Email Prof. Flytzani-Stephanopoulos
|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.
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
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
Email Prof. Hodes
|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.
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.
Email Prof. Hopwood
|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.
|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.
Email Prof. Matson
|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.
Email Prof. Vandervelde
|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.
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.