MSE 494/598 Nanomaterials in Energy Production and Storage

It is now recognized that the key to solving the energy problems of the future rests in part on developing new classes of functional materials that will contribute to energy production and storage.  The purpose of this course is to establish a connection between nanomaterials, energy production/storage and the environment. The course will emphasize the relationship between fundamental materials properties, chemical and energy transformation as well as energy storage. Applications will include the role of materials for photovoltaics, nanocatalysts, batteries and fuel cells. The course will stress fundamental principles and charge transfer processes in nanostructured materials in addressing energy needs. Students completing the course will have an appreciation of the critical role of materials in addressing the pressing need for developing sustainable and environmentally friendly energy.

Course Learning Objectives/Competencies

Course will help students develop a fundamental understanding of the functionality in nanomaterials structures related to energy. Students will gain knowledge of following topics:

1.  Global Energy Utilization – energy utilization and human development index, energy production today, environmental impacts, climate change, supply issues and Hubbert curve,  future demands, energy intensity, thermodynamic considerations.

2. Fundamentals of Active Nanostructured Materials– Structure and properties of bulk materials surfaces, nanoparticles and nanoparticle surfaces, basic wave mechanics, electronic structure of nanoparticles.

3. Catalytic Nanomaterials and Chemical Transformation –  Chemical fuels, energy related reactions, introduction to heterogeneous catalysts, performance parameter for nanocatalysts, surface area, activity, selectivity, chemical kinetics, active sites, chemisoption, adsorption isotherms, Sabatier principle, molecular activation and interaction with surfaces, d-band model, dissociation and activation barriers

4. Solar Energy Productionthe solar resource, solar thermal, thermo-electric, photon excitation in semiconductors, electron-hole pairs, photocatalysis,  photovoltaics – current-voltage characteristic, Shockley-Queisser efficiency, n and p-type doping in semiconductors,  charge carrier concentration, majority and minority carriers, p-n junction, depletion layer and electron hole pair separation, band structures and photon absorption in Si and GaAs, materials parameters for single crystal solar cells, organic photovoltaics

5. Materials for Energy Storage –electrical storage, batteries and capacitors,  battery principles and architectures, electrochemical potential, Nernst equation, Gibbs free energy, charging and discharging profiles, batteries and nanomaterials

6. Fuel Cells – architectures, thermodynamics, current-voltage characteristics, kinetic losses, proton exchange membrane (PEM) cell, electrolyte materials, electrode structure and catalysts, thermodynamics of heat engine/fuel cell combinations, solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC)