AREA 1- ENERGY
Fossil-based energy sources such as coal, oil and natural gas have motorized most of the advanced world’s infrastructure and technology for the past century. Replacing these energy sources with renewable substitutes is key to maintain the growth of modern world. Two key reasons for this transition are — (i) The possessions of fossil fuels – especially crude oil – are inadequate to the extent that they will eventually come to an end. (ii) Fossil fuels enhance the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which may already be having many derogatory effects on the earth’s climate.
The projects in this area seek to develop nano-materials in 3 energy applications: Hydrogen Storage, Fuel Cells, and Solar Cells. More than 10 patents have been filed related to novel nano-materials in these applications.
HYDROGEN STORAGE & FUEL CELLS
The term "hydrogen economy" is used to describe a world economy in which hydrogen will be the primary form of energy for motive power and energy storage. Hydrogen offers an environmentally cleaner source of energy, without release of pollutants, such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, compared to hydrocarbon fuels. The hydrogen storage and fuel cells projects are aimed at developing the hydrogen market.
Solar radiation is one of the most promising alternative resources of energy, mainly because of its abundance and reliability. Therefore, harvesting energy directly from sunlight using photovoltaic technology is considered as being one of the most significant ways to address growing global energy requirements using a renewable resource. Solar cells are devices which convert solar energy directly into electricity, and significant strides have been taken to improve the performance of these devices, especially based on silicon. Although silicon-based solar cells exhibit some of the highest power conversion efficiencies (close to 30%), they remain expensive because of the intensive processing techniques and the high cost of purified silicon. This also infers a need to fabricate low cost, high performance materials in building solar cell which can address the issue of financial and refining demands.