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Nanotechnologies for alternative energy sources

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Creation of cheap efficient nanotechnologies for alternative energy sources

Tech Area / Field

  • NNE-FUE/Fuels/Non-Nuclear Energy

Status
3 Approved without Funding

Registration date
15.08.2014

Leading Institute
Tbilisi State University / Institute of Physics (Ge), Georgia, Tbilisi

Supporting institutes

  • Institute of Machine Mechanics, Georgia, Tbilisi

Collaborators

  • Institute of Catalysis / Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria, Sofia\nThe City University of New York / New York City College of Technology, USA, New York\nCentral Michigan University/Center for Applications in Polymer Science, USA, MI, Michigan

Project summary

The Project aim. It is well known that gas and fuel reserves on the Earth will be soon exhausted under the conditions of current consumption. The intensity of current fuel consumption is determined by industrialization of the mankind. It is impossible to slow down this process. Thus, the only way out is the discovery of alternative energy sources. The most perspective direction on this way is water dissociation into hydrogen and oxygen using the solar energy and the use of the produced hydrogen as fuel, the final product of which, under burning, will be water again, etc. There are two basic methods of the production of hydrogen from water: application of solar energy (photocatalysis) and electric current. (electrolysis). Both these methods have been realized in practice. The task consists in the enhancement of efficiency and cheapening of the final product.
The aim of the Project is the elaboration of new methods for radical enhancement of the efficiency of production of hydrogen from water by using solar energy.
Current status. Currently the energy of UV region of the solar radiation is generally used in photocatalysis, because there are no photocatalysts capable of using the visible light for this purpose, which is theoretically feasible. On the other hand, the share of UV light in the solar radiation reaching the Earth is just about 4 %. Hence, it is evident that the solution of the problem of using the visible light in photocatalysis, and even some advance in this trend, is of great importance.
The project’ influence on progress in this area. The objective of the Project is the enhancement of photocatalytic reaction efficiency by engaging the energy of visible light in the catalytic process. The aim will be achieved by the development of new cheap efficient nanotechnologies of the external influence on photocatalysts allowing to enhance the visible light absorption and hence its inclusion into the photocatalytic process, which will lead to the cheapening of the hydrogen fuel production.
The participants’ expertise. The Project participants are proficient at nanotechnologies of nanopowders and nanofilms, which is supported by their publications in authoritative international journals and participation in International Conferences. They elaborated a unique method of electroless deposition of nanoclusters on nanoparticles, which is one of the important stages in fabrication of photocatalysts. They revealed those factors affecting the photocatalysts that increase the visible light absorption. In the project, the optimization of the impact of these factors and their simultaneous action on the photocatalysts for achieving the synergetic effect is envisaged. The Project participants are also proficient at investigation of the properties of various substances, including different nanoobjects, by optical, EPR, NMR, magnetometric, X-ray analysis, computer simulation and other methods.
Expected results and their application. In the result of implementation of the Project, based on the obtained preliminary results, new laboratory methods will be elaborated and the corresponding modes will be established, which will allow producing the new photocatalysts capable of using the solar energy more efficiently and increasing twice as much the hydrogen output. The properties of these photocatalysts will be studied, which may be of scientific importance for more complete use of solar energy for hydrogen production.
The obtained results could be used to improve the available technologies of hydrogen production, in the future to design a hydrogen minireactor providing its owner with free environment friendly fuel (hydrogen) for their cars, for ecological purposes, for instance, for water and air purification, in the production of high-quality paints, in perfumery etc.
Meeting the ISTC goals and objectives. As the specialists possessing knowledge in the field of the weapons of mass destruction participate in the Project, while the Project itself is of peace orientation, it completely complies with the ISTC objectives.
Scope of activities. In the scope of the Project, the following main tasks will be implemented: the deposition of clusters from different substances on nanoparticles of different photocatalysts, exposure of the photocatalyst nanoparticles to different external factors under different conditions, a complex physicochemical investigation of the properties of nanoobjects by different methods, calculations and computer simulation.
