EnergyBiz - November/December 2009 - (Page 46)
» TechnOLOGy FROnTieR inverse engineering and design enhancing SoLar // By pameLa coyLe a tEam lEd by thE national rEnEWablE energy laboratory is going back to the basics to try to design new, efficient materials for solar energy and other applications. it is creating recipes for them at the atomic level, molecule by molecule. the Center for inverse Design is not starting with an end concept and working back. instead, materials scientists are targeting properties of a “dream material,” running genetic algorithms with atomic variations and then handing off potential contenders to colleagues in combinational chemistry who will build the test materials one layer of atoms at a News time. First, the project uTiliTiEs BaCk ElECTriC aims to confirm that the TransPorT inversion process is posFpl group and Duke sible on general grounds, energy say they will spend $600 million “developing and testing to convert more than combination of quantum 10,000 of their company cars and trucks to ideas with biologically plug-in hybrids and inspired strategies of electric vehicles. finding a needle in a hay- Flash stack,” said alex Zunger, Center for inverse Design director and nrel research fellow. the core idea is that how the same atoms are arranged can create very different properties because different combinations change the behavior of electrons. the team will run algorithms through a supercomputer at berkeley to narrow down the 500 trillion possible layouts from 64 atomic elements. researchers will apply the approach to general optical and electronic properties of semiconductors and nanostructures without targeting specific applications. a separate inquiry involves looking at renewable energy properties such as light absorption and transparent conductors. the third generation of research will target disruptive concepts of revolutionary solar cells, Zunger said. the five-year project got started in september. nrel, in golden, Colo., will receive $4 million a year in DOe funding as an energy Frontier research Center. as part of the federal stimulus package, DOe is disbursing $377 million to 46 such centers at universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations and private firms. exploring coal Gasification partnerShip in Wyoming // By pameLa coyLe thE vaSt coal rESErvES of W yoming’S poWdEr river basin are an epicenter of new research into coal gasification technology both above and below the surface. a public-private partnership between general electric and the university of Wyoming is building a small-scale gasification plant in Cheyenne, scheduled to be operational in 2012. the $100- to $120-million project will use a high-pressure feeder pump rather than the water slurry feed system in ge’s other integratedNews gasification combined-cycle BangladEsh facilities. nuClEar a group of bangladesh separately, a deal between officials plans to travel linc energy of australia and to moscow to sign an gastech, based in Casper, agreement to develop a nuclear power plant Wyo., will bring an underground in the asian nation, gasification demonstration according to a report in Asia in Focus. project to the region. Flash 46 E n E rgyB i z November/December 2009
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