not released into the food. We are also the European Union Reference Laboratory – our role is to ensure that official control laboratories throughout Europe have efficient methods for verifying the safety of these materials.

Come and see how we test packaging to ensure it keeps the food fresh but are also safe to pack everything we eat. Have a look how we test kitchen utensils and packages and ask the scientists. Take part in the funny quizzes to see if you know your plastics, if you recycle correctly, and why some materials and not others are used for specific foods.

We have plenty of fun finding facts and interactive science for you to take part in and to make you a scientist for a day and a much better informed consumer!

For children (10-18): Be one of our chemists for a day and do a real experiment in our laboratories; you will be doing testing like a food packaging detective and have your own report and certificate.

For the little ones: Play and learn to recognise the packages that go with different foods!

Building 26 – Inside and outside in covered area

Safety of consumer products and characterization of new textile fibres

In the JRC we conduct research on consumer products, such as textile clothing, leather articles and cosmetics, to verify that potentially toxic or allergenic substances are not coming in contact with the skin. In the European Union the composition of textile products must be clearly stated on their label. For that we characterise new textile fibres before they enter the market. This means we prepare and validate test methods, so that in every EU country national authorities can monitor the market using those methods. It also helps to prevent fraud.

Building 28F


Nanobiotechnology is a new scientific area at the crossroads of physics, chemistry and biology. It deals with the development of materials and systems smaller than 100 nanometres, to be used in many different applications such as energy, health, environment or cosmetics. Working at these dimensions allows the production of materials with greatly improved technological properties. But what do we know about potential risks presented by such small materials?

In the JRC we synthesise engineered nanomaterials and prepare them for characterisation. We also study their interactions with living organisms to check their potential impact on human health and environment.

During the laboratory visit, opened to adults and children, we will show a "clean room", movies describing nanomaterials synthesis, cell culture experiments and an overview of instruments enabling the characterisation of materials at the nanoscale.

Building 20

Cyclotron, where particles accelerate

IMPORTANT! Entrance to the facility is not permitted for pregnant women and children under 18 years old.

The cyclotron is a nuclear facility capable of accelerating protons, deuterons and helium nuclei up to energies of 40MeV (million electron volts).

Thanks to its flexibility, the cyclotron is the ideal machine for the production of isotopes for research into new medical radiopharmaceuticals (for diagnosis or therapy). An example is 18F-FDG (Fluor Dioxy Glucose), used for tumour diagnosis, which is produced at the cyclotron in collaboration with General Electric Healthcare, for commercial distribution to hospitals and medical centres. Another research activity concerns the production of radioactive nanoparticles used for JRC projects whih address the safety of industrial nanoparticles.

During the visit to the Cyclotron, you will be given an overview of radioactivity and the uses of radioactive materials. You will also learn how a cyclotron accelerator works and how it can be used to make useful radioactive materials. You will visit the laboratories, with the highlight being a visit to see the cyclotron accelerator itself.

Building 50

Alternative methods to animal testing

Everyday we come into contact with hundreds of chemicals used in all kinds of products. To ensure that these products are safe, toxicity testing is currently performed using animals, which is clearly undesirable for ethical reasons. Also, humans may not always react to toxins in the same way as animals. The European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) aims at replacing the animal tests. In our laboratories, we work on "in vitro" methods where we test the effect of chemicals on cells or tissues. In this way, no animals have to suffer and the tests are often cheaper, faster and based on up-to-date scientific knowledge.

We invite you to visit our laboratory. The visit will help you to better understand how we work with in vitro methods and whether chemicals can affect our livers, lungs, the heart or the brain.

For children: Make a real in-vitro experiment! After a brief introduction to understand how experiments on animals can be substituted with "in vitro" methods (using only cells), children will be invited to do their own experiment. They will colour cells and look at them under a microscope, to discover how the cells react when they are treated with products that children use every day (perfume, soap and toothpaste).

  • Short explanation on working in a real biology laboratory
  • Discuss your experiment with the ECVAM scientists
  • Treat the cells
  • Colour and prepare the cells
  • Observe your experiment under the microscope

Building 58

Nutrition & health

The way we eat, drink or move has a tremendous impact on our health, therefore eating and drinking are moments in our daily life whereby our choices can make a real difference. Because of this, we are sensitive to headlines on food and nutrition in the news, TV, internet, books etc. But is this information always correct and based on current scientific consensus?

In the JRC we review the latest scientific developments in nutritional science, and their applicability and relevance for decision making in the areas of public health policy and nutritional recommendations. We provide independent scientific advice to European Commission Services, EU Institutions and EU Member States in the field of nutritional science.

At our stand, we will talk to you about healthy diets and lifestyle and how to read nutrition information on food labels. The activities are targeted to adults as well as children and adolescents.

