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Research in Sustainable Energy

Research Projects:

Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos
Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos
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Catalysis for Energy — Nanocrystal Shape Synthesis
Preparation of catalysts at the nanoscale and with specific shapes may be required to improve activity or selectivity of certain reactions important to clean and sustainable energy production. Identifying ways to synthesize nanocrystals by simple and low-cost methods is a current area of research in catalysis in general, and in catalysts for energy applications in particular. >>Read more

Nanoscale Gold Catalysts for the Upgrade of Hydrogen used in Fuel Cells
Fuel processing by steam reforming or partial oxidation is presently used to produce a hydrogen-rich gas stream to feed the low-temperature PEM fuel cells. New catalysts must be developed for this application because the available commercial catalysts do not meet the stringent limitations imposed by the current generation fuel cells and their operating conditions. >>Read more

Regenerable Desulfurization Sorbents for High-Temperature Fuel Cells
Over the past twenty five years, a significant effort has been devoted to the development of regenerable sorbents for the desulfurization of coal-derived fuel gas streams at high temperatures. A main barrier has been the low sorbent structural stability in cyclic operation. Solving this problem would impart improved efficiency and reduce the cost of advanced energy generation processes, such as in Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle and Fuel Cell power plants. >>Read more
Marc Hodes
Marc Hodes
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A Load-Following Thermoelectric Generator
Thermoelectric power generation has been limited to niche applications in remote and hostile environments (such as deep space) where alternative technologies are not viable because of its relatively low heat-to-electricity conversion efficiency. Emerging thermoelectric materials (e.g., superlattices), however, are expected to increase the efficiency of thermoelectric generators to the point where they are commercially viable. >>Read more

Reduced Electricity Consumption Precision Temperature Control of Photonic Components
Thermoelectric modules (TEMs) are solid-state devices capable of providing variable rates of cooling and heating to control the temperature of a photonic component which require precision temperature control to within plus or minus one degree Celsius. Improvement in TEM design will lower the electricity consumption of telecommunications central offices and data centers, which currently consume about 2 percent of the electricity used in the United States. >>Read more
Jeff Hopwood
Jeffrey Hopwood
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Cold Plasma Thin Film Deposition of Photovoltaic Materials on Commodity Substrates
Conventional solar cells are manufactured inside vacuum chambers using low temperature plasma processes. Loading and unloading solar cells from a vacuum chamber forces batch-style processing, which is slow and expensive. Commodity items, however, are typically made using continuous processes such as roll-to-roll coating. >>Read more
Valencia Joyner
Valencia Joyner Koomson
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Energy-efficient Visible Light Communication
The white light-emitting diode (LED) stands at the threshold of a new era of energy-efficient lighting bringing revolutionary advances in the use of light for illumination and a host of other applications, including sensing, navigation, and communications. >>Read more
Vincent Manno
Vincent Manno
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Integrated Data Center Energy Management
Data center electricity consumption now accounts for 2-3% of the US electricity demand and its growth is outpacing nearly all other electrical demand sources. Energy management is not integrated and hence solutions are often sub-optimized because of the lack of integration. >>Read more
Doug Matson
Douglas Matson
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Novel Materials for the Hydrogen Economy
Hydrogen gas has special handling issues and often detrimental effects on certain materials. The focus of this research is on determining the effects of hydrogen on the material properties of metals used in pipes, valves, tanks, and other components and identifying new alloys that can support the future "hydrogen economy." Prof. Anil Saigal and Prof. Gary Leisk are two additional mechanical engineering researchers involved in this project. >>Read more
Tom Vandervelde
Thomas Vandervelde
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Increasing Photovoltaic Conversion Efficiency
By increasing the conversion efficiency of photovoltaic cells we increase the number of total Watts of electricity one gets for a given solar cell. Reducing the cost of generating power through solar, increases the marketability and the general access to this technology. >>Read more

Thermal Energy Harvesting
We are exploring new material and device technologies to create highly efficient thermophotovoltaic cells. Using some techniques that have been applied to infrared cameras, we are able to harness energy from wavelengths that were previously inaccessible. >>Read more
Peter Wong
Peter Wong
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Nanomaterials for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Storage
Although hydrogen has a high energy density by weight, it has a low energy density by volume as compared to hydrocarbon-based fuel cells. Thus, hydrogen storage is one of the bottlenecks for hydrogen fuel cell development since high-pressure compressed gas tanks are large and heavy. In addition, compressing hydrogen to high pressures require energy as well, defeating some of the cost benefits with fuel cells. >>Read more