20 November 2019

New Publication: A Vaccum Pressure Thermoelectric Sensor

We have just published a new vacuum pressure sensor that uses a thermoelectric device. It is based on a new principle that relates the influence of the amount of gas in a thermal contact which impacts on the voltage signal of the thermoelectric device. The idea came from my PhD student Braulio Beltrán-Pitarch and we developed it together. It is his first paper as corresponding author. Congratulations!!
We hope it could be of interest for any vacuum company. The paper can be seen here. If you cannot access it and would like a copy, feel free to ask us (beltranb@uji.es).

31 October 2019

UncorrelaTEd: A New Project to Destroy the Seebeck Coefficient-Electrical Conductivity Correlation

The thermoelectric research team at Universitat Jaume I has been recently awarded a European H2020 FET-Open project titled "Solid-liquid thermoelectric systems with uncorrelated properties (UncorrelaTEd)" that will start in January 2020.

The project aims at breaking the Seebeck coefficient-electrical conductivity adverse correlation that severely limits the thermoelectric power factor and hence the figure of merit (efficiency) of thermoelectirc materials. This will be achieved employing solid-liquid hybrid systems, as shown in our first publication on this idea.
More details about the project, including the partners involved, can be found at the Cordis project website. In the coming months the project website and social networks will be open.

12 January 2018

Artificial Photosynthesis Scalabale and Economically Viable

Researchers from Siemens in Germany have developed a complete system which demonstrates a scalable and economically viable way to transform undesired CO2 and also H2O into useful chemicals. The breakthrough is nicely explained in the video below and here is the link to the article in Nature Catalysis.

24 March 2017

Top 10 Emerging Technologies for 2016

The World Economic Forum has published the list of the the top 10 most promising technologies for 2016. The forum selection criteria takes into consideration technologies with the power to improve lives, transform industries and safeguard the planet. Within the selected breakthroughs are:

  • Nanosensors for the internet of things, capable of being embedded in the human body and construction materials. Once connected, this Internet of Nanothings could sense important parameters at crucial points and produce a huge impact on the future of medicine, architecture, agriculture and drug manufacture.
  • Next generation batteries, employing sodium, aluminium and zinc makes posible the construction of mini-grids that can provide clean, reliable, round the clock energy sources to entire villages.
  • 2D materials, such as graphene, are very promising in a wide range of applications, from air and water filters to new generations of wearable devices and batteries. Some of these 2D materials are now reaching the market due to the significant reduction achieved in their production costs.
  • Perovskite solar cells, easier to make than silicon based cells and with a continuous increase in their efficiency are very promising for generating power more efficiently from the sun.

All these technologies offer solutions to important problems of our society and hence could make an important impact on the economic market. To see the whole list and a brief summary of the importance of each technology, click here.

15 April 2016

Efficiency and Challenges of Current Photovoltaic Technologies

I would like to bring to your attention a very interesting and detailed review article published recently in Science by Polman et al. in The Netherlands. It covers the current record efficiencies of all the photovoltaic technologies and summarises main problems and challenges of the different technologies.

(Photovoltaic power station at Nellis Air Force Base, United States, from Wikipedia)

12 February 2016

Publishing Research Takes Ages

This week Nature journal reflects about the usually lengthy publication times. An in-depth analysis is presented on the topic, including a survey to evaluate possible solutions to this problem. The article is worth reading.

07 January 2016

Challenges in Energy for 2016

Nature journal has selected the most relevant scientific topics that could make a high impact in 2016. From an energetical point of view, the most significant one in the list is the capture and use of CO2, which was demonstrated only at very small scale until 2015.

(Climeworks plant in Zurich, image from www.climeworks.com)

The company Climeworks in Zurich is planing to capture around 75 tonnes of CO2 per month at its plant near Zurich by July and sell it to nearby greenhouses. On the other hand, Carbon Engineering in Calgary, has been capturing CO2 since October and expects to show that it can convert the gas into liquid fuel. 

Here is the link to the publication.

07 November 2015

Reusing Carbon Dioxide

Altough many research efforts are led to the increase of the efficiency of fosil fuel consuming devices, in order to reduce CO2 emissions, another interesting approach is to utilise this CO2 as a raw material to produce different products. Researchers hope to show that this could make an impact on climate change. This was commented in an interesting recent article in Nature.

Rechargable Flow Batteries for Renewable Energy Storage

The latest type of flow battery, located at Pullman (Washington) store energy in tanks filled with liquids and has the potential to be cheaper than their conventional solid counterparts and more adaptable to the needs of electrical grids. The Pullman flow installation, made up of big white boxes stores more than enough energy to run four average homes for a month. 

Although the installation holds only a fraction of the power the grid will require, it is introducing a new generation of energy-storage technology. Existing batteries such as lithium ion and lead acid do not provide the necessary combination of long-term energy storage and rapid delivery of energy.

Flow batteries could provide an alternative. They can store energy for a long time and provide it quickly when needed. They are liquid-based, so safer than conventional batteries. Because the energy-storing liquids are kept in external tanks, changing their storage capacity is relatively simple. Most importantly, if researchers can develop the right combination of chemistries, flow batteries could be much less expensive over their lifetime than existing batteries.

For more information you can read the whole article in Nature.

30 May 2015

Stunning Heat-storage Ceramic

A very unique material with outstanding heat-storage properties has been reported this month in Nature Communications. The research group of Shin-ichi Ohkoshi at the University of Tokyo have synthesised a lambda-trititanium pentoxide, λ-Ti3O5, which exhibits a solid–solid phase transition to beta-trititanium pentoxide, β-Ti3O5. This feature makes possible the storage of a large latent heat energy (230 kJ/L) that can be released by applying a small external pressure (~60 MPa) only when demanded. In general, such heat-storage materials cannot store the energy for a prolonged period.

Images of the different phases of Ti3O5 produced by a change of pressure and in current. Below is the heat energy released by application of pressure at t=0. Images from Nature Communications.

The development of high-performance heat-storage materials is important for a more efficient use of waste heat in factories and residences. Moreover, λ-Ti3O5 is a metallic conductor and β-Ti3O5 is a semiconductor, this offers possibilities to realise pressure-sensitive conductivity sensor or pressure-sensitive optical sensor. On top of this, light-induced and current-induced phase transitions from pressure-produced β-Ti3O5 to λ-Ti3O5 are also possible, which are very attractive for advanced electronic devices.

It is not easy to find a material with such outstanding properties and offering the possibilities to apply its unique features in a wide range of applications.