Role of Foreign Collaborators/Partners. The participation of foreign scientists as collaborators is provided. This will promote international scientific contacts. The information exchange with the collaborators about the course of the Project, joint discussions of the obtained results and joint use of the unique installations is foreseen. Foreign scientists will present comments on the reports sent to the ISTC.
Technical approach and methodology. The following approaches and methods developed by the Project participants will be used: a unique cheap method of deposition of clusters on photocatalyst nanoparticles, complex exposure of photocatalysts to external factors for achieving a synergetic effect, that increase their absorption of visible light, a thorough physicochemical investigation of the properties of photocatalyst nanoparticles before and after treatment by optical, EPR and NMR methods. The morphology and phase composition will be studied by using a scanning electron microscope SEM (DSM-960, OPTON, Germany), an X-ray microanalyzer, Auger spectrometer (LAS-2000, RIBER, France) and X-ray diffractometer HZG-4/A-2.
Magnetic measurements will be carried out using a vibrating sample magnetometer - VSM (Cryogenic Limited, UK) allowing one to perform magnetization measurements in a wide temperature range of 1.7 ÷ 293 К and in magnetic fields up to 5 T.
IMM
Among the problems of hydrogen energy, special attention is paid to formation of hydrogen by electrolysis, because it is the most environment friendly method, and so is the obtained product. Low-temperature electrolysis of water is one of important methods. Nowadays the main goal of this method is to decrease the electric power expenses and to increase the hydrogen output. The solution of this problem is associated with the hydrogen and oxygen overvoltage on the electrodes, which are the most expensive parts of the electrolyzers. The value of the over-voltage depends on the nature of the electrode material. Currently the tendency of replacing the traditional electrode materials (platinum, nickel, iron etc.) with cheaper (e.g. carbon) ones, which have many positive properties, predominates.
It is known that electrolysis is characterized by formation of hydrogen, the amount of which essentially depends on the electrolytic cell capacity. Usually the electrodes of electrolyzers are metallic. Besides having high conductance, they have some drawbacks: 1) formation of the product directly depends on the electrode surface; therefore its area limits the amount of the obtained product; 2) electrodes (except noble metals) undergo corrosion; 3) high specific weight; 4) relatively high cost. Hence, the designing of the electrodes of new types without the abovementioned drawbacks is a topical problem.
The presented Project foresees the designing of new conductive nanomaterials using the annealed polymer blends and composites containing fiberglass and other mineral nanopowders as reinforcing fillers. Using a specially elaborated technology of heat treatment of start composites, new conductive materials with specific volumetric electrical resistance, the values of which change in the range of 10-6-104 Ohm·m and mechanical strengthening (under compression) in the range of 10-40 MPa were obtained. These materials are characterized by high degree of porosity with average dimensions of pores 10-500 nm and with the density of obtained materials 0.5-1.5 g/cm3. New electrode materials are stable at their keeping both in nitric acid and in alkali. The geometrical shapes and dimensions of electrode materials may be varied in a wide interval of corresponding values depending on the dimensions of the heat treatment apparatus. One of important properties of these electrodes is the possibility of obtaining the nanoparticles as precipitates-catalysts in the pores, which promotes the intensity of formation of the desirable product - hydrogen in comparison with the electrolyzers the electrodes of which are made of different metals. Due to porous surfaces of nonmetallic electrodes participating in the electrochemical reactions, an increase in their effective area leads to an essential increase in the hydrogen output. The pyrolyitic carbon electrodes allow decreasing the voltage between the anode and the cathode by decreasing the gas-filling process. The electrolyzers with such electrodes provide the decrease in the voltage sum at the electrolyzer and hence the formation of hydrogen at low energy consumption.
Project participants on creating electrode materials and method of producing hydrogen by electrochemical methods have extensive experience in the field of materials and electrochemical processes in planning. One of the authors is the author of monograph, published in New York, on electrically conductive polymer compositions. They participated in many international conferences. The participants have elaborated some original polymer materials, e.g. composites with relay effect, electrical conducting materials with n- and p-types and with conductivity in the range from insulators to half-metals, friction and anti-friction materials without asbestos.


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The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.

 

ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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