Building 20I

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

We are the European Union Reference Laboratory for Genetically Modified Food and Feed – our role is to scientifically assess and validate GMO detection methods for food, animal feed or seeds in the EU's authorisation process. To ensure that genetically modified products available on the European market are safe, the European Commission has established a strict legal framework for their authorisation. These procedures make sure that only the GMOs which have been widely tested and whose safety towards the environment and health has been shown, have been put on the market.

The European law also requires that genetically modified products are labelled in a clear way, so that the consumers can choose what they buy.

During the session, children (adults are also welcome!) will learn what GMOs are and the food produced by genetically modified cultivation. In practical demonstrations and games the JRC scientists will show, for example, how genetic material (DNA) can easily be extracted from vegetables and plants. The procedure used in the analysis of the GMOs will also be explained.

Molecular Diagnostics

From species identification in agriculture to the use of biomarkers for environmental risk assessment, from detection of human diseases to genotyping, molecular diagnostics is gaining an everyday importance. The recent technologies allow to collect, produce and interpret genomic data much faster; this is changing the landscape of life sciences substantially.

During the session a number of interactive games will be used to explain the role of molecular genetic testing in our every day lives.

Come and join us to understand better how our genomes affect our lives, and how life in return affects our genome!

Building 20M

Crisis around the world: how Europe can help using ICT based solutions

The European Union plays a major role in enhancing global stability by preventing crises and reducing their impact, as well as assisting with humanitarian aid, recovery and reconstruction. The JRC provides scientific support in several ways, such as developing methods and tools for assessing post-disaster damage with the help of satellite images, and systems for alerting for disasters, or for detecting new disease outbreaks or violent events.

Come and visit a model "Situation Room" with advanced monitoring and modeling systems. Your kids will be able to simulate an infectious disease, create a tsunami, publish a multi-lingual newsletter and participate in a real eye-tracking experiment. In addition, there is an exhibit on ‘The Force of Nature’ curated by the children of the European School.

Building 68 - Outside

Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, pandemics and other disasters: can scientists help?

Can you identify damaged houses from a real satellite image? Do you know how infectious diseases spread? Do you want to learn about tsunamis? Come and visit us!

We will show you the tools and models developed by JRC's scientists to help reduce the impact of crises in the world. These tools are used by the European Union, the United Nations and many other organisations to prevent crisis, respond to humanitarian disasters or finance reconstruction after a disaster.

You will have the opportunity to participate in exciting experiments to simulate an infectious disease, create a tsunami, publish a multi-lingual newsletter and look for damaged houses in an eye-tracking experiment. In addition, there is an exhibition on 'The Force of Nature' curated by the children of the European School.

Planned talks in the Crisis Room:

  • Japan Tsunami: alerting systems for humanitarian disasters (10:00, 13:00, 16:00)
  • Viewing the fragility of our world from space (11:00, 14:00)
  • The World On-line: how we use the power of the Internet to know what’s going on (12:00, 15:00)

Activity for children

More info: Global Security and Crisis Management website

Building 68 – Inside and Outside

A day at sea

The oceans are wide, mysterious spaces: who knows what is happening beyond the horizon or below the surface? The JRC's Maritime Affairs unit will present unique experiences to discover the oceanic realm.

Come and see how visualising interactions between the oceanic environment and marine fish helps to preserve this endangered natural resource. You will also be able to experience a real ship simulator that gives you control of a ship while navigating the seas, entering harbours, or taking part in rescue operations. Or even try to escape a pirate attack!

Compete in a different simulation game with other players to be the most successful fisher, while taking care that the fish stock is not overfished by your harvesting strategy. Finally, even satellites come into play: ship movements, pre-recorded by sophisticated space-based observation systems, will introduce you to the detection of illegal fishing and counter-piracy measures.

All these activities lead to a better understanding of the marine world, and help to preserve the seas and oceans for future generations.

Building 5A

Never land

Come to Never land to build your raft, sail in the seas to search for pirates and discover how goods travel every day. You can build your small boat with material from the wood, try it in the water and discover various activities from the marine environment. You can search for vessels using satellite images, like the Vessel Detection System (VDS) does. This system may be used in the future to discover positions of potential pirate activity in real time. You can discover the mysterious trips of containers and the amazing locations they visit through the big box quiz. With the help of adults you will color, cut and build a model of a boat.

Activity for children

Building 5A

Earthquakes: is your house ready for the next one?

The recent earthquakes (L’Aquila, Haiti, Chile and Japan) have shown how vulnerable the built environment is even in developed countries and confirmed the need for appropriate design and/or strengthening methods. The JRC's European Laboratory for Structural Assessment (ELSA) possesses one of the largest "reaction walls" to study the effects of earthquakes on full scale structures using the pseudo-dynamic testing method. The structures are fixed to the floor and loaded through hydraulic jacks acting between the structure and the wall.

