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  • richardmitnick 9:44 am on February 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Tuning Electrode Surfaces to Optimize Solar Fuel Production", , Bismuth vanadate, , Clean Energy, Combining STM and LEIS allowed the scientists to identify the atomic structure and chemical elements on the topmost surface layer of this photoelectrode material., , Interfacial energetics, LEIS-Low-energy ion scattering spectroscopy, Photoelectrochemical performance, Photoelectrodes, , , The experimental and computational results both indicated that the bismuth-rich surfaces lead to more favorable surface energetics and improved photoelectrochemical properties for water splitting., X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy   

    From DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory(US): “Tuning Electrode Surfaces to Optimize Solar Fuel Production” 

    From DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory(US)

    February 18, 2021
    Ariana Manglaviti
    amanglaviti@bnl.gov
    (631) 344-2347

    Peter Genzer
    genzer@bnl.gov
    (631) 344-3174

    An electrode material with modified surface atoms generates more electrical current, which drives the sunlight-powered reactions that split water into oxygen and hydrogen—a clean fuel.

    1
    Through a tight coupling of experiment and theory, scientists showed at the atomic level how changes in the surface composition of a photoelectrode play a critical role in photoelectrochemical performance.

    Scientists have demonstrated that modifying the topmost layer of atoms on the surface of electrodes can have a remarkable impact on the activity of solar water splitting. As they reported in Nature Energy on Feb. 18, bismuth vanadate electrodes with more bismuth on the surface (relative to vanadium) generate higher amounts of electrical current when they absorb energy from sunlight. This photocurrent drives the chemical reactions that split water into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen can be stored for later use as a clean fuel. Producing only water when it recombines with oxygen to generate electricity in fuel cells, hydrogen could help us achieve a clean and sustainable energy future.

    “The surface termination modifies the system’s interfacial energetics, or how the top layer interacts with the bulk,” said co-corresponding author Mingzhao Liu, a staff scientist in the Interface Science and Catalysis Group of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN)[below], a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory. “A bismuth-terminated surface exhibits a photocurrent that is 50-percent higher than a vanadium-terminated one.”

    “Studying the effects of surface modification with an atomic-level understanding of their origins is extremely challenging, and it requires tightly integrated experimental and theoretical investigations,” said co-corresponding author Giulia Galli from the University of Chicago(US) and DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory(US).


    “It also requires the preparation of high-quality samples with well-defined surfaces and methods to probe the surfaces independently from the bulk,” added co-corresponding author Kyoung-Shin Choi from the University of Wisconsin–Madison(US).

    Choi and Galli, experimental and theoretical leaders in the field of solar fuels, respectively, have been collaborating for several years to design and optimize photoelectrodes for producing solar fuels. Recently, they set out to design strategies to illuminate the effects of electrode surface composition, and, as CFN users, they teamed up with Liu.

    “The combination of expertise from the Choi Group in photoelectrochemistry, the Galli Group in theory and computation, and the CFN in material synthesis and characterization was vital to the study’s success,” commented Liu.

    Bismuth vanadate is a promising electrode material for solar water splitting because it strongly absorbs sunlight across a range of wavelengths and remains relatively stable in water. Over the past few years, Liu has perfected a method for precisely growing single-crystalline thin films of this material. High-energy laser pulses strike the surface of polycrystalline bismuth vanadate inside a vacuum chamber. The heat from the laser causes the atoms to evaporate and land on the surface of a base material (substrate) to form a thin film.

    “To see how different surface terminations affect photoelectrochemical activity, you need to be able to prepare crystalline electrodes with the same orientation and bulk composition,” explained co-author Chenyu Zhou, a graduate researcher from Stony Brook University working with Liu. “You want to compare apples to apples.”

    As grown, bismuth vanadate has an almost one-to-one ratio of bismuth to vanadium on the surface, with slightly more vanadium. To create a bismuth-rich surface, the scientists placed one sample in a solution of sodium hydroxide, a strong base.

    “Vanadium atoms have a high tendency to be stripped from the surface by this basic solution,” said first author Dongho Lee, a graduate researcher working with Choi. “We optimized the base concentration and sample immersion time to remove only the surface vanadium atoms.”

    To confirm that this chemical treatment changed the composition of the top surface layer, the scientists turned to low-energy ion scattering spectroscopy (LEIS) and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) at the CFN.

    In LEIS, electrically charged atoms with low energy—in this case, helium—are directed at the sample. When the helium ions hit the sample surface, they become scattered in a characteristic pattern depending on which atoms are present at the very top. According to the team’s LEIS analysis, the treated surface contained almost entirely bismuth, with an 80-to-20 ratio of bismuth to vanadium.

    “Other techniques such as x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy can also tell you what atoms are on the surface, but the signals come from several layers of the surface,” explained Liu. “That’s why LEIS was so critical in this study—it allowed us to probe only the first layer of surface atoms.”

    In STM, an electrically conductive tip is scanned very close to the sample surface while the tunneling current flowing between the tip and sample is measured. By combining these measurements, scientists can map the electron density—how electrons are arranged in space—of surface atoms. Comparing the STM images before and after treatment, the team found a clear difference in the patterns of atomic arrangements corresponding to vanadium- and bismuth-rich surfaces, respectively.

    2
    The multiprobe surface analysis system in the CFN Proximal Probes Facility.

    “Combining STM and LEIS allowed us to identify the atomic structure and chemical elements on the topmost surface layer of this photoelectrode material,” said co-author Xiao Tong, a staff scientist in the CFN Interface Science and Catalysis Group and manager of the multiprobe surface analysis system used in the experiments. “These experiments demonstrate the power of this system for exploring surface-dominated structure-property relationships in fundamental research applications.”

    Simulated STM images based on surface structural models derived from first-principle calculations (those based on the fundamental laws of physics) closely matched the experimental results.

    “Our first-principle calculations provided a wealth of information, including the electronic properties of the surface and the exact positions of the atoms,” said co-author and Galli Group postdoctoral fellow Wennie Wang. “This information was critical to interpreting the experimental results.”

    After proving that the chemical treatment successfully altered the first layer of atoms, the team compared the light-induced electrochemical behavior of the treated and nontreated samples.

    “Our experimental and computational results both indicated that the bismuth-rich surfaces lead to more favorable surface energetics and improved photoelectrochemical properties for water splitting,” said Choi. “Moreover, these surfaces pushed the photovoltage to a higher value.”

    Many times, particles of light (photons) do not provide enough energy for water splitting, so an external voltage is needed to help perform the chemistry. From an energy-efficiency perspective, you want to apply as little additional electricity as possible.

    “When bismuth vanadate absorbs light, it generates electrons and electron vacancies called holes,” said Liu. “Both of these charge carriers need to have enough energy to do the necessary chemistry for the water-splitting reaction: holes to oxidize water into oxygen gas, and electrons to reduce water into hydrogen gas. While the holes have more than enough energy, the electrons don’t. What we found is that the bismuth-terminated surface lifts the electrons to higher energy, making the reaction easier.”

    Because holes can easily recombine with electrons instead of being transferred to water, the team did additional experiments to understand the direct effect of surface terminations on photoelectrochemical properties. They measured the photocurrent of both samples for sulfite oxidation. Sulfite, a compound of sulfur and oxygen, is a “hole scavenger,” meaning it quickly accepts holes before they have a chance to recombine with electrons. In these experiments, the bismuth-terminated surfaces also increased the amount of generated photocurrent.

    “It’s important that electrode surfaces perform this chemistry as quickly as possible,” said Liu. “Next, we’ll be exploring how co-catalysts applied on top of the bismuth-rich surfaces can help expedite the delivery of holes to water.”

    The work by Choi and Galli was supported by the National Science Foundation and used computational resources of the University of Chicago’s Research Computing Center. The work at the CFN was supported by the DOE Office of Science and carried out in the Materials Synthesis and Characterization and Proximal Probes Facilities.

    See the full article here .


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    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)(US), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:23 pm on February 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "$1 million funding for hydrogen vehicle refueller", A major barrier of hydrogen refuelling becoming a fuel source for cars and trucks is how to refuel and the lack of refuelling infrastructure., , As Australia considers energy alternatives we know hydrogen is clean and will be cost-competitive., Clean Energy, CSIRO is engaging with vehicle companies such as Toyota Australia to support the future adoption and supply of FCEVs in Australia., CSIRO will receive more than $1 million towards the development of a refuelling station to fuel and test hydrogen vehicles., CSIRO's national Hydrogen Industry Mission is estimated to create more than 8000 jobs, CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU), , Hydrogen refuelling will generate $11 billion a year in GDP and support a low emissions future., Swinburne's strong partnership with CSIRO means that we will be able to build on our focus of digitalisation and Industry 4.0., The refueller project will demonstrate a fleet trial for CSIRO hydrogen vehicles with the potential for expansion., The refuelling station at CSIRO's Clayton campus in Victoria is a key milestone in the development of CSIRO's national Hydrogen Industry Mission which aims to support Australia's clean hydrogen indust, VH2 is designed to bring researchers; industry partners; and businesses together to test; trial and demonstrate new and emerging hydrogen technologies.   

    From CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU): “$1 million funding for hydrogen vehicle refueller” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU)

    07 Feb 2021

    Nick Kachel
    Communication Advisor
    +61249606206

    CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has welcomed Victorian government funding that will enable it to partner with Swinburne University of Technology to establish the Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2).

    1
    The proposed refuelling station at Clayton.

    2
    Some of the features of the refuelling station.

    VH2 is designed to bring researchers, industry partners and businesses together to test, trial and demonstrate new and emerging hydrogen technologies.

    Under the partnership, CSIRO will receive more than $1 million towards the development of a refuelling station to fuel and test hydrogen vehicles.

    The refuelling station, to be located at CSIRO’s Clayton campus in Victoria, is a key milestone in the development of CSIRO’s national Hydrogen Industry Mission, which aims to support Australia’s clean hydrogen industry – estimated to create more than 8000 jobs, generate $11 billion a year in GDP and support a low emissions future.

    “As Australia considers energy alternatives, we know hydrogen is clean and will be cost-competitive – but a major barrier to it becoming a fuel source for cars and trucks is how to refuel, and the lack of refuelling infrastructure,” CSIRO Executive Director, Growth, Nigel Warren said.

    “The refueller is a significant step towards removing that barrier.”

    Construction will take place as part of the development of VH2 – a new hydrogen production and storage demonstration facility, where CSIRO, Swinburne and their partners will test ‘real world’ uses for hydrogen technology.

    “We thank the Victorian government for supporting VH2 which, combined with the refueller, will allow us to test emerging hydrogen technologies,” Mr Warren added.

    Swinburne University of Technology’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Pascale Quester said the University was excited by the development.

    “We are grateful for the Victorian Government for their support,” Professor Quester said.

    “The Victorian Hydrogen Hub will be another demonstration of how we can bring people and technology together to create a better world.

    “Swinburne’s strong partnership with CSIRO means that we will be able to build on our focus of digitalisation and Industry 4.0, and support industry to enhance its understanding of what hydrogen can deliver.”

    The refueller project will demonstrate a fleet trial for CSIRO hydrogen vehicles with the potential for expansion, providing refuelling opportunities to other zero emission Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) in the local area.

    “We are proud to be investing in this forward-looking initiative, the kind that will help build a smarter Victoria and help respond to climate change,” Victorian Minister for Higher Education, Gayle Tierney said.

    CSIRO is engaging with vehicle companies such as Toyota Australia to support the future adoption and supply of FCEVs in Australia.

    “Toyota Australia is delighted to support the development of this new hydrogen refuelling station in Victoria with next-generation Mirai FCEVs,” Toyota Australia’s Manager of Future Technologies, Matt MacLeod said.

    “This is a significant step towards having the necessary refuelling infrastructure to help grow hydrogen opportunities in Australia.

    “We look forward working closely with CSIRO and their partners on this exciting project.”

    About the emerging Hydrogen Industry Mission

    CSIRO announced a program of national missions in August 2020, aimed at solving some of Australia’s greatest challenges.

    Missions are currently being developed.

    The Hydrogen Industry Mission aims to help Australia work out how to scale up domestic hydrogen supply and demand for a low emissions future, and support our hydrogen energy export industry.

    The mission builds on CSIRO’s National Hydrogen Roadmap which shared the opportunities for Australia’s clean hydrogen industry.

    CSIRO is currently engaging with and inviting advisory, funding, R&D and translation partners to work collaboratively on initiatives.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU), is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:36 am on February 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New tool at Sandia brings some West Texas wind to the Duke City — virtually", A new custom-built wind turbine emulator has been installed at Sandia’s Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory., , Clean Energy, , , Faster research through innovation., New wind turbine motor, Sandia’s Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory, Sandia’s Renewable Energy and Distributed Systems Integration program., The emulator consists of a scaled-down wind turbine motor and uses much of the same hardware and software that control actual turbines.   

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories: “New tool at Sandia brings some West Texas wind to the Duke City — virtually” 

    From DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories

    February 2, 2021
    Dan Ware and Mollie Rappe
    mrappe@sandia.gov
    505-844-4902

    1
    Rachid Darbali-Zamora examines Sandia National Laboratories’ new wind turbine motor, which will allow the distributed energy team to study how wind farms will behave under a variety of conditions and in different locations. Credit: Bret Latter.

    Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have a new tool that allows them to study wind power and see whether it can be efficiently used to provide power to people living in remote and rural places or even off the grid, through distributed energy.

    A new, custom-built wind turbine emulator has been installed at Sandia’s Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory. The emulator, which mimics actual wind turbines at Sandia’s Scaled Wind Farm Technology Site near Lubbock Texas, will be used to study how wind farms behave under multiple weather conditions and load demands, and if they can be efficiently used as a source of distributed energy for consumers who live near the farms, according to Brian Naughton, a researcher with Sandia’s Wind Energy Technologies program.

    2
    Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) facility, located at Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute Research Center in Lubbock, Texas.

    Unlike traditional wind farms that feed energy to grid-connected transmission lines, wind turbines used for distributed energy are close to or even directly connected to the end user or customer, said Naughton. This is especially important for users who are in remote areas or who are off the main electrical grid.

    “Right now, most wind generated power is just sent out on transmission lines to customers hundreds of miles away and can be affected by a wide variety of disruptions,” said Naughton. “Being able to test how wind turbines react to different and varying wind and weather conditions, we can help determine the viability of having generation take place closer to homes, schools and businesses.”

    Determining the viability of using wind turbines as a source of distributed energy is important due to the potential impact it could have on providing electricity to remote, island communities that exist largely off the main electric grid, said Rachid Darbali-Zamora, a researcher with Sandia’s Renewable Energy and Distributed Systems Integration program.

    “We’re looking at finding solutions to challenges faced by parts of the country that cannot be consistently powered by a traditional electric grid, such as remote communities in Alaska or islands that have experienced crippling devastation due to hurricanes,” said Darbali-Zamora. “Adding wind as a distributed energy source, we are potentially solving some big challenges that are faced regarding the utilization of microgrid technology.”

    Faster research through innovation

    By using the resources available at the Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory, researchers will be able to exactly replicate wind, weather and load demand conditions at the Texas site, according to Naughton.

    3
    The scaled down turbine motor is connected to software that will allow the Sandia National Laboratories team to emulate a variety of conditions and tackle the challenges of using wind power as part of a microgrid for remote communities. Credit: Bret Latter.

    “Because the Distributed Energy Technologies Lab is so configurable, we’re able to conduct tests and simulations that are not feasible or safe to do on the actual electric grid or that we might have to wait days or weeks for conditions to be right at the wind farm site,” said Naughton. “Just like the lab can simulate weather and load conditions for solar photovoltaics and battery testing, we can now do the same thing for wind generation.”

    The emulator consists of a scaled-down wind turbine motor and uses much of the same hardware and software that control actual turbines. The motor is connected to the lab’s emulator system, allowing researchers to operate the “virtual” turbine under different conditions, Naughton said.

    “Because we’ve created an emulator that is as close to the real thing as possible, we can rapidly and cost-effectively go from concept to a solution to the challenges communities and utilities face regarding distributed energy generation,” said Naughton. “We also believe that the research we’re going to be conducting will have an overall benefit to grid resilience and stability, which affects everyone.”

    Replicating West Texas wind in real-time simulations

    In the laboratory setting, a model mimicking the Texas wind farm site’s electrical distribution system is run in real-time, generating approximately 15 kilowatts of electricity. Power from the wind turbine emulator is introduced to the simulated wind farm, influencing its behavior. In turn, responses, such as voltage variations, affect the wind turbine emulator behavior. This also allows the emulator to interact with other physical devices inside the Distributed Energy Technologies Lab such as solar photovoltaic inverters and protection systems, said Sandia’s Jon Berg, with the Wind Energy Technology’s program.

    “Wind as strong as 25 meters per second interacting with the rotor blades is represented by a motor drive that we can program to duplicate how the rotor speed would respond,” said Berg. “The torque being created then causes the emulator to produce electricity, just like the actual turbine does, as the turbine control system commands the power converter and generator to resist the input torque.”

    Naughton, Darbali-Zamora and Berg all believe that the ability to apply different control schemes to the emulator and simulated environments in real time, will help identify obstacles that can arise during deployment in the field such as system communications latencies or other configuration challenges. Being able to address these in a real-time test environment will save time and money and increase efficiency of field deployment.

    See the full article here .


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    Sandia Campus.


    Sandia National Laboratory

    Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.



     
  • richardmitnick 9:39 am on December 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "With campus as a test bed, "With campus as a test bed climate action starts and continues at MIT", , Clean Energy, climate action starts and continues at MIT", , , , , ,   

    From MIT: “With campus as a test bed, climate action starts and continues at MIT” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    December 18, 2020
    Nicole Morell | MIT Office of Sustainability

    MIT serves as a laboratory for a multifaceted approach to address the Institute’s own contributions to climate change.

    1
    MIT has reduced campus emissions by 24 percent over the past five years.

    In 2015, MIT set a goal to reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 32 percent by the year 2030. Five years later, the Institute has reduced emissions by 24 percent, remaining on track to meet its goal over the next several years.

    These most recent reduction data mark a 6 percent decrease — nearly 11,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (MTCO2e) — from fiscal year 2019 to fiscal year 2020. This year-over-year reduction was driven in part by gains in building-level energy efficiency investments, operational efficiency of the Central Utilities Plant (CUP), a reduction in carbon intensity of the electricity purchased from the New England power grid, a less-intense heating season, and a temporary de-densification of campus due to Covid-19 resulting in lower energy demand.

    Cumulative efforts to reduce emissions

    The net 24 percent reduction over five years accounts for a decrease of over 50,000 MTCO2e annually since the launch of the Plan for Action on Climate Change in 2015. The plan is guided by five pillars to address the global challenge of climate change through research, technology, education, and outreach, as well as calling on MIT to use its campus operations and community as a test bed for change.

    This campus-as-a-test bed methodology empowers MIT to leverage faculty, students, and staff to test and demonstrate strategies for mitigating its own emissions. Strategies have focused on minimizing emissions through reducing the overall energy use, reducing the use of fossil fuels in campus buildings and vehicles, increasing the use of renewable energy sources, and minimizing the release of fugitive gases from campus operation. Marked improvement and investment has been seen in these areas over the past five years — from the CUP renewal to energy standards for an increasingly LEED-certified campus. Along with these efforts, research and coursework supports new cohorts of sustainability thinkers and doers making an impact on campus while working alongside staff, and priming MIT for an eventual goal of carbon neutrality.

