When Size Matters – Nanotechnology For Energy Efficiency

New research at the University of Leicester in England is using nanotechnology to create energy efficient materials. With the increasing worldwide demand for energy there is a pressure to use the finite energy resources wisely whilst reducing one of the major areas of energy consumption, transportation, which accounts for more than 20% of the world’s total primary energy and produces much of the world’s pollution.

Alternative fuels, such as bio-fuels, hydrogen fuels, fuel cells and electric batteries, being developed by the automotive industry need further development and a considerable time for their full adaptation into transportation, including passenger cars, trucks, aircrafts and trains.

A postgraduate researcher with the Department of Engineering, Sinan Kandemir is fabricating light and strong resistant materials with nano-additives to create lighter components for automotive and aerospace industries that will help improve energy efficiency, minimise CO2 emissions and preserve the environment. By using a novel processing technique, ultrasonic method, to disperse aluminium-based nano-particles homogenously through the liquid, his research promises quicker results while the industry is making advances with alternative fuels.

“The Kyoto agreement and the European Commission suggest that the automotive manufacturers should reduce their vehicle weight to minimise CO2 emissions and conserve finite oil (fossil fuel) reserves,” Sinan Kandemir explains. “Although light materials, including aluminium and magnesium, have been proposed to replace denser materials, such as steel in the automotive industry, they exhibit low strength. Nano-sized ceramic particles can be incorporated into light metals to modify the physical properties of established materials in a huge variety of automotive components.”

He adds: “These nano-composite materials save weight and offer greater performance whilst contributing to the fuel efficiency and reducing green house gases released into the atmosphere.”

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