Two large structures are currently under testing at ELSA, a 3-storey precast industrial structure and a 4-storey reinforced concrete residential building. You will be brought around these structures and you will learn how our activities contribute to a safer built environment in Europe through the development and calibration of European Standards (e.g. Eurocodes). Your children will also enjoy the educational activities proposed in our laboratory!

Building 48

Seismologist or earthquake engineer?

Be a seismologist and discover everything you ever wanted to know about earthquakes: What are they? Why, where and when do they occur? What are their effects on the environment? How are they recorded, measured and located? The answer to these questions will be illustrated by hands-on experiments around the physics of earthquake including fault mechanics, seismic waves propagation, soil liquefaction, tsunami, seismograph and seismogram.

Be an earthquake engineer and learn how to build earthquake-resistant structures? After a brief introduction to the principles of structural dynamics (natural frequencies and modes, resonance phenomenon), you will assemble structures and you will have the opportunity to test them on a small shaking table so as to assess and compare their behaviour when submitted to earthquakes.

In several languages, indicative duration of each activity: 30 min.

Activity for children

Building 48

Honey, I ran out of radio waves!

We have been using radio technology for nearly 100 years. Although we cannot see them, radio waves are all around us: radio, television, cell phone, wireless internet, radar, SATNAV – all depend on different types of waves in the radio spectrum. What looked like a vast radio spectrum 100 years ago, looks very crowded today!

Now that more and more new public services want to use wireless, we are running out of space in the radio spectrum. We will show what can happen if these services start to interfere with each other. What is the solution to bring in new services without harming the existing ones?

Through exhibits, video, demonstration and games we will explain how radio communication works, how to detect interference and what can be done about it. You will be able to experience the use of radio technology: (i) in detecting intruders and (ii) in locating objects precisely.

Building 24- Inside and outside

What's in my SATNAV?

Today Satellite Navigation (SATNAV) is helping millions of people every day in finding their way around when driving from one place to another. Driverless trains and automated airplane landing also depend on safe and precise navigation. Navigation systems themselves depend on very precise clocks. Come and take a closer look at how your SATNAV works. What is behind your SATNAV? Can you see navigation satellites? What happens if they get blocked from the view? How accurately can they find your position? How does your cell phone or bank's ATM depend on the SATNAV system?

The next generation of SATNAV will be based on a new European project – GALILEO. We will explain how the new system will make navigation better: more accurate and more reliable. Through a number of exhibits, demonstrations and games, you will be able to learn and discover the marvels of satellite navigation technology and how it shapes your everyday life.

Building 24 – Inside and outside

Do you know what?: there is a small computer in your new passport

No, you cannot use it to play games or surf the internet... but really, your new passport has a small chip which, through sophisticated cryptography and security protocols contributes to make our travel documents more secure and difficult to forge and, why not, also to make border crossing faster. If you would like to know how it works and see what's inside the chip in your passport, visit us and... don't forget to bring your passport!

Building 36 - Entrance in front of the amphitheatre

Your digital footprint

Are you aware of your digital footprint? You will find out how you unconsciously create digital data when using a public WiFi access point or when carrying around Bluetooth enabled devices. You will also be able to discover the "digital tachograph" used in professional vehicles to keep track of driving hours to enhance safety on European roads.

Building 36 – Outside main entrance

A technolife

A world view that often underpins our opinion about technology is that we humans are in control of both nature and human societies. This entails that technology shall resolve many of the tensions of the human relationship with both nature and (human) society. But can technology resolve those tensions? Are we in control of anything, actually?

Geoengineering and biometrics are two types of technology proposed as fixes for societal and human induced environmental dysfunctions.

They both have to be interrogated for ethical and other societal aspects. What are your concerns, anxieties, hopes, ethical considerations about those?

Geoengineering of climate is about proposals to deliberately manipulate the Earth's climate to counteract the effects of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions [Wikipedia].

Biometrics consists of methods for uniquely recognizing humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical or behavioural traits. In computer science, in particular, biometrics is used as a form of identity access management and access control. It is also used to identify individuals in groups that are under surveillance [Wikipedia].

Building 36 – Outside main entrance

A look in the dark: SESAMONET

Have you ever wondered what difficulties a visually impaired person has to face?

In everyday life there are many actions we carry out automatically without realising how they can be much more complicated for those with a disability.

The disabled usually relies and develops the other senses, but in our chaotic world full of noise, orientation becomes difficult, especially if you want to move autonomously and without the help of a guide dog (they are not allowed everywhere) or an accompanying person.

The SESAMONET system (licence agreement for Italy with Italian Blind Union) enables a person to find his/her way in an unfamiliar environment thanks to the RFID technology (Radio Frequency Identification). For the Open day we have set up a demo path. If you want to let your body "see" and change your perceptions, come and try SESAMONET!

