MATERIALS FOR ENERGY

This research line well fits in the wider strategic action promoted by the University and dedicated to the enhancement, consolidation and rationalization of Energy related research themes. Area expertises are here oriented towards the study of materials, technologies and devices for the exploitation of renewable and alternative energies such as fuel and solar cells, innovative high vacuum solar panels and conventional (land and offshore) or innovative (high altitude) wind turbines.

As for fuel cells, current research efforts are mainly aimed at improving their efficiency and at reducing their cost and weight, with special attention in the search of new solutions for both PEM cells (Polymer Electrolyte Membrane) and SOFC cells (Solid Oxide Fuel Cells).

As far as solar energy is concerned, Materials Area skills will be devoted to the study of organic and polymeric based cells or organic/inorganic hybrid cells, that are now regarded as promising candidates for the development of low cost and/or high efficiency of solar cells, as an alternative to the more consolidated silicon technology. In this context, the proposed technologies are still not capable of guaranteeing adequate environmental durability to the developed devices, which could potentially be used as photoactive coatings on buildings and fašades. The involved research groups already possess skills in polymer chemistry and polymer matrix nanocomposites and in the study of the degradation and durability of organic materials. From the fundamental research perspective, modelling studies are currently employed to better understand the mechanisms of photo-excitation and charge transport in organic semiconductors. All these skills will be dedicated to the design of new materials for the development of high efficiency and durability photovoltaic devices.

In the production of energy from traditional sources, the development of new materials and innovative technologies to improve the performance and durability of gas conveyance and distribution networks, either new or existing, will be pursued. The topic has great relevance, since existing networks, mainly made of metallic materials, are coming to the end of their useful live mainly because of corrosion related issues.