    This unique research-staff partnership has enabled MIT to make significant progress in reducing its emissions, explains Joe Higgins, vice president for campus services and stewardship: “We are fortunate to have so many dedicated and creative operational staff engaged in achieving our carbon reduction goal,” he says. “They continuously seek opportunities to collaborate with students, faculty and researchers who are tackling the climate challenges of our world.”

    Mitigating campus emissions

    MIT’s buildings account for the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions on campus, comprising 97 percent of all emissions tracked. To lessen the emissions of existing campus buildings, the Institute prioritized deep energy audits to identify those spaces that have high levels of energy consumption and the greatest potential for emissions reductions. These efforts, led by the Department of Facilities and supported by the Office of Campus Planning; Environment, Health, and Safety; and the the Office of Sustainability (MITOS), follow a process of study, design, and implementation of retrofits with features such as heat recovery, lighting upgrades, and enhanced building systems controls to reduce energy use and associated emissions — a process that is ongoing. “As buildings are regularly identified for these audits, energy enhancements and energy reductions are continually being realized across campus,” explains Carlo Fanone, director of facilities engineering. “These reductions are often not fully realized until one to two fiscal years after completing a project, so we remain on a cycle of launching new projects and seeing the impact completed projects have on reduced emissions.”

    To mitigate the emissions impact of new buildings, the Institute adopted guidelines in 2016 that required all newly constructed campus buildings to achieve a minimum of LEED Gold certification (version 4). To date, more than 18 buildings and spaces at MIT are LEED certified, with two LEED Platinum buildings — the highest possible rating offered by the U.S. Green Building Council, which certifies LEED projects. Additional reductions on campus have been achieved through eliminating the use of fuel oil in the existing power plant, as well as investments in its operational efficiency. With the significant capital renewal of the CUP coming online in 2021, its increased capacity and efficiency is expected to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 percent.

    As ongoing campus efforts in a dense urban environment contribute to incremental emissions reductions, Institute leaders recognize the need for rapid global mitigation efforts that deploy strategies both on and off campus. To advance this, MIT entered into a power purchase agreement, or PPA, in 2016 that enabled the construction of Summit Farms, a 650-acre, 60-megawatt solar farm in North Carolina. Since then, MIT has benefited annually from the Institute’s 25-year commitment to purchase electricity generated through the PPA and in 2020 alone purchased 87,320 megawatt-hours of solar power, which offset over 28,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from on-campus operations.

    Future forward

    In utilizing the campus to test innovative ideas for local climate action, operational staff, researchers, students, and faculty all play a role. Through teaching 11.S938 / 2.S999 (Solving for Carbon Neutrality at MIT) and 11.S196 / 11.S946 (Exploring Sustainability at Different Scales) Director of Sustainability Julie Newman and mechanical engineering Professor Tim Gutowski have guided classes of graduate and undergraduate students in developing solutions for real-world sustainability challenges that tie back to campus. “This coursework has allowed us to engage students in thinking about climate change solutions through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals — addressing a truly global challenge — and then taking that thinking and problem-solving approach to challenges and opportunities in our own backyard at MIT,” explains Newman, who also serves as a lecturer with the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. “Students start to think about climate action and carbon neutrality at different scales, which is the model we follow in the Office of Sustainability.”

    Research solutions to campus challenges are also supported through the Campus Sustainability Incubator Fund — administered by MITOS — which has enabled more than a dozen MIT community members to use the campus itself for research in sustainable operations, management, and design. Past funded projects include on-site renewable energy storage systems, water capture and reuse at the CUP, and life-cycle impacts on building designs on campus. Currently, a team of researchers supported by the fund is focused on short- and long-term sustainable procurement, sourcing, and disposal strategies for personal protective equipment at MIT, with a focus on solutions scalable beyond campus.

    Data and future work

    As MIT looks to meet its reduction goal, data collection and analysis remain key to measuring and mitigating emissions. MIT continually works to collect the full picture of this impact and in 2019 began developing a preliminary analysis of the Institute’s Scope 3, or indirect, greenhouse gas emissions. This is done to inform MIT’s total greenhouse gas emissions activities — in addition to Scopes 1 and 2 — and explore where strategic opportunities may exist to reduce emissions beyond what MIT is currently tracking. Through this effort, MIT has been collecting available emissions data, including those of purchased goods and services, MIT-sponsored travel, commuting, and capital goods (furniture, fixtures, tools, etc.) using the World Resources Institute/ World Business Council for Sustainable Development GHG Protocol for Scope 3 framework.

    The effort to capture a complete emissions picture reflects the ongoing work of MIT to rapidly understand and address its own contributions to climate change. As MIT looks to 2030 and its continued climate action work, Vice President for Research Maria Zuber says the MIT community will remain an important part of the work and envisioning the future, which includes a new climate action plan. “MIT is ahead of the schedule we set for ourselves to reduce net carbon emissions,” says Zuber, who oversees MIT’s Plan for Action on Climate Change. “But the climate crisis demands that we make even faster progress. Our new climate plan will set a more ambitious goal that everyone in our community will have a role in meeting.”

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 10:43 am on December 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Foundations for the energy system of tomorrow", , Clean Energy, , ReMaP-Renewable Management and Real-​Time Control Platform,   

    From ETH Zürich (CH): “Foundations for the energy system of tomorrow” 

    From ETH Zürich (CH)

    14.12.2020
    Leo Herrmann

    1
    One major challenge: the increased use of solar and wind energy. Credit: Adobestock.

    On the road to a sustainable energy system, technologies for the flexible conversion and efficient storage of energy are becoming increasingly important. To investigate these pressing issues in a realistic way, ETH Zürich, Empa and the Paul Scherrer Institute have been developing ReMaP, a new type of research platform, since 2019. Their initial findings are now available.

    Switzerland’s current energy system is based on imported fossil fuels – gas, petrol and crude oil – but also on a relatively small number of large nuclear and hydroelectric power plants. The electricity these power plants generate reaches consumers via the transmission and distribution grid. Storage lakes, pumped storage and electricity trading with other countries compensate for demand fluctuations, for example between day and night. This system is likely to change fundamentally in the coming decades. The Energy Act, which came into force in 2018, provides for Switzerland to gradually abandon nuclear energy and make greater use of renewable energy sources. It also calls for buildings, industry and mobility to become more energy-​efficient and for net CO2 emissions to fall to zero in 2050. All this could drive demand for electricity even higher, for example through increased use of electric vehicles or heat pumps.

    One challenge is to supplant the share of nuclear energy in the Swiss electricity mix (currently around 35 percent) with renewable energy. Photovoltaics will play a major role, while wind power will play a comparatively smaller role. Both are volatile energy sources because they produce different amounts of power seasonally and depending on the weather. To balance production and demand, technologies are needed that can convert energy into different forms, store it efficiently and then make it available again in the required form. This would allow surplus solar energy in summer to meet increased demand in winter. Flexible conversion and storage technologies, together with digital solutions, would pave the way for more of what is known as sector coupling. For example, hydrogen could then be produced with cheap electricity from photovoltaic systems and used to refuel trucks. The power grid of the future will be more decentralised, flexible and connected.

    An ecosystem for energy research

    The same must apply to the research on which that grid is built. “Anyone who researches a single technology in isolation can draw only limited conclusions,” says John Lygeros, Professor in the Automatic Control Laboratory at ETH Zürich. “There needs to be a connected ecosystem at the research stage to test all kinds of technologies in interaction with each other.” Lygeros is leading one of the ten research projects under the umbrella of ReMaP (Renewable Management and Real-​Time Control Platform), which was presented to the public in June 2019 by ETH Zürich, Empa and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). These institutions boast a wide range of research infrastructure, which the ReMaP project seeks to connect and expand. At present, this infrastructure comprises PSI’s ESI platform and Empa’s ehub platform. While ESI offers, among other things, various technologies for converting electricity into gases, ehub offers the opportunity to study energy flows in the residential, work and mobility sectors. It uses two demonstrators: NEST, a vibrant “vertical neighbourhood” for sustainable construction; and move, a filling station for fuels made from renewable energy.

    At the core of ReMaP lie the control framework and the simulation framework. These enable users to design experiments that establish real-​time connections between any number of physical devices in different locations as well as digital models of devices and then investigate their interactions. Data from the experiments is stored in a central database. Two industrial partners are also involved in developing the necessary software: the company smart grid solutions and the ETH spin-​off Adaptricity. Andreas Haselbacher, a lecturer at the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zürich and a leader of the ReMaP project, says: “At present, there’s no comparable research platform anywhere in the world that lets us understand both the hardware and software for a range of energy systems at the neighbourhood level.”

    Flexibility as the main objective

    For example, Lygeros and his doctoral student Marta Fochesato, both based at ETH, can use both an electrolyser at PSI and a hydrogen filling station at Empa. In the electrolyser, electricity splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The two scientists want to optimise the storage of energy in the form of hydrogen. Among other things, they are investigating how to meet a given demand for hydrogen as cost-​effectively as possible. Based on the electrolyser’s efficiency, thermal dynamics and control behaviour, they developed an ideal digital controller: an algorithm that decides minute by minute on the basis of the current electricity price at what the output it should run the electrolyser. Whenever electricity is expensive, hydrogen is produced only if there is an acute need – for example, when a car needs to fill up with hydrogen. When electricity is cheap, the unit produces hydrogen for later use. This keeps the overall electricity costs lower than if the electrolyser sprang into action only to meet demand at any given time. The decisive factor in the experiment is to make the flexible conversion and storage of energy as efficient as possible – which would go a long way towards overcoming the as yet unsolved problem of how to store solar or wind energy across seasons in an economical way. “Integrating infrastructure from different institutions into the same experiment is challenging. ReMaP is unique in its ability to enable collaboration on the scale we see here between ETH, Empa and PSI,” Lygeros says.

    Another ReMaP project focuses on combined heat and power plants. These often consist of a combustion engine and a generator that produces electricity. Whenever they generate a surplus, this can be fed back into the system. Their waste heat from combustion is also put to use, for example to heat buildings. This heat can be made available at up to 750 °C, but the temperature used to heat a building is around 80 °C. This results in a considerable loss of potential, as higher temperatures can be used more flexibly and effectively. Konstantinos Boulouchos and Christian Schürch, from the Aerothermochemistry and Combustion Systems Laboratory at ETH Zürich, are pursuing the approach of using part of the waste heat not for heating, but to drive a chemical reaction in a steam reformer and produce what is known as syngas – a mixture of hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide. Although this reduces the cogeneration unit’s heat output, it lets the power plant generate a higher-​quality and more flexible form of energy: the syngas produced can serve as seasonal thermal energy storage. The two researchers are now looking to determine the best operating concept for such power plants. The combined heat and power plant they are using for their experiment is located in the ML building on the ETH Zentrum campus, but is connected to the Empa network – and all data is processed there.

    Open for further partners

    ReMaP is still in the process of being set up. These experiments show that there is nothing to prevent other physical systems, such as biogas plants or hydroelectric power plants, from being integrated into the platform even if they are not located at any of the three sites. Project leader Haselbacher looks to the future: “We’re very keen to involve further partners, be they universities, colleges or players from industry.” ReMaP’s stated aim is not only research and development, but also education and communication: the platform is intended to help train the next generation of researchers and specialists, while at the same time offering insights into the energy system of the future to society at large and to decision-​makers in politics and business. Detlef Günther, Vice-​President for Research at ETH Zürich, is pleased: “To make faster progress in research and ultimately make a success of the energy turnaround, we need to work in a connected and interdisciplinary way and involve industry as well as politics and the public. ReMaP is a good example of how the ETH Domain is moving forward on these issues.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ETH Zurich campus
    ETH Zürich (CH) is one of the leading international universities for technology and the natural sciences. It is well known for its excellent education, ground-breaking fundamental research and for implementing its results directly into practice.

    Founded in 1855, ETH Zürich (CH) today has more than 18,500 students from over 110 countries, including 4,000 doctoral students. To researchers, it offers an inspiring working environment, to students, a comprehensive education.

    Twenty-one Nobel Laureates have studied, taught or conducted research at ETH Zürich (CH), underlining the excellent reputation of the university.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:50 am on December 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "China Just Switched on Its 'Artificial Sun' Nuclear Fusion Reactor", , Clean Energy, ,   

    From Science Alert (AU): “China Just Switched on Its ‘Artificial Sun’ Nuclear Fusion Reactor” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert (AU)

    1
    Animation of fusion within a Tokamak. (dani3315/iStock/Getty Images)

    7 DECEMBER 2020

    China successfully powered up its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor for the first time, state media reported Friday, marking a great advance in the country’s nuclear power research capabilities.

    The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device, and scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source.

    It uses a powerful magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius, according to the People’s Daily – approximately 10 times hotter than the core of the sun.

    1
    China’s ‘artificial sun’, HL-2M Tokamak. Credit: China Atomic Energy Authority.

    Located in southwestern Sichuan province and completed late last year, the reactor is often called an “artificial sun” on account of the enormous heat and power it produces.

    “The development of nuclear fusion energy is not only a way to solve China’s strategic energy needs, but also has great significance for the future sustainable development of China’s energy and national economy,” said the People’s Daily.

    Chinese scientists have been working on developing smaller versions of the nuclear fusion reactor since 2006.

    They plan to use the device in collaboration with scientists working on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor – the world’s largest nuclear fusion research project based in France, which is expected to be completed in 2025.

    ITER experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor that is being built next to the Cadarache facility in Saint Paul les-Durance south of France.

    Fusion is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of energy and is what powers our sun.

    It merges atomic nuclei to create massive amounts of energy – the opposite of the fission process used in atomic weapons and nuclear power plants, which splits them into fragments.

    Unlike fission, fusion emits no greenhouse gases and carries less risk of accidents or the theft of atomic material.

    But achieving fusion is both extremely difficult and prohibitively expensive, with the total cost of ITER estimated at US$22.5 billion.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 9:57 am on December 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Understanding bacteria’s metabolism could improve biofuel production", , , , , Clean Energy, , One of the barriers to creating biofuels that are cost competitive with petroleum is the inefficiency of converting plant material into ethanol., The authors describe mathematical and computational modeling; artificial intelligence; algorithms; and experiments showing that cells have failsafe mechanisms.,   

    From UC Riverside: “Understanding bacteria’s metabolism could improve biofuel production” 

    UC Riverside bloc

    From UC Riverside

    December 3, 2020
    Jules Bernstein
    jules.bernstein@ucr.edu
    (951) 827-4580

    1

    A new study reveals how bacteria control the chemicals produced from consuming ‘food.’ The insight could lead to organisms that are more efficient at converting plants into biofuels.

    The study, authored by scientists at UC Riverside and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has been published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

    2
    Colorized scanning electron micrograph of E. coli, bacteria commonly used in the production of biofuels. Credit: NIAID.

    In the article, the authors describe mathematical and computational modeling, artificial intelligence algorithms and experiments showing that cells have failsafe mechanisms preventing them from producing too many metabolic intermediates.

    Metabolic intermediates are the chemicals that couple each reaction to one another in metabolism. Key to these control mechanisms are enzymes, which speed up chemical reactions involved in biological functions like growth and energy production.

    “Cellular metabolism consists of a bunch of enzymes. When the cell encounters food, an enzyme breaks it down into a molecule that can be used by the next enzyme and the next, ultimately generating energy,” explained study co-author, UCR adjunct math professor and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory computational scientist William Cannon.

    The enzymes cannot produce an excessive amount of metabolic intermediates. They produce an amount that is controlled by how much of that product is already present in the cell.

    “This way the metabolite concentrations don’t get so high that the liquid inside the cell becomes thick and gooey like molasses, which could cause cell death,” Cannon said.

    One of the barriers to creating biofuels that are cost competitive with petroleum is the inefficiency of converting plant material into ethanol. Typically, E. coli bacteria are engineered to break down lignin, the tough part of plant cell walls, so it can be fermented into fuel.

    Mark Alber, study co-author and UCR distinguished math professor, said that the study is a part of the project to understand the ways bacteria and fungi work together to affect the roots of plants grown for biofuels.

    “One of the problems with engineering bacteria for biofuels is that most of the time the process just makes the bacteria sick,” Cannon said. “We push them to overproduce proteins, and it becomes uncomfortable — they could die. What we learned in this research could help us engineer them more intelligently.”

    Knowing which enzymes need to be prevented from overproducing can help scientists design cells that produce more of what they want and less of what they don’t.

    The research employed mathematical control theory, which learns how systems control themselves, as well as machine learning to predict which enzymes needed to be controlled to prevent excessive buildup of metabolites.

    While this study examined central metabolism, which generates the cell’s energy, going forward, Cannon said the research team would like to study other aspects of a cell’s metabolism, including secondary metabolism — how proteins and DNA are made — and interactions between cells.

    “I’ve worked in a lab that did this kind of thing manually, and it took months to understand how one particular enzyme is regulated,” Cannon said. “Now, using these new methods, this can be done in a few days, which is extremely exciting.”

    The U.S. Department of Energy, seeking to diversify the nation’s energy sources, funded this three-year research project with a $2.1 million grant.


    The project is also a part of the broader initiatives under way in the newly established UCR Interdisciplinary Center for Quantitative Modeling in Biology.

    Though this project focused on bacterial metabolism, the ability to learn how cells regulate and control themselves could also help develop new strategies for combatting diseases.

    “We’re focused on bacteria, but these same biological mechanisms and modeling methods apply to human cells that have become dysregulated, which is what happens when a person has cancer,” Alber said. “If we really want to understand why a cell behaves the way it does, we have to understand this regulation.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Riverside Campus

    The University of California, Riverside is one of 10 universities within the prestigious University of California system, and the only UC located in Inland Southern California.

    Widely recognized as one of the most ethnically diverse research universities in the nation, UCR’s current enrollment is more than 21,000 students, with a goal of 25,000 students by 2020. The campus is in the midst of a tremendous growth spurt with new and remodeled facilities coming on-line on a regular basis.

    We are located approximately 50 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. UCR is also within easy driving distance of dozens of major cultural and recreational sites, as well as desert, mountain and coastal destinations.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:26 am on December 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Turning Straw into Gold", , , Canadian Light Source synchrotron – CCRS (CA), , Clean Energy, Photobiorefinery uses solar energy to break down biomass., Using the power of the sun to convert biomass like wheat straw into hydrogen fuel and value-added biochemicals.   

    From Canadian Light Source synchrotron – CCRS (CA): “Turning Straw into Gold” 

    From Canadian Light Source synchrotron – CCRS (CA)

    02 Dec, 2020
    Colleen MacPherson

    A more profitable and eco-friendly method for turning biomass into biochemicals and green hydrogen.

    1
    The UCalgary team is observing a photo-reactor that is being used for photoreforming reaction with wheat straw. Left to right: Prof. Md Golam Kibria, Dr. Adnan Khan (Research Associate), Dr. Heng Zhao (Post doctoral fellow), Prof. Jinguang Hu. Credit: Prof. Hu and Kibria group.

    Many have dreamed of being able to turn straw into gold like the fabled Rumpelstiltskin. While this may not be possible in the literal sense, scientists are using sunlight to turn straw into something more valuable.