Activity for all - Times available outside building 73

Building 73 - Outside

Co-generation plant

The construction of the Ispra site co-generating plant was completed in 2003. The plant matches the energetic needs (electrical, thermal & refrigerating power) of the JRC site in Ispra. The plant can produce up to 6,2 MW of electrical power, 21,5 MW of thermal power and 5,8 MW of refrigerating power. The configuration implemented allows the contemporary supply of electric power, hot and cold water serving the electrical, heating and cooling needs of the Ispra site. With this integrated system, a high efficiency is obtained (around 80%). Reduction of toxic emissions in atmosphere (NO+, CO2) and saving in fuel consumption, of approximately 30% if compared with the traditional technologies of separate production of electric, thermal and refrigerating power, are reached.

The visit will include a theoretical explanation of the plant operation in the control room and a conducted tour* in the plant were you will see:

  • 4 co-generating units, each one based on an otto-cycle engine with catalyst using natural gas, a boiler for recovering heat from the exhaust gas and an alternator with a transformer
  • 2 absorption coolers, fed with steam and hot water
  • 4 high-efficiency hot water generators in order to integrate the thermal power during cold winter days

* Electromagnetic interference (EMI)! No access to people with pacemakers

Building 59K

General power plant

Electromagnetic interference (EMI)! No access to people with pacemakers

A high voltage line of 130 000V is provided by ENEL to the JRC power plant in Ispra.

You can see all the equipment and transformers which reduce the voltage to 11 000V; then the electrical energy is distributed to the various electrical sub-stations of the JRC Ispra site.

Inside the control room, you will see:

  • the switchboards which lie parallel between ENEL and the co-generation plant
  • the electrical distribution power boxes to the cabins

Our technicians will be available to explain in detail all aspects related to the electrical system.

Building 14

Water purification plant

The water purification plant treats about 480 m³/h to yield a total of 4.2 million m³/yr. It doesn’t only treat the waste water of the Ispra site, but also part of the waste water produced by the Ispra Commune. The cleaned water is discharged in the Torrente Novellino that flows into the "Lago Maggiore". To inactivate viruses and bacteria we use UV-C rays. This ecological disinfection system demolishes, in a natural way, the pathogenic microorganisms making the most of the natural principle of the sun without resort to traditional chemical disinfection methods.

During the guided tour you will see the various components of the purification plant:

  • Pre-treatments: screener, grinding, lifting, sand trapping and flotation
  • Primary treatments: primary sedimentation
  • Secondary treatments: biological oxidation with rotating biologic contactors and secondary sedimentation
  • Final treatment of disinfection with UV rays
  • Treatment and mud's removal

Building 56C/D

Reference materials and measurements

Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (JRC-IRMM) - Geel, Belgium

IRMM is a world-leading developer and provider of materials to make measurements comparable. It has more than 760 different products and distributes around 20,000 of them every year. Testing laboratories use these materials to control the correctness of their measurements, such as contaminants in food. A sample analysed in an Italian laboratory should give the same results as a sample measured in a laboratory in Greece.

Using a series of hands-on experiments, visitors will learn about the importance of accurate measurements, and of having a trustworthy reference point for analytical testing.

Via Irlanda

Nuclear safety and security

Institute for Transuranium Elements (JRC-ITU) - Karlsruhe, Germany

The JRC is a reference centre for policy makers, stakeholders and citizens in the nuclear field.


Nuclear safety and security: The glove box

Visitors will be able to see and experience a demo glove box like those used for handling radioactive material, as well as posters and flyers describing the different nuclear research activities.

Via Irlanda

Nuclear safety and security: Demo trunk for solution monitoring

The reprocessing plants where uranium and plutonium are recovered from spent fuel are amongst the most safeguarded sensitive nuclear plants as they process huge quantities of nuclear material present at some stage as large bulks of highly radioactive solutions.

Process Monitoring Laboratory (PML) has a huge experience in volume and density determination to support the safeguards inspectors to calculate the mass of nuclear material present in the installation tanks.

The demo equipment will allowed the participants to control different means (pumps, siphon…) to transfer water from different types of vessels (annular, slab tank…) like the ones encountered in a real plant and to watch on the display the monitoring of the volume and density of the solution in each tank as the curves empty and fill up.

Via Irlanda

Nuclear safety and security: Double laser curtain

The double laser curtain is to be installed at the entrance of plutonium powder storage. It will be able to detect an entry or exit movement and to categorize such movement e.g. a single person entering or leaving the store, an operator pushing a trolley to transport nuclear material, the use of a forklift truck…

The double laser curtain will be installed on a portal into which people can go. A monitor will display the approximate height of the person and the "profile" detected by the system.

Via Irlanda

Nuclear safety and security: 3D laser based verification systems

Demonstration of 3D laser measurement technologies used to create accurate models of nuclear facilities, indoor and outdoor, and enhance surveillance. Applications of the technology range from verification of design information to physical inventory verification by being able to detect millimetre changes in a facility or storage area.

