Department of

Chemical Engineering

Designing molecular technology for the 21st century with biology and chemistry

Fall 2011 Seminars

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A Survey of Nanomaterials for Energy Applications

Randy L. Vander Wal
Associate Professor
The Deptartment of Energy and Mineral Engineering
The EMS Energy Institute
The Materials Research Institute
The Pennsylvania State University

Thursday, November 10th
10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
102 Chemistry Building

With energy at the forefront of the national economy and security energy-directed applications are of particular interest. Not surprisingly, energy and materials are intimately related. Many forms of energy utilization, conversion and storage and generation are dominated by interfacial chemistry. Therein nanomaterials as an interfacial modifier can play a critical role in these processes. Though synthesis of a host of organic and inorganic nanomaterials has been demonstrated, their integration into practical applications remains highly challenging.

This talk will provide an overview of their synthesis, integration and value in energy storage, conservation, transfer, efficiency, control and generation.

Specific energy applications we have explored include the following:

  • Storage: Increased energy density in Li ion batteries and supercapacitors using carbon nanotubes.
  • Efficiency: Reduced friction using nanolubricants between moving parts.
  • Transfer: Improved thermal management using nanofluids in heat transfer applications.
  • Conservation: Lightweight polymeric composites incorporating nanotubes, nanoclays and graphene oxide for vehicle composites.
  • Control: Gas sensors based on nanoscale metal oxide semi-conductors for process control and monitoring.
  • Generation: Catalysts and photocatalysts using nanostructured oxides for accelerated charge transfer and minimal recombination losses.

Highlights in each application will be presented.

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