Funding Fuels Search for Nanotech Energy Solutions
$1.25 Million Project Seeks Environmentally Friendly Way to Store Electricity
Nov. 1, 2010
The 1-year-old Institute for Intelligent Energy Systems at UT Dallas has received its first major research grant: a one-year, $1.25 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to explore the use of nanotechnology in electrical energy storage.
Storage is a particularly important issue in renewable energy, enabling power generated from wind, solar and other sources to be held until needed. And the award is an important validation of the fledgling center, according to its director.
“We assembled a great multidisciplinary, inter-institutional team, and I think this bodes well for the center’s success at generating important results in one of the most pressing areas of our time,” said Dr. Bob Helms, who is also a professor of electrical engineering and was previously dean of the University’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.
The goal of the project is to develop a fundamental understanding of how nanostructured materials can be used to improve all aspects of electrical storage, from energy density to power density to energy stored per dollar.
“We will work toward developing solid-state electrical energy storage that is more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than current technologies such as lead-acid, lithium-ion or sodium-sulfide batteries,” Helms said.
The project is designed to produce a fundamental understanding of energy storage and recovery mechanisms based on rational analysis of nanostructured materials’ properties. Among the specific aspects of energy storage that the research team will explore are:
- The limits of selected nanomaterial capacitors for energy storage.
- Development of a control-oriented battery model for wind-energy storage.
- A next-generation design for a wind-energy battery storage control system.
- Development of materials such as graphene oxide and metal organic frameworks for electrical energy storage.
The project will include UT Dallas experts in materials science, mechanical engineering and chemistry, and it will add an integrated energy storage module to a residential testbed being constructed at The University of Texas at Tyler to evaluate low-energy-use air quality systems.