Via Irlanda

Nuclear safety and security: Safeguards review station

Demonstration of a new software tool developed to assist inspectors in the efficient and accurate review of surveillance video-streams. Its interface allows the user to browse thousands of images by levels of abstractions from change blocks, to sketches, to photographic details.

Via Irlanda

ESSOR: the "nuclear island"

People under 18 and pregnant women are not permitted to enter.

The ESSOR reactor was developed by the Euratom to carry out nuclear research and development. It operated for 15 years until 1983, using heavy water, as both moderator and coolant, and fully enriched uranium. The 25 MW reactor is located in the north-east corner of the JRC in a steel containment 45 metres in height and diameter.

Today the project entails decommissioning of the ESSOR reactor and de-licensing of the site, which includes dismantling and removal of all materials and waste from the nuclear installation.

Building 80

JRC-Ispra dosimetry service and calibration laboratory

The aim of the visit to the JRC-Ispra dosimetry service and calibration laboratory will be to illustrate the measurement techniques which are used to monitor workers exposed to ionising radiation. During the visit a description of radioprotection instrumentation calibration procedures will be also given.

Building 5

Resource management directorate

Managing Resources is our job

Come along and have a chat with our staff!

Learn more about the JRC-Ispra:

  • job opportunities, career development, HR policies and working conditions
  • budget, finance and accounting
  • information technology (IT)
  • legal advice, internal control and data protection

Participate in our interactive open sessions on:

  • selection/recruitment processes at the JRC
  • how you and the JRC can benefit from diversity
  • women & IT
  • data centre & high performance computing
  • paint your mom or dad at work (drawing activity at the stand)
  • diversity hunt: how many languages/nationalities can you find on the Ispra site (Hello, how are you questionnaire)

Via Irlanda – In front of building 6


  • how IT has changed
  • isn't IT fun? With funny photo effects - activity for children

Building 36 – Room 10

We're looking forward to meeting you!

Ispra Site Management

New research buildings

The new research buildings are part of the Strategic Site Development Plan (SSDP), which aims at the renewal and better organisation of the centre. The plan's paramount principle is to concentrate the facilities and to modernise them, rendering the centre more efficient and adequate for the current research activities.

The plan foresees the construction of four buildings to be built in the "Science Zone" located in the middle of the Ispra site.

The first two buildings are dedicated to Environmental Research and to Life Science Research, respectively. Their construction started in April 2010 and it is foreseen that will be completed in autumn 2012. A budget of some €44 million has been allocated to cover the works, the consultancy services (work supervision, safety coordination...) and the furniture, for the two buildings.

The buildings are similar and will have a gross surface of some 13000 m², each, distributed in four levels with offices and lab spaces. It is a design target that the energy consumption of the building is reduced by 20% compared to the best existing EU standard for similar climatic conditions. To this end the buildings will be equipped with a high performance insulation system and with a photovoltaic system.

The works are progressing at a good pace: the first two levels of the structure have been completed, after having consolidated the foundation soil by means of concrete piles.

For safety reasons, entering the construction yard is not allowed, but we have arranged a place close to the fencing where you will be able to have a look at the site. We have also some videos showing the virtual construction, the summary of the real construction up to date and some other experiences in the yard.

Outside - Between building 58A and building 45

JRC Ispra Green Team

The Green Team is a group of staff on the Ispra site which aims to lower the ecological footprint of the site and to raise awareness of staff on environmental matters by organising green actions.

The Green Team organises Ispra site events around the themes of international and national environmental days, such as 'M'illumino di meno', the 'Earth Hour', the 'Earth Day', the 'Commission Green Week', and the 'World Environmental Day'.

The Green Team stand proposes fun environmental activities and games for children and adults. It also provides information about the actions carried out on the Ispra Site in order to obtain the environmental certification according to the international standard ISO 14001.


The green commandments

  • Car pool with your friends or colleagues on the Open Day. Parking space is limited!
  • Respect the nature on site. Use designated footpaths.
  • Do not take material (leaflets, publications etc.) that you are not interested in.
  • Do not throw rubbish on the ground. Use designated waste collection bins provided.

Via Irlanda

Enterprise and Industry DG (ENTR) - Brussels

We mean business – Photo exhibition

Reducing administrative burden, stimulating innovation, encouraging sustainable production, ensuring the smooth functioning of the European Union's internal market for goods, opening up business opportunities in space and security research - these are just a few examples of what the European Commission Enterprise & Industry is doing to create a friendly environment for businesses.

By visiting the stand which will be set during the JRC-Ispra Open Day 2011, public will discover what EU does to boost economic growth by strengthening Europe's industrial and entrepreneurial base and by promoting innovation to meet societal needs. A special glance will be devoted to space research projects.

