News Release: Renewable energy program with Caltech

February 10th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Chemistry, Engineering, News Release, Research, Science

Researchers at the University of Manitoba have received $1.2 million, over three years, to develop components that could be used to create a clean, “green,” renewable fuel-generating system.

Michael Freund and Torsten Hegmann, chemistry, and Douglas Thomson, electrical and computer engineering, are part of an international collaboration with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) working to find efficient ways to convert renewable energy resources: solar, electrical and wind energy into chemical fuels, such as hydrogen.

The University of Manitoba has built world-class facilities worth over $10 million over the past five years. These facilities, as well as the University of Manitoba scientists, are critical to the project’s overall success. The team received $600,000 from the Province of Manitoba: Science, Technology Energy & Mines, with matching funds from Caltech.

Freund is the Canada Research Chair in Conducting Polymers and Electronic Materials and brings knowledge and expertise in the area of electrochemistry and self assembly as well as characterization technology (x-ray photoelectron microscopy and electron microscopy). His associates Hegmann and Thomson have specialties in the areas self-assembly, organic chemistry and nanotechnology, as well as semiconductors, high frequency electronic characterization and scanning probe microscopy.

Freund notes that one way to get a clean hydrogen fuel source is by using sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. More energy from sunlight strikes the earth in one hour than all of the fossil energy consumed on the planet in a year. Missing is not the solar energy but the science and technology for its efficient widespread use. Simple high school chemistry lab experiments split water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis, typically using a.platinum catalyst which is very expensive and not practical for mass production.

Freund and his colleagues aim to develop an artificial photosynthetic system to separate the hydrogen and oxygen in the different labs containing complementary expertise. The goal will be to eventually assemble the components into a prototype of a complete water-splitting device. The development of photoanode and photocathode nanorods will occur largely at Caltech where initial progress has already been made. Characterization of the nanorods will be done in the state-of-the-art Manitoba Regional Materials and Surface Characterization and NanoFab facilities.

Freund says the overall goal is to develop viable technologies that will help transition the world’s dependence on fossil fuels to sunlight and other renewable sources of electricity. With Manitoba’s abundance of renewable resources, scientists at the University of Manitoba are ensuring that we are at the forefront of the research and development of clean energy technology.

For more information, please contact Dr. Michael Freund at: 204-474-8772.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 GreenEnergy // May 20, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Information about the different kind of renewable energy.

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