Nanomaterials of Energetic and Environmental Interest


    Energy Conversion

    The efficient capture of solar energy through the use of semiconductors to generate hydrogen from water splitting (water photoelectrolysis) keeps being one of the biggest challenges in Energy Sciences. Hydrogen produced in this way can be used as clean fuel, being an option for fosil fuel-based sources. Photocatalysts currently available to be used in photolysis have low efficency, mainly, because they use the UV portion of solar spectrum, which represents only 4% of the total solar energy incident on the Earth's surface. Visible light that is less energetic but more abundant is about 43% of the total solar energy incident on the Earth's surface.

    Consequently, any future teghnology that employs water photolysis for the production of hydrogen in a viable way, should be able to usea a substantial frcation of the visible solar spectrum. In this research line, CIEN-UC tries to explore manufacturing parameters for the elaboration of en efficient phocatalyst, based on hybrid nanostructure made up of carbon nanotubes decorated with hematite (?--?F2O3), titanium dioxide (TiO2) or copper oxide in its inner part.

    Environmental Remediation and Control:

    Contamination of air, soil and water by organic and toxic compounds, pesticides and heavy metals is a big problem around the world and difficult to be solved. It is required the existence of techologies that allow remediation and implementation of precautionary approaches. Methods based on the application of nanomaterials and environment control systems have shown amazing results, however, it is required to make progress regarding approaches and new knowledge that allow its application.

    Nanomaterials particles have unique physico-chemical properties due to their surface/volume ratio with bigger reactivies than the same larger-sized material. Nevertheless, there are still problems of processes implementation from the laboratory scale (where the increase of reactivity in even hogher) to the application at industrial scale.

    On the other hand, nanostruture given to the synthesized material might enable significant perfomance improvements, which highlight the importance of doing research on more efficient nanostructures, by understanding its conceptual design, functionality from a basic microscopic persperctive. It is then crucial for CIEN-UC to encourage interdisciplinary research in which researchers are involved in a coordinated way and thus, connecting basic sciences with applications that can be useful to boost innovation and konwledge creation in this area.