More information is available at:

Via Irlanda

Enlargement DG (ELARG) - Brussels

Southeast Europe: People and Culture

Picture show

Casa solare

Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection DG (ECHO) - Brussels

'Hidden disaster'

The comic book 'Hidden disaster' was recently published by the EC Humanitarian Aid Department to illustrate the aid given to the victims of natural or man-made disasters.

The book tells the story of an earthquake in an imaginary country and explains how aid and rescue operations work in areas hit by the disaster.

The author Erik Bongers (a well-known Belgian comic artist) will sign his book for comics lovers during the day.

The book can be downloaded or ordered for free in five languages: EN, FR, DE, NL and IT.

Via Irlanda – 11:00-12:00 & 14:00-15:00

Information Society and Media DG (INFSO)

Safer Internet Programme - Empowering and Protecting Children Online

Most European children are online starting with the age of 6. Almost all teenagers have a mobile phone. The Safer Internet Programme aims at empowering and protecting them online by supporting awareness raising initiatives and by fighting illegal and harmful online content and conduct.

The Safer Internet Programme was set up in 1999 and has evolved over the years, taking into account the latest technological developments and their impact on young people's lives.

To empower and protect children online, the Safer Internet Programme:

  • Finances a great variety of projects, all aimed at creating a safer internet online environment for young people;
  • Supports Safer Internet Day;
  • Organizes the Safer Internet Forum;
  • Promotes and supports industry self-regulation;
  • Co-operates at international level with other relevant organizations.

The 2009-2013 Safer Internet Programme, which has a budget of €55 million, is addressing new challenges:

  • The raise of web 2.0 and its fast take-up by young people;
  • Mobile technologies;
  • Harmful conduct like grooming or cyber-bullying;
  • The need for a knowledge base, with children's Internet use and risks may face online.

Via Irlanda

Representation of the European Commission in Milan


Europe is not an abstract and remote entity; it represents all of us with our values of freedom and democracy, with our many local cultural identities, united by the respect towards one another.

The Representation in Milan of the European Commission has an office open to the public, a place to meet the citizens, to answer and provide official documents and to organise visits for schools and groups of people.

The Representation in Milan organises and participates in events to stimulate and facilitate the development of public debate on Europe’s future, policies and reforms and to involve everyone in the project that unites our destinies.

Via Irlanda

European School

The European Schools are official educational establishments controlled jointly by the governments of the Member States of the European Union. In all these countries they are legally regarded as public institutions.

The mission of the European Schools is to provide a multilingual and multicultural education for nursery, primary and secondary level pupils.

There are currently fourteen schools (Alicante, Brussels I (Uccle), Brussels II (Woluwé), Brussels III (Ixelles), Brussels IV (Laeken, opened on the site of Berkendael in September 2007), Frankfurt am Main, Mol, Bergen, Karlsruhe, Munich, Varese, Culham, Luxembourg I & Luxembourg II), in seven countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain and Luxembourg), with a total of approximately 20,000 pupils.

Italy : Varese European School (Ispra) :

Via Irlanda

The European Training foundation (ETF) - Turin, Italy

The European Training Foundation (ETF) is an agency of the European Union. It helps countries surrounding the EU - partner countries - to reform their education and training systems and so bring out the full potential of their people. The ETF is funded from the EU's external cooperation programmes. All its work is designed to maximise the investment in education and training reform in partner countries, in line with EU external relations policies.

Via Irlanda

ENEA: Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development - Ispra, Italy

The ENEA research laboratories in Ispra focus their activities on the development of energy-environmental evaluation of equipment and electrical systems.

ENEA shares National and European projects performing research activities and agency services for the promotion of energy efficiency, energy labeling for end-uses, residential and public lighting and green procurement.

The program includes:

  • Fiscal deductions of 55% for energy renovation of buildings
  • The training courses ENEA – Mesos for schools and professional in PV sector and energy efficiency of buildings
  • Educational and demonstration kit for hydrogen production and use
  • New energy labeling of main household appliances
  • Software "Contawattora" for evaluation of the electric consumption in the household (University of Insubria)

Guided visits of its laboratories for energy and environmental testing of cold appliances (ICELAB) and electric ovens (FIRELAB).

For more information, write to OpenDay2011 [@]

Building 14D

Dreaming physics

Show by Federico Benuzzi

Do you really know what a juggler is? Sometimes there is some confusion about the term. A juggler is not a clown and even less a magician. A juggler practices the art of juggling: the art of manipulating the objects with the intention of doing so. Therefore, a magician and a juggler are two different things. Today you will have the opportunity to discover what a juggler really is: not a clown, nor a magician. Frederico Benuzzi is a juggler but also a teacher of physics and mathematics!

In his new show, he combines the art and science of juggling with his own interpretation of physics and its mathematical description. All we can say is enjoy it!