    With the aid of technology from the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan, Canadian researchers have made important advances to use the power of the sun to convert biomass like wheat straw into hydrogen fuel and value-added biochemicals. This method is more efficient, eco-friendly and lucrative.

    Producing energy from biomass, or plant material, has been studied for more than four decades, said Dr. Jinguang Hu, assistant professor at the University of Calgary (UCalgary). The two most common processes are thermo-chemical and biological, but these are still carbon intensive and are not economically feasible.

    Dr. Hu and Dr. Md Golam Kibria, an assistant professor at UCalgary, have been focusing their recent research on an alternative approach to commonly used petro-refinery. Their novel and environmentally friendly approach called photobiorefinery uses solar energy to break down biomass, in this case wheat straw, to make green hydrogen and a high value biochemical. Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) has been supporting this research and their recent findings were published by the American Chemical Society.

    One of the key aspects of an effective biomass photorefinery approach is pre-treatment of the wheat straw. Hu explained plant cell walls are made of complex and highly organized cellulose structures, a major building block of biomass. Pre-treatment of the biomass destroys those structures and exposes more of the material to the sun-driven process. Kibria added the goal was to identify a pre-treatment that does not require non-renewable resources, thereby “saving a lot of carbon and cost.”

    Using the CLS’s Hard X-ray Micro-analysis beamline, the researchers compared how raw wheat straw and straw pre-treated in a number of ways reacted in the photorefinery. Their findings showed a phosphoric acid pre-treatment resulted in the highest production of green hydrogen and lactic acid, which is typically used for bioplastics and in food, chemical, and medical industries.

    “The CLS facility allowed us to see how stable the material was at the start, during and after photorefining of wheat straw. And, we could see that in real time, which is a big advantage,” said Kibria.

    Another critical factor was to find an inexpensive, readily available catalyst to drive the photorefinery. The study found the best results using a low-cost photocatalyst, made from carbon and nitrogen, that is designed for visible light driven cellulose photoreforming.

    “Because all biomass has a similar chemical composition, what we’ve shown is that you can tailor the pre-treatment and the catalyst to valorize any renewable organic material,” said Hu. This finding opens up opportunities for turning straw and other plant materials into value-added green hydrogen and biochemicals.

    Kibria said the next steps in the research will be to “tune the catalyst to capture more of the visible light spectrum,” and then to scale up the photorefinery with an eye to eventual commercialization.

    “Because biomass captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, we can use this process to take care of the environment and produce green hydrogen and chemicals that are economically viable,” he said.

    See the full article here.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Canadian Light Source, located on the grounds of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

    Canadian Light Source synchrotron , Centre canadien de rayonnement synchrotron– CCRS (CA) is Canada’s national synchrotron light source facility, located on the grounds of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The CLS has a third-generation 2.9 GeV storage ring, and the building occupies a footprint the size of a football field. It opened in 2004 after a 30-year campaign by the Canadian scientific community to establish a synchrotron radiation facility in Canada. It has expanded both its complement of beamlines and its building in two phases since opening, and its official visitors have included Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. As a national synchrotron facility with over 1000 individual users, it hosts scientists from all regions of Canada and around 20 other countries. Research at the CLS has ranged from viruses to superconductors to dinosaurs, and it has also been noted for its industrial science and its high school education programs.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:28 pm on October 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clean Energy, Nuclear reactors, , University of Regina (CA)   

    From University of Regina (CA) via phys.org: “Assessing the viability of small modular nuclear reactors” 

    From University of Regina (CA)

    via


    phys.org

    October 29, 2020

    1
    Small Modular Power reactors could provide an alternative to larger nuclear fission plants like Sizewell in the UK. Credit: Ivor Branton, Wikimedia / CC by SA 2.0.

    Small modular nuclear reactors could provide nuclear power to small communities and rural areas currently served by environmentally damaging fossil fuel energy-sources. Assessing the potential of these reactors means keeping one eye on the past, with another fixed firmly in thefuture.

    Small modular nuclear power reactors (SMRs) could overcome the cost overruns and construction problems that have dogged a nuclear industry dominated by larger reactors. A timely new Physics Open paper by Esam Hussein, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Regina, Canada, reviews the current status of SMRs and the benefits they present.

    The world’s energy economy has become heavily dependent on nuclear power, with sales of electricity generated by nuclear power accounting for $40-$50 billion in sales each year and over 100,000 workers contributing to production in the United States alone. Yet, despite being much ‘cleaner’ in terms of greenhouse emissions than fossil fuels, generating electricity without burning carbon, nuclear power is far from perfect. One of the problems is that fission nuclear power plants are expensive to build and require a great deal of space. This leaves some communities and rural areas poorly served by nuclear power and potentially by any low-carbon energy. SMRs could provide a solution.

    “Small modular reactors can support sustainable development by economically providing reliable base-load electricity, curtailing greenhouse gas emissions and enabling social justice by supplying energy to isolated and deprived communities and those with limited financial means,” says Hussein. “This critical review shows that those developing the emerging small modular reactor technology can benefit greatly from earlier small reactors and can learn from the challenges that have faced modular design, manufacturing and construction in the shipbuilding industry.”

    As well as these advantages, Hussein points out that SMRs can play a significant role in the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium, burning it to provide sustainable nuclear fuel production. The researcher continues: “Many jurisdictions are considering small modular reactors as an effective means to combat climate change, taking advantage of their flexibility and the expected reduction in construction time and cost, in comparison to conventional; large nuclear reactors.”

    In order to assess the viability of SMRs, Hussein focuses on the design of more than 100 reactors to assess their smallness –  in terms of both size and power—unsurprisingly, an important defining factor of reactors. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) determines ‘small reactors’ to be any reactors with power up to 300 MW-electric (MWe).

    Hussein also assesses the modularity of such reactors, an aspect most easily defined as possessing independent or loosely coupled components that have self-contained functionality and can be replaced or exchanged with similar systems. “Most emerging small modular reactors incorporate safety and operational features that were tried and tested during the pioneering years of nuclear power, but the concept of modularity is still ambiguous,” he says. “As this was a critical review, all aspects of the technology had to be considered and analyzed.”

    The main conclusion reached in the review paper was that whilst SMRs offer a number of advantages over larger reactors, including allowing a power plant to incrementally build up its capacity without committing and risking large capital upfront, much more knowledge is needed to perfect such devices. Fortunately, this knowledge can be garnered from the design, testing and operation of earlier small reactors.

