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Materials Characterization R&D

Meeting global energy demand, which is projected to double in the next 50 years, will lead to further greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and increase of the GHG concentration in the atmosphere. According to current projections, burning fossil fuels is likely to remain the main source of energy for at least the next several decades, which will lead to further increase of the atmospheric CO2 level and intensification of anthropogenic climate change. There seems to be a common agreement that the atmospheric CO2 level, currently at 400 ppm, needs to be kept at around 450 ppm to limit the increase of the global temperature to 2o C and to avoid a catastrophic climate change. However, to meet this ambitious goal, very aggressive curbing of CO2 emissions is necessary.

The global scale of the problem requires that multifaceted approach with a number of simultaneous strategies need to be implemented. This includes drastic improvements in energy efficiencies for better energy management and lower energy consumption. Also, large-scale system installations for renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, etc.) conversions and storage are needed at much greater scale to shift the energy production towards higher carbon-neutrality. Finally, highly efficient CO2 capture (especially from point sources, such power plants or fuel engines) and CO2 utilization (ideally, by converting it into value-added products) will also be needed.

The successful implementation of these strategies will in a big part depend on advances in material science as further developments and breakthroughs are needed to significantly improve the existing and discover novel high-performance materials for various energy technologies. This includes: (1) photovoltaics for solar energy conversion, (2) thermo- and piezoelectrics for waste energy recovery, (3) high-quality single-crystal wide-bandgap semiconductors for power electronic applications and efficient energy management, (4) membranes and adsorbents for gas separation and storage, (5) catalysts for solar fuel production (including photoelectrochemical water splitting and CO2 reduction) and fuel cells, as well as, (6) materials for energy storage devices (electrodes, electrolytes, membranes, etc.).

The Conn Center, along with the University of Louisville faculty and students, as well as, with its external collaborators (from academia, national laboratories and industry), conducts a number of projects in these important research areas. The materials characterization efforts to revel and better understand the structure-property relationships, often at the nanoscale, are a key element of this research.

Materials Characterization Contact

Jacek Jasinski, PhD
Theme Leader for Materials Characterization
Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292
Lutz Hall Room 010
502-852-6338 ph
502-852-2535 fx
Email Dr. Jasinski