Building 58C – New Auditorium

2 shows: 11:30 to 12:30 - 14:30 to 15:30

JRC research activities from the 60' to today

Striking pictures and captions show the evolution of the JRC and its research portfolio for over half a century. Starting with the EURATOM treaty (1957) you will see how JRC's research and support work has evolved all the way to the present day, and even beyond! All pictures have short captions of explanation - we encourage you to pop by and see it for yourself.

Building 58C

JRC global work shown on a globe

An illuminated Ø1,6 m globe of planet earth will showcase JRC's work on mitigating the effects of natural and man-made disasters (e.g. tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and fires). It will also show how the JRC monitors global issues (green house gas emissions, deforestation, desertification, etc.). This visual exhibition is dynamic, impressive and is simply a must for all visitors.

Climate change educational exhibition

The visitor will embark on an educational journey about climate change. The first part of the trip will bring the visitor into a dark room showing the 'doom and gloom' side of climate change, what it really is (facts, not fiction) and how it's already affecting planet earth. Showing rising temperatures, melting ice caps and CO2 emissions – this may not be the 'happiest' part of the trip but nevertheless it's a part everyone should take.

Then the visitor will 'enter the light' area of the exhibition. Here, not only will the visitor learn about what the European Commission and the JRC is doing to mitigate Climate Change, she or he will also learn and become aware of what each person can do individually. Energy (solar panels, fuel cells), transport, food/feed and lifestyle behaviour all make up part of this solution-oriented part of the exhibition. Finally, at the very end, you will also be able to leave your comments related to climate change.

Building 36 – Room 3

Scientists are artists too

Photo exhibition

Building 48C - Vecchia mensa

The territory called JRC - Exhibition

It is the aim of this exhibition to represent, in about 40 images, the roles and responsibilities of the unit 'maintenance and utilities' as it goes about its daily work of managing the Commissions assets.

The exhibition will be divided into two sections:

First section - This section will be dedicated to our supply of water from the pumping station on Lake Maggiore to the JRC site. All phases of this cycle will be illustrated, from the process to convert the water supply to drinkable water, supply to laboratories, human consumption, return of water to the treatment plant and then its final discharge back to the lake. Explanatory panels will be included to show the amounts of water taken from the lake and the amount finally returned.

Second section - This section will be dedicated to the conservation of the Commissions assets, with particular reference to the relationship between man, building and environment.

The images in this section will represent the natural areas of the site and the buildings recently refurbished/restructured, with a few references also to existing structures.

In this section we will also illustrate the site electrical energy production facility (co-generation plant).

Building 54/55

Europe Third World - Europa Terzo Mondo (ETM)

This is an independent no-profit organization, founded in 1968 in Brussels by European union staff members for helping people in developing countries to understand the reasons of their under-development and overcome consequences in case of natural disasters.

Europe Third World funds micro-projects in developing countries that are benefiting local people, e.g. in the rural, sanitary, energy fields as well as in the educational domain.

Via Irlanda

Club Europeo Ispra

With over 400 members the Club Europeo Ispra offers:

  • Numerous languages courses at different levels
  • Keep-fit classes, yoga, emotional balancing, aerobics, stretching...
  • Support group for parents with babies (0-12 months) and mothers-to-be
  • Playgroup activities and games for children (1 to 5 years) accompanied by a parent
  • Christmas and Spring parties for children up to age 10
  • Gardening group: for gardening enthusiasts
  • A multi-lingual library with special emphasis on level readers to use in conjunction with the language courses
  • Excursions to places of interest
  • Social coffee meetings: a monthly social gathering
  • Fundraising activities for charities
  • Short courses: drawing, watercolours, workshops...

Via Irlanda


"All in Blues Band", "Coro Europea Cantores" and some JRC colleagues: "Gerard Massimo & Friends", "Ernesto's Friends" and "Streampellers" will perform during the event.

Mensa Stand

The air we breathe and a changing climate:
what do they have in common (in Italian)

The air in our cities contains high concentrations of pollutants which, if inhaled in, can seriously harm human health. At the same time, the climate of our planet is changing and we see the consequences on a daily basis: Heavy precipitation causes damage to people and goods, and there more and more droughts in areas where water shortages are becoming more and more critical.

What do these phenomena have in common? This conference will explore their common causes and the possible solutions for tackling them and for limiting their impacts.

Elisabetta Vignati

Building 36 Amphitheatre – 10:45-11:30

Biodiversity and bio-indication to evaluate the health of the soils
(in Italian)

The use of biodiversity and bio-indicators, in close combination with the awareness of the chemical and physical characteristics of the soil, is an effective approach to better understand the health of the ground under our feet, particularly in areas threatened by human activities.

Roberto Cenci

Building 36 Amphitheatre – 11:30-12:00

High-Performance Computing: tsunami monitoring (in Italian)

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) has been developed by the Joint Research Centre in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in order to alert the humanitarian community of natural disasters events that could lead to humanitarian events (earthquakes and related tsunamis, hurricanes, floods and volcanoes). When a tsunamogenic earthquake occurs, innovative software automatically calculates within minutes the estimated tsunami propagation and sends the alert via sms, e-mail or fax. This piece of software is based on a model that takes into account seismic parameters, such as the earthquake epicentre and magnitude, and pre-calculated potential tsunamis based on their historical locations. The tsunami alert level can be "green" if the wave is lower than 1 m., "orange if it is between 1 and 3 m. and "red" if it is higher than 3 m.

Alessandro Annunziato

Building 36 Amphitheatre – 12:00-12:30

Introduction to High Performance Computing (in Italian)

In the last few years simulation and computing have become remarkably important in science and technology. This is true for both research, academic or industrial, and production.

High Performance Computing gives analysts, engineers and scientists the computation resources they need to make better decisions, fuel product innovation, speed research and development, and accelerate time to market.

Some examples of HPC usage include: decoding genomes, animating movies, analyzing financial risks, streamlining crash test simulations, modelling global climate solutions and other highly complex problems...

Antonio Puertas Gallardo

Building 36 Amphitheatre – 12:30-13:00

Soil: the factory under our feet (in Italian)

What is soil? Where does it come from? How does it keep us alive? How could it change the world’s climate? The battle for life and death under our feet! This spectacularly visual presentation explains in simple terms the critical role of soil in our daily lives.

Ciro Gardi

Building 36 Amphitheatre – 13:00-14:00

Everyday radioactivity (in Italian)

Radioactivity is present in our daily lives. After a brief overview of the physical properties of radioactivity and its interaction with matter, some of the main applications of radioactivity and nuclear energy in the industrial, medical and domestic fields will be introduced.

Daniele Giuffrida

Building 36 Amphitheatre – 14:00-14:30

How the world sees us (in Italian)

Statistical indicators and league tables portray Italy as a country with many problems. Are these measures correct? Is our country really so uncompetitive and non-innovative? Are our universities really so bad? Do our kids really do so poorly in math?

We plot all that can be plotted about Italy and its regions and discuss what Italians should understand and possibly do.

Andrea Saltelli

Building 36 Amphitheatre – 14:30-15:00

What is sustainability? Your choice? (in English 15:00-15:45)

This popular lecture takes the audience on a fascinating journey, discussing and gaining insights into the impacts that our way-of-life and important global developments have on the environment of Europe and our planet as a whole. Using concrete examples from JRC research in Ispra and worldwide, it shows how important the concept of sustainability is for the future of our lifestyle and the options that will remain available for future generations.

The aim is to stimulate interest, dialogue and audience participation. Using stunning images of environmental data and trends, we show how natural resources are limited and need to be intelligently managed. Everybody can make choices. The environmental challenges have triggered a globalisation of scientific effort to an extent never seen before, in a highly interdisciplinary capacity which offers great opportunities for interested youngsters.

Harald Scholz

Building 36 Amphitheatre – 15:00-16:30 (in English 15:00-15:45)

Nuclear energy the big questions: Is it safe? Is it environmentally friendly? Is it competitive? (in Italian)

The presentation will address some of the most commonly held perceptions and misperceptions about nuclear energy. It will also give an up-to-date overview of who is using nuclear energy and where.

Daniele Giuffrida

Building 36 Amphitheatre – 16:30-17:00

Timetable for laboratory explanations in English

Electrical power station
Bldg. 14
10:00–10:30 Your digital footprint
Parking - Bldg. 36
Bldg. 20
10:30–11:00 Technolife
Parking - Bldg. 36
Nutrition and health
Bldg. 20I
11:00–11:30 Climate change: educational exhibition
Bdlg. 36 - Room 3
Genetically modified organisms
Bldg. 20M
11:30–12:00 Volunteered geographic information
Bldg. 36 - Room 2
Seismologist or earthquake engineer?
Bldg. 48
12:00–12:30 Soil: what would we do without it
Via Irlanda Field
Earthquakes: is your house ready for the next one?
Bldg. 48
12:30–13:00 Is our land drying up?
Via Irlanda Field
EMEP-GAW station for atmospheric research
13:00–13:30 Biological diversity in Africa: wealth of a continent
Via Irlanda Field
Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR)
13:30–14:00 Using satellites to draw your name
Via Irlanda Field
How green are biofuels?
Piazza ESTI
14:00–14:30 The world on screen
Via Irlanda Field
The solar experience
Piazza ESTI
14:30–15:00 Co-generation plant
Bldg. 59K
Alternative methods to animal testing
Bldg. 58
15:00–15:30 Discovering DNA
Bldg. 27
Food safety: functionality, safety and afterlife of packaging
Bldg. 26
15:30–16:00 Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, pandemics and other disasters: can scientists help?
Bldg. 68
Hydrogen and fuel cells
Bldg. 24
16:00–16:30 A look in the dark - SESAMONET
Bldg. 73