The investigations for the use of more efficient materials could represent a transformation for the electric sector, which would be reflected in proposals that accelerate a technological deployment aimed at taking advantage of the energy coming from nature
Nowadays, advances in the field of renewable sources represent one of the most stimulating topics in scientific research. The following is a list of four advanced materials that will be in the future of distributed energy and that will help companies meet their growing demand for clean energy.
Carbon fiber resins
Traditionally, wind propellers are made of fiberglass; however, specialists are also developing ways to bring carbon fiber compounds to these designs.
Composite carbon fiber resins are more expensive than their glass fiber equivalents, but they are also lighter and stiffer, allowing the creation of longer propellers. “The longer the blade, the more wind it captures,” explained Shridhar Nath, leader in Compound Technology at GE Global Research.
Ceramic matrix composites can withstand temperatures up to 1315 ° C and are used in jet engines and gas turbines. For its part, the polymer compounds are made of glass fiber or carbon and are used in the manufacture of wind turbines. Both are lightweight and durable, therefore, they are ideal for making giant rotor blades. Likewise, they do not rust, nor wear out like metals, so they can withstand harsh environments for longer.
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Lithium hydroxide Lithium
ion batteries are used in smart phones, tools and electric vehicles ranging from transportation to heavy duty mining equipment. It could be said that they are the main batteries in the market, but they can still be improved. An example of this is the announcement made by the Avalon Advanced Materials, in June 2017, about the refinement of high purity lithium hydroxide.
According to this Canadian company, purity is essential to create better lithium batteries. “Maximizing the density of energy means being able to store the largest amount of it in a small space, so the battery can easily fit into different devices or vehicles and recharge quickly. As lithium hydroxide becomes purer, the companies will develop more durable cells, “said the manager.
Solar cells of perovskite
It is not so famous, but the perovskite has put a lot of heads in the scientific community during the last five years. In the Sargent Group, an institute affiliated with the University of Toronto, researchers have created a component of solar energy collection derived from this material capable of achieving up to 20 percent efficiency.
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Although they do not reach the levels of silicon-based solar cells currently on the market (with 25 percent efficiency), those made with perovskite ore could become the leading technology in the near future.
” Perovskites are easier to work with because they self-assemble at room temperature, compared to the high temperature and pressure required for conventional semiconductors,” said Dr. Alex Ip, director of Research and Partnerships at Sargent Group.
Arguably, they are almost perfectly built for the processing of solar energy, added the manager, because its performance is so high that much of the research focuses on how to ensure that they are stable and how they can tune in the absorption of energy that is intended.
Also at the Sargent Group, researchers are experimenting with nanostructured catalysts to convert carbon dioxide into other molecules, such as ethanol and ethylene, which have promising applications in energy storage at home.
This could be the answer to the challenge of intermittency in renewable sources. “The need is to find certain ways to store the energy to use it when required. Once you have the energy in chemical form, it does not discharge, but it is ready to become, “said Dr. Alex Ip.
For example, a house with its own sunroof could store surplus energy (such as ethanol) and save it for times when there is not much sun, such as the winter season. “The CO 2 used in this process would come directly from the air, which is why a lot of research is being done because the demand for these materials can be very high,” he added.
Meanwhile, it is clear that the pressure for manufacturers to meet market expectations is increasing and researchers will continue to examine the advanced materials that are necessary to achieve a greener future.