    What is more ambiguous and harder to assess is the evolving concept of modularity, a somewhat controversial area that needs further research and investigation. This means that SMRs present something of a dichotomy in the nuclear field—possessing a tried and tested element and a more experimental aspect. As Hussein succinctly concludes: “What is new and old at the same time? A small modular reactor!”

    See the full article here.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Regina is a public research university located in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Founded in 1911 as a private denominational high school of the Methodist Church of Canada, it began an association with the University of Saskatchewan as a junior college in 1925, and was disaffiliated by the Church and fully ceded to the University in 1934; in 1961 it attained degree-granting status as the Regina Campus of the University of Saskatchewan. It became an autonomous university in 1974. The University of Regina has an enrollment of over 15,000 full and part-time students. The university’s student newspaper, The Carillon, is a member of CUP.

    The University of Regina is well-reputed for having a focus on experiential learning and offers internships, professional placements and practicums in addition to cooperative education placements in 41 programs. This experiential learning and career-preparation focus was further highlighted when, in 2009 the University of Regina launched the UR Guarantee Program, a unique program guaranteeing participating students a successful career launch after graduation by supplementing education with experience to achieve specific educational, career and life goals. Partnership agreements with provincial crown corporations, government departments and private corporations have helped the University of Regina both place students in work experience opportunities and help gain employment post-study.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:08 am on October 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Yogesh Surendranath wants to decarbonize our energy systems", , , Clean Energy, ,   

    From MIT: “Yogesh Surendranath wants to decarbonize our energy systems” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    October 23, 2020
    Anne Trafton

    1
    MIT chemistry professor Yogesh Surendranath joined the MIT faculty in 2013. “One of the most attractive features of the department is its balanced composition of early career and senior faculty. This has created a nurturing and vibrant atmosphere that is highly collaborative,” he says. “But more than anything else, it was the phenomenal students at MIT that drew me back. Their intensity and enthusiasm is what drives the science.” Credit: Gretchen Ertl.

    By developing novel electrochemical reactions, he hopes to find new ways to generate energy and reduce greenhouse gases.

    Electricity plays many roles in our lives, from lighting our homes to powering the technology and appliances we rely on every day. Electricity can also have a major impact at the molecular scale, by powering chemical reactions that generate useful products.

    Working at that molecular level, MIT chemistry professor Yogesh Surendranath harnesses electricity to rearrange chemical bonds. The electrochemical reactions he is developing hold potential for processes such as splitting water into hydrogen fuel, creating more efficient fuel cells, and converting waste products like carbon dioxide into useful fuels.

    “All of our research is about decarbonizing the energy ecosystem,” says Surendranath, who recently earned tenure in MIT’s Department of Chemistry and serves as the associate director of the Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage Center, one of the Low-Carbon Energy Centers run by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI).

    Although his work has many applications in improving energy efficiency, most of the research projects in Surendranath’s group have grown out of the lab’s fundamental interest in exploring, at a molecular level, the chemical reactions that occur between the surface of an electrode and a liquid.

    “Our goal is to uncover the key rate-limiting processes and the key steps in the reaction mechanism that give rise to one product over another, so that we can, in a rational way, control a material’s properties so that it can most selectively and efficiently carry out the overall reaction,” he says.

    Energy conversion

    Born in Bangalore, India, Surendranath moved to Kent, Ohio, with his parents when he was 3 years old. Bangalore and Kent happen to have the world’s leading centers for studying liquid crystal materials, the field that Surendranath’s father, an organic chemist, specialized in.

    “My dad would often take me to the laboratory, and although my parents encouraged me to pursue medicine, I think my interest in science and chemistry probably was sparked at an early age, by those experiences,” Surendranath recalls.

    Although he was interested in all of the sciences, he narrowed his focus after taking his first college chemistry class at the University of Virginia, with a professor named Dean Harman. He decided on a double major in chemistry and physics and ended up doing research in Harman’s inorganic chemistry lab.

    After graduating from UVA, Surendranath came to MIT for graduate school, where his thesis advisor was then-MIT professor Daniel Nocera. With Nocera, he explored using electricity to split water as a way of renewably generating hydrogen. Surendranath’s PhD research focused on developing methods to catalyze the half of the reaction that extracts oxygen gas from water.

    He got even more involved in catalyst development while doing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley. There, he became interested in nanomaterials and the reactions that occur at the interfaces between solid catalysts and liquids.

    “That interface is where a lot of the key processes that are involved in energy conversion occur in electrochemical technologies like batteries, electrolyzers, and fuel cells,” he says.

    In 2013, Surendranath returned to MIT to join the faculty, at a time when many other junior faculty members were being hired.

    “One of the most attractive features of the department is its balanced composition of early career and senior faculty. This has created a nurturing and vibrant atmosphere that is highly collaborative,” he says. “But more than anything else, it was the phenomenal students at MIT that drew me back. Their intensity and enthusiasm is what drives the science.”

    Fuel decarbonization

    Among the many electrochemical reactions that Surendranath’s lab is trying to optimize is the conversion of carbon dioxide to simple chemical fuels such as carbon monoxide, ethylene, or other hydrocarbons. Another project focuses on converting methane that is burned off from oil wells into liquid fuels such as methanol.

    “For both of those areas, the idea is to convert carbon dioxide and low-carbon feedstocks into commodity chemicals and fuels. These technologies are essential for decarbonizing the chemistry and fuels sector,” Surendranath says.

    Other projects include improving the efficiency of catalysts used for water electrolysis and fuel cells, and for producing hydrogen peroxide (a versatile disinfectant). Many of those projects have grown out of his students’ eagerness to chase after difficult problems and follow up on unexpected findings, Surendranath says.

    “The true joy of my time here, in addition to the science, has been about seeing students that I’ve mentored grow and mature to become independent scientists and thought leaders, and then to go off and launch their own independent careers, whether it be in industry or in academia,” he says. “That role as a mentor to the next generation of scientists in my field has been extraordinarily rewarding.”

    Although they take their work seriously, Surendranath and his students like to keep the mood light in their lab. He often brings mangoes, coconuts, and other exotic fruits in to share, and enjoys flying stunt kites — a type of kite that has multiple lines, allowing them to perform acrobatic maneuvers such as figure eights. He can also occasionally be seen making balloon animals or blowing extremely large soap bubbles.

    “My group has really cultivated an extraordinarily positive, collaborative, uplifting environment where we go after really hard problems, and we have a lot of fun along the way,” Surendranath says. “I feel blessed to work with people who have invested so much in the research effort and have built a culture that is such a pleasure to work in every day.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

    USPS “Forever” postage stamps celebrating Innovation at MIT.

    MIT Campus

     
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