M2E investigates the mechanisms and processes of exchange or transformation of energy at the nano-scale, mainly between photons, phonons, charge carriers and molecules such as CO2, H2O or H2. These aspects focus our activity and interest in implementing the methodologies and processes of energy storage with real systems applicable in the different parts of the energy system such as generation, transport, distribution as well as at the final user level considering the use of intelligent gas and electricity networks as well as its interconnectivity in an increasingly electrified society.
In this context, it is highly relevant to consider as a renewable and sustainable energy source that one coming from the sun either as direct solar irradiation (photons), such as photovoltaic (load carriers) or as thermal energy (phonons) or its combination to be able to capture and store solar energy. In addition, these methodologies are also valid or adaptable for other renewable sources that produce electrical or thermal energy that allow the thermoconversion, the electroconversion and the bioconversion a part from the photoelectronconversion. Moreover, these procedures become key to establishing the requirements for a descarbonized society with a carbon based circular economy loop (CO2, reduction, fuel, oxidation, CO2) or even hydrogen (H2O, reduction, hydrogen, oxidation) – H2O) or other substances where chemical energy is produced by transformation directly from the sun by the action of photons or indirectly via renewable electricity and / or thermal energy. Thus, the research activity lines are concreted in:
A) Chemically based energy storage:
1) Solar Fuels
2) Synthetic Fuels
3) Materials, components and scalability of reactors for production
B) Electrochemically based energy storage:
1) Flow batteries for high demand energy capacity
2) Photo batteries
3) Supercapacities for high demand of power capacity
C) Fully autonomous systems for IoT applications
1) Mechanisms and Processes of transfer of energy to nano scale
2) Thermoelectricity, thermoelectric systems and applications
3) Systems of capture of energy and storage at nano and micro scale
Main research lines active in the group are:
A) Chemically based energy storage:
1) Solar Fuels: Mechanisms, Materials, Components and Devices for a Solar Refinery (“Artificial Photosynthesis”): Global aim: to store solar energy by producing solar fuels such as hydrogen, formic acid, “syngas” and methanol. Specific aims: i) hydrogen: development of knowledge and technology to achieve systems (free bias & non free bias) with solar conversion factors with hydrogen STH> 14% and costs lower than € 3 / kg. ii) CO2 reduction: development of knowledge and technology to achieve, under similar conditions, systems with solar conversion factors for STF fuels> 10%. iii) Physico-chemical improvement of the separation systems of the products derived from the CO2 photo reduction to achieve better efficiencies and yields in the final product. iv) mechanisms and processes for the self regeneration of catalysts, nano influence. v) systems for photo-catalysis.
2) Synthetic Fuels: Mechanisms, Materials, Components and Devices for the production of synthetic fuels, especially Biomethane or “Syngas”, from biogenic sources of carbon such as mud from water treatment plants or waste treatment. Development of PEM systems for electrolysis and co-electrolysis of CO2 and H2O to produce H2 and / or syngas for the synthesis of fuel. Main aim: production of synthetic fuels of biogenic origin (exempt from positive CO2 emissions). Specific aims: i) Cold plasma technology for the production of biomethane at low temperatures, adiabatic process, with high selectivity (> 98) and high conversion (> 90%). ii) Production and use of syngas for the production of methanol from the catalyst improvements, study and improvement of efficiency and productivity of the process. iii) Purification and effects of the impurities on the process itself and the catalysts used. Regeneration and life of catalysts, plasma mechanisms.
3) Materials, components and scalability of reactors for production: Global aim: Physical and chemical analysis and engineering design to achieve a modular reactor technology to optimize parameters and analysis of their scalability. Specific aims: unit cells and modules based on photo-electro-chemical and photocatalysis processes for solar fuels: i) hydrogen, ii) CO2 reduction producers and iii) modular reactors based on cold plasma units for synthetic fuels.
B) Electrochemically based energy storage:
1) Flow batteries for high demand energy capacity: Beyond the current forms of lithium technologies where energy density and power density are correlated, there are storage technologies where energy and power capacities are decoupled and allow the use of different types of materials for electrodes, electrolytes, active species and membranes, which allows to respond to many needs beyond transport where a very high energy density is a key point. Main goal: electrochemical energy storage beyond the lithium. Specific goals: i) High power density flow batteries> 1.5W / cm2 in stacks using electrolyte with high molarity with additives, wide range of temperatures, high current densities> 250mA / cm2 based on new electrode materials and improved membranes. ii) Alternative flow-based batteries based on organic, ionic and semisolid liquids. iii) air metal batteries and circular economy of its constituents and products.
2) Photo batteries: Mechanisms, Materials, Components and Devices to develop a battery with direct recharge from the solar illumination. Main objective: development of concepts, materials and systems to implement a photobattery aimed at self-consumption and / or autonomous systems. Specific objectives: i) mechanisms, materials, structure and configuration of photoelectrodes. ii) definition of a loading / unloading strategy based on different redox and electrolyte pairs. Reference will be encrypted in Vanadi. iii) modeling and engineering of prototypes.
3) Supercapacities for high demand power capacity: These types of devices become an essential tool to respond to the demand for power peaks of the current / future electric grids. General objectives: application of new Nanomaterials with very high porosity for supercapacity of very high capacity> 100F / g and many fast response times> 10V / s. Specific objectives: i) processes and characterization of nano carbon fibers and use of additives and graphene ii) implementation of prototype type cells button and punch. iii) development of flow-based supercapacities
C) Fully autonomous systems for IoT:
1) Mechanisms and Processes of transfer of energy to nano scale. Studies in nanomaterials and nanosciences. General objectives: study of basic phenomena. Specific objectives: i) control of parameters in the synthesis of materials ii) design of nano-structures iii) implementation of bimetallic catalytic materials and based on oxidized transition metal or as calcogenous (2D)
2) Thermoelectricity, thermoelectric systems and applications. General objectives: implementation of thermoelectric materials with parameters zT> 1. Particular objectives: new thermoelectric materials ii) implementation of modules iii) high temperature gradient development.
3) Systems of capture of energy and storage at nano and micro scale. General objective: materials and concepts for micro-batteries and / or microsupercapacities for autonomous systems. Particular objectives: i) materials and deposition of layers by microbanks. ii) materials and processes for microsupercap iii) implementation of autonomous systems including capture of energy, storage, sensors and communications module (the latter commercial).