Nanotechnology, the understanding and control of matter at the atomic or molecular level, has the potential for major improvements in energy applications. Over the past 7 years, the U.S. Government has invested $8.3 billion in nanotechnology and made great strides in gaining fundamental knowledge at the nanometer scale.
An important next step in realizing the promise of nanotechnology is to improve production and manufacturing techniques for nanomaterials and nano-enabled products, many of which are “stuck at the lab scale.” The selected projects will advance the state of nanomanufacturing by improving the reliability of nanomaterials production and scaling-up manufacturing processes that use nanomaterials.
DOE national laboratories participated in the research call intending that innovative technologies developed will be further developed and deployed commercially by industry. The research call was geared toward “quick-win” nanomanufacturing projects with a realistic path to commercialization in 3–5 years.
The 20 research projects, focused in the two technical areas of concept definition studies and nanomanufacturing process development, total over $17 million in DOE funding. An additional 13 projects were selected as alternates to be developed if funding allows.
The National Energy Technology Laboratory manages the Nanomanufacturing Program and will oversee the selected projects for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Industrial Technology Program.
AREA OF INTEREST: Concept Definition Studies
Projects selected under this area of interest will produce concept definition studies for specific, promising nanotechnologies in the areas of catalysts, coating and thin films, separations media, nanocomposites, and other nanodevelopments. The studies will include technical and economic feasibility analyses as well as a complete lifecycle analysis for a proposed nanotechnology, from synthesis to disposal.
Development of an Advanced Technology to Manufacture Surfaces with Nano- and Micro-Scale Features (Idaho National Laboratory)—A unique, high-volume manufacturing technology to fabricate nano- and micro-pattered molds and dies will be developed to allow many metals, polymers, and other surfaces to be nanostructured, dramatically increasing their ability to repel water. (DOE share: $1,440,000; recipient share: $360,000; duration: 36 months)
High-Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering of Ultra-Hard and Low-Friction Nanocomposite Coatings for Improved Energy Efficiency and Durability in Demanding Industrial Applications (Argonne National Laboratory)—Researchers will test the effectiveness of a revolutionary technology in industrial-scale deposition systems high-power impulse magnetron sputtering. The intention is to achieve the highest possible levels of adhesion between superhard nanocomposite coatings and their substrates, as well as strong cohesion within the films, to prevent delaminating or cracking when used under the harsh and cycling operating conditions of advanced manufacturing and other industrial operations. (DOE share: $200,000; recipient share: $0; duration: 12 months)
Highly Dispersed Metal Catalyst for Fuel Cell Electrodes (Savannah River National Laboratory)—Researchers at Savannah River National Laboratory will evaluate the use of highly dispersed platinum on electrical conductive porous supports as a fuel cell electrode catalyst. (DOE share: $250,000; recipient share: $0; duration: 12 months)
Hydrogen and Wear Resistant Nanolaminate Coatings (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)—Superhard coatings based on sputtered nanolayer coatings with hydrogen compatibility and low friction coefficients will be created to allow hydrogen fuels to be used in a range of applications. (DOE share: $197,464; recipient share: $0; duration: 12 months)
Large-Scale Nanofermentation of Quantum Dots (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)—Nanofermentation, using bacteria to facilitate the controlled growth of nanomaterials, can be manipulated by adding chemical control agents to control particle sizes. This technology will be used to synthesize a variety of candidate materials for quantum dots. (DOE share: $250,000; recipient share: $0; duration: 12 months)
Microwave and Beam Activities of Nanostructured Catalysts for Crude (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)—Oak Ridge researchers will delineate process conditions for microwave activation of nanostructured catalysts, improving catalyst performance on models for heavy crude oil. (DOE share: $300,000; recipient share: $0; duration: 12 months)
Nanoscale Electrodeposition Process for Manufacturing High Selectivity Catalysts (Argonne National Laboratory)—Researchers will develop a new nanoscale fabrication concept for forming high-selectivity catalysts for the chemical industry which provide a high degree of control of chemical reactions at the molecular level. (DOE share: $300,000; recipient share: $0; duration: 12 months)
Nanoscale Interpenetrating Phase Composites for Industrial and Vehicle Applications (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)—Nanoscale interpenetrating phase composite components that are of usable size will be produced for applications including high-wear/corrosion-resistant refractory shapes for industrial applications, lightweight vehicle braking-system components, and lower-cost/higher-performance body and vehicle armor. (DOE share: $200,000; recipient share: $0; duration: 12 months)
Transformational Fabrication of Nanostructured Materials Using Plasma Arc Lamps (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)—High-density plasma lamp technology will be used to realize the enhanced properties of nanostructured materials over large areas, specifically focusing on a zinc oxide system for light-emitting diode applications. (DOE share: $180,000; recipient share: $0; duration: 12 months)
AREA OF INTEREST: Nanomanufacturing Process Development
Projects in this area of interest will focus on enabling processes for nanomaterials production or nanomaterial use in industrial processes. DOE national laboratories will partner with industrial companies to (1) design production systems that will generate uniform material in production-scale quantities, or (2) identify and modify promising processing techniques to handle nanomaterials at one tenth of the smallest scale in use in industry today.
Accelerated Deployment of Nanostructured Hydrotreading Catalysts (Argonne National Laboratory)—New nanomanufacturing techniques that exhibit superior performance in bench-scale testing will be used to rapidly develop, evaluate, and deploy catalysts for industrial utilization. As a pilot test of this capability, hydrofinishing catalysts for the re-refining of used oil will be manufactured. (DOE share: $800,000; recipient share: $250,000; duration: 24 months)
Application of Wear-Resistant, Nanocomposite Coatings Produced from Iron-Based Glassy Powders (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)—Nanosized complex metal boron carbides will be incorporated into a metal matrix coating and tested on full-size components with the intention of extending the life and maintenance cycle of any iron-based substrate that can benefit from improved wear resistance. (DOE share: $960,000; recipient share: $240,000; duration: 36 months)
Development, Characterization, Production and Demonