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Applications of Nanotechnology in Renewable Energy Sources Exploitation

Research · October 2015

DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.1462.6008


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Steevan Sequeira
Manipal Technologies Limited


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Applications of Nanotechnology in
Renewable Energy Sources
Steevan Sequeira
Manipal Technologies Limited

Abstract: The emergence of nanotechnology in PRESENT SCENARIO OF ENERGY

th1980’s was caused by convergence of
experimental advances such as the invention of SECTOR
the scanning tunneling microscope in 1981 and
the discovery of fullerenes in 1985. Now the
nanotechnology products are used in various
fields such as medical, material science,
automobile etc. In this topic the various
applications of nanotechnology in the renewable
energy sources exploitation have been discussed.

INTRODUCTION At present stage the nonrenewable sources are

Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter most prominently used for the satisfying the
on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally world’s energy demand. However these
nanotechnology works with material, devices resources are expected to extinct or non-
and other structures with at least one harvestable by the end of year 2100. This will
dimension sized from 1 to 100nm. result in the requirement unconventional
Nanoscience and Nanotechnology can be used sources of energy. Using the present
across small things and can be used across all technology it would be impossible to harness
other science fields such as chemistry, physics, the energy to satisfy worlds energy demand.
material science and engineering. Today’s So there is a great need for improvement of
scientists and engineers are finding a wide present technology using nanomaterials.
variety ways to deliberately make materials at
the nanoscales to take advantage of their APPLICATIONS IN RENEWABLE

enhanced properties such as high strength, ENERGY SECTOR

lighter weight, increased control of light  Photo-Voltaic Cells

spectrum and greater chemical reactivity. In  Wind Energy
engineering their applications are mainly  Geothermal Energy
found in fabrication, mechanics and  Hydrogen Energy etc.


Nanotechnology will offer exciting advances

in hydrogen energy production, storage, and
distribution. In hydrogen production, processes
similar to those discussed in photovoltaic’s are
The three critical properties that photovoltaics being utilized. Splitting water with light could
must have to be effective are transparency, get rid of the reliance on fossil fuels and other
conductivity, and catalytic activity. The hydrocarbons. This process requires precision,
increased surface area to volume ratio of and at the moment, research into this
nanoparticles should enhance solar energy production method is in the early stages. One
collection and efficiency by exposing more of the most exciting areas for nanotechnology
conducting surfaces to the sunlight. The to impact hydrogen energy is efficient
research and development of solar cells using hydrogen storage. There is currently no viable
nanotechnology is probably the most technology to store large volumes of hydrogen
promising for alternative energy production. fuel because it is either too bulky or expensive.
Classic nanostructures such as carbon This is a severe limitation to implementing
nanotubes (CNT), fullerenes and quantum dots hydrogen as an alternative energy source.
are being used to make solar cells lighter, Researchers at Rensselaer have developed
cheaper, and more efficient. For example, “nanoblades” that are extremely thin, uniform,
constructing photovoltaics with vertical laying and have high surface areas. Also, scientists
CNTs greatly increases the amount of light have found that fullerenes can hold large
that can be collected. Another arena that volumes of hydrogen (equivalent to the density
nanotechnology will impact is increasing of hydrogen at the center of Jupiter). The
photovoltaic efficiency through the use of efficiency of hydrogen transport could be
materials like lead-selenide. These materials further enhanced by the use of carbon
cause more electrons (and therefore more nanotube wiring in place of traditional
electricity) to be released when hit by a photon pipelines. These lines would have increased
of light. Additionally, structural properties of strength, conductivity, and stability at high
photovoltaics can be modified using temperatures. Researchers at Rice University
nanotechnology. are examining CNT wiring for just this
purpose. Nanoparticle monitors are also being
developed at New Mexico Tech to be placed in
hydrogen transport pathways to detect
potential impurities.

help make geothermal more practical by
WIND ENERGY allowing efficient energy production closer to
the surface at lower temperatures."Metal
organic heat carriers" are nanomaterials one-
thousandth the width of a human hair, of
which some could absorb 30% of their weight
in organic compounds. In geothermal power
systems, this could help drive turbines with
organic compounds at lower temperatures.
Tests may prove the technology ready to use in
5 years on existing geothermal systems.
The wind energy is a renewable source of
energy. Wind turbines are used to convert the ADVANTAGES
wind power into electric power. Electric  The nanomaterial coating can
generator inside the turbine converts the prevent the corrosive materials
mechanical power into the electric power. from corrosion.
Wind turbine systems are available ranging  They decrease the frictional, tear
from 50W to 3-4 MW. The impact of and wear losses thus they
nanotechnology will be in the following areas: increase the efficiency of the
 For wind turbines through by using system.
composite materials based on carbon  They are extremely light
nanotubes the light weight & high weighted but are harder than
strength rotor blades can be materials like steel, iron etc.
developed.  Plenty of raw materials are
 Carbon nanotubes composites can be available for the manufacture.
used in wind turbines which can  They are durable for number of
provide excellent conductivity. years etc.
 The wind turbines life time can be DISADVANTAGES
increased by using nano paints and  Presently nanotechnology is very
Weight can be reduced by using fiber expensive as its production cost
glass and efficiency can be increased is high.
by coating  Impact of nanotechnology on the
GEOTHERMAL ENERGY environment is still unknown.
New nanotech materials could provide the CONCLUSION
efficiency boost needed to make geothermal
power a more practical energy source if  Though the nanotech products
research at Pacific Northwest National are expensive they increase the
Laboratory proves out. Geothermal power is performance, efficiency of the
renewable and produces almost no pollution.
Unlike solar and windpower, it provides steady power generation units
base-load power. But in conventional tremendously
geothermal power production, hot rock needs  Life of parts of the power
to heat water to 300 deg F [149 deg C] or
hotter. That hot rock might be found 5,000 feet generation units will be increased
beneath the ground in a few places, but
typically it's much deeper. nanomaterials may

 Maintenance of the power Alternative Energy & Nanotechnology by
generation units can be Grant E Gardner, PCOST
minimized. Harvesting the potential of nanotechnology in
renewable energy by Manzar Ahmed,
REFRENCES University of South Asia , Lahore
Carbon Nanotubes Manufacturing and ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Applications – A WTEC International Study I Thank the HOD & Staff of the mechanical
by Pulickel M. Ajayan engineering department of Srinivas Institute of
Applications of nanotechnolgy in energy Technology for their constructive suggestions.
sector by Hessen nanotech, Hessen Germany.
Nanotechnology & its application in
renewable energy by Dr. Prem Felix Siril
School of Basic Sciences IIT Mandi

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