Conference Paper

Recent Developments on Nanotechnology in Solar Energy Applications

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One of the biggest challenges for mankind in the century of 21 is use of alternative sources for non-renewable, limited fossil fuels that tremendously contribute on the problem of global warming. In this challenge, solar energy production is rapidly becoming a vital source of renewable energy being developed as an alternative to traditional sources of power. For improving the efficiency of solar devices various approaches was intended but nanotechnology, a combination of chemistry and engineering, is viewed as new candidate for clean energy applications. Nanotechnology will bring significant benefits to the energy sector, especially to energy storage and solar energy. Improved materials efficiency and reduced manufacturing costs are just two of the real economic benefits that nanotechnology already brings these fields. This paper reviews recent advances on development of nanotechnology in the solar energy devices. Special emphases are given to solar cells based on nanostructure and nanodevices.

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Nanofluids-a simple product of the emerging world of nanotechnology-are suspensions of nanoparticles (nominally 1-100 nm in size) in conventional base fluids such as water, oils, or glycols. Nanofluids have seen enormous growth in popularity since they were proposed by Choi in 1995. In the year 2011 alone, there were nearly 700 research articles where the term nanofluid was used in the title, showing rapid growth from 2006 (175) and 2001 (10). The first decade of nanofluid research was primarily focused on measuring and modeling fundamental thermophysical properties of nanofluids (thermal conductivity, density, viscosity, heat transfer coefficient). Recent research, however, explores the performance of nanofluids in a wide variety of other applications. Analyzing the available body of research to date, this article presents recent trends and future possibilities for nanofluids research and suggests which applications will see the most significant improvement from employing nanofluids. (C) 2013 American Institute of Physics. []
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Nano-sized TiO2 photocatalytic water-splitting technology has great potential for low-cost, environmentally friendly solar-hydrogen production to support the future hydrogen economy. Presently, the solar-to-hydrogen energy conversion efficiency is too low for the technology to be economically sound. The main barriers are the rapid recombination of photo-generated electron/hole pairs as well as backward reaction and the poor activation of TiO2 by visible light. In response to these deficiencies, many investigators have been conducting research with an emphasis on effective remediation methods. Some investigators studied the effects of addition of sacrificial reagents and carbonate salts to prohibit rapid recombination of electron/hole pairs and backward reactions. Other research focused on the enhancement of photocatalysis by modification of TiO2 by means of metal loading, metal ion doping, dye sensitization, composite semiconductor, anion doping and metal ion-implantation. This paper aims to review the up-to-date development of the above-mentioned technologies applied to TiO2 photocatalytic hydrogen production. Based on the studies reported in the literature, metal ion-implantation and dye sensitization are very effective methods to extend the activating spectrum to the visible range. Therefore, they play an important role in the development of efficient photocatalytic hydrogen production.
Compared to thermal conductivity and convection studies with nanofluids; the optical and radiative properties of nanofluids have received much less interest. However, very recently, the number of studies on radiative heat transfer in nanofluids has been increasing. This is due to the fact that, in general, a composite nanofluid has different properties than those found in either the base fluid or the particles. At high temperatures, knowledge of the resultant radiative properties becomes increasingly significant. The concept of using direct absorbing nanofluid (suspension formed by mixing nanoparticles and a liquid) recently been shown numerically and experimentally to be an efficient method for harvesting solar thermal energy. Nanofluid is a product of emerging field of nanotechnology, where nanoparticles (1–100 nm in size) are mixed with conventional base fluids (water, oils, glycols, etc.). Nanofluids as an innovative class of heat transfer fluids represent a rapidly emerging research field where nano-science and thermal engineering coexist. Nanofluids are considered to be a two-phase system, comprised of a solid and a liquid phase. Compared to the base fluids like water or oil, nanofluids feature enhanced thermo-physical properties such as thermal diffusivity, viscosity, thermal conductivity, convective heat transfer coefficients, and optical properties. They offer unprecedented potential in many applications. Recent development in solar thermal collectors is the use of nanofluids to absorb the light directly. There is much current work going on the use of nanoparticles in several applications. With thousands of papers published every year, a comprehensive literature survey is impossible, and only selected representative publications are cited in this paper, particularly as they concern fundamental scientific insights on the fundamental optical properties of nanofluids.
Nanotechnology opens a door to tailing materials and creating various nanostructures for use in dye-sensitized solar cells. This review classifies the nanostructures into (1) nanoparticles, which offer large surface area to photoelectrode film for dye-adsorption, (2) core-shell structures, which are derived from the nanoparticles however with a consideration to reduce charge recombination by forming a coating layer, (3) one-dimensional nanostructures such as nanowires and nanotubes, which provide direct pathways for electron transport much faster than in the nanoparticle films, and (4) three-dimensional nanostructures such as nanotetrapods, branched nanowires or nanotubes, and oxide aggregates, which not only emphasize providing large surface area but also aim at attaining more effective light harvesting and charge transport or collection. The review ends with an outlook proposing that the oxide aggregates are a potentially promising structure which may possibly achieve higher efficiency than the record by reason that the bifunction of aggregates in providing large surface area and generating light scattering allows for photoelectrode film thinner than usual and thus decreases the charge recombination of DSCs.
In 1996, the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies (LAW Fund), a nonprofit environmental lawand policy center based in Boulder, Colorado, released How the West Can Win: A Blueprint for a Clean and Affordable Energy Future. The blueprint found that rapid growth in the West would lead to another round of fossil fuel–fired power plants and the associated environmental impacts unless policy makers changed course toward a more sustainable energy future. The study provided a set of strategies that lawmakers, regulators, and other stakeholders could use to help implement such a course change. It is concluded that the blueprint’s recommendations are even more salient than they were 5 years ago. The article leads off with an overview of changes in the electric industry over the past 5 years in the interior West and concludes with a review of the executive summary of the LAW Fund’s 1996 report, the policy directives of which remain valid today.
Research interest in biomass conversion to fuels and chemicals has increased significantly in the last decade as the necessity for a renewable source of carbon has become more evident. Accordingly, many different reactions and processes to convert biomass into high-value products and fuels have been proposed in the literature. Special attention has been given to the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass, which does not compete with food sources and is widely available as a low cost feedstock. In this review, we start with a brief introduction on lignocellulose and the different chemical structures of its components: cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. These three components allow for the production of different chemicals after fractionation. After a brief overview of the main reactions involved in biomass conversion, we focus on those where bimetallic catalysts are playing an important role. Although the reactions are similar for cellulose and hemicellulose, which contain C(6) and C(5) sugars, respectively, different products are obtained, and therefore, they have been reviewed separately. The third major fraction of lignocellulose that we address is lignin, which has significant challenges to overcome, as its structure makes catalytic processing more challenging. Bimetallic catalysts offer the possibility of enabling lignocellulosic processing to become a larger part of the biofuels and renewable chemical industry. This review summarizes recent results published in the literature for biomass upgrading reactions using bimetallic catalysts.
This paper describes the material flows and emissions in all the life stages of CdTe PV modules, from extracting refining and purifying raw materials through the production, use, and disposal or recycling of the modules. The prime focus is on cadmium flows and cadmium emissions into the environment. This assessment also compares the cadmium environmental inventories in CdTe PV modules with those of Ni–Cd batteries and of coal fuel in power plants. Previous studies are reviewed and their findings assessed in light of new data.
After ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, Canada’s Kyoto greenhouse gas (GHG) emission target is 571 Mt of CO2 equivalent emitted per year by 2010; however, if current emission trends continue, a figure of 809 Mt is projected by 2010 (Cote C. Basic of clean development mechanism—joint implementation and overview of CDM project cycle, 2003 regional workshop on CDM-JI, February 2003, Halifax). This underscores the need for additional reduction of 240 Mt. The Federal Government Action Plan 2000 aims to reduce this gap from 240 to 65 Mt (Cote C. Basic of clean development mechanism—joint implementation and overview of CDM project cycle, 2003 regional workshop on CDM-JI, February 2003, Halifax). In order to accomplish this goal, renewable energy use in all sectors will be required, and this type of energy is particularly applicable in power generation. Traditional power generation is a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after industrial and transportation sectors (Environment Canada. Canada’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990–1998. Final submission to the UNFCCC Secretariat, 2002 [Available from:]. Although wind energy, solar power and other forms of renewable energy are non-GHG emitting in their operation, there are GHG emissions in their different stages of life cycle (i.e. material extraction, manufacturing, construction and transportation, etc.). These emissions must be accounted for in order to assess accurately their capacity to reduce GHG emission and meet Kyoto targets. The current trend in electricity generation is towards integrated energy systems. One such proposed system is the wind–fuel cell integrated system for remote communities. This paper presents a detailed Life Cycle Analysis of the wind–fuel cell integrated system for application in Newfoundland and Labrador.
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