Researchers at HNEI are involved in a broad range of research areas that are at the cutting edge of technology including thin film photovoltaics on new substrates, hydrogen storage methods, selectively absorbent gas purification materials and novel contaminant mitigation materials. The application of these technologies will lead to improvements in efficient energy delivery as well as providing environmentally beneficial solutions.
Advanced PV Materials
Researchers at HNEI are developing new methods to integrate thin film solar materials directly onto lightweight/flexible substrates, including plastics and fabrics. Such devices can generate enough electricity to power small electronic devices (phones and electronic tablets for civilians) and sensors (healthcare diagnosis instruments for military personnel), providing a reliable source of energy when needed. The techniques developed at the institute can be applied to various materials classes used for power electronics or renewable fuel production applications, and could potentially reduce the manufacturing costs of other mainstream thin film photovoltaic materials.
Hydrogen Storage and Carrier Materials
The widespread expansion of fuel cell-based technologies would be greatly accelerated by the development of energy efficient, low cost, and safer hydrogen storage and hydrogen carrier materials. Currently it remains a challenge to develop hydrogen storage and hydrogen carrier materials with adequate hydrogen storage capacities and optimum kinetics that offer a higher performance alternative to compressed gas transport, storage and delivery. HNEI is working on various hydrogen storage and hydrogen carrier projects to overcome the sorbent material challenges.
The absorbent materials for purification and separation of energy related gas contaminants such as sulfur oxides, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide must have high performance characteristics: fast sorption kinetics, high absorption capacity, high selectivity, and reversibility. The structural and thermodynamic constraints to chemical tailoring of the state of art sorbents suggest their limited potential to meet all the needs of gas purification and separation. HNEI is working on projects to develop advanced sorbents for gas purification which will enable efficient filtration systems that are selective and reversible, reducing costs and minimizing environmental contamination from hazardous sorbent waste.
HNEI is conducting research and development on novel contaminant mitigation materials in the areas of air filtration and water desalination. The goal of developing novel air filtration materials is to improve on state-of-the-art materials in both performance and environmental impact. This improvement comes through the development of novel materials capable of regeneration through photocatalytic techniques. HNEI is also developing novel, chlorine resistant reverse osmosis membranes through the synthesis of hybrid inorganic-organic membranes designed to withstand chlorine degradation and improve efficiency to lower energy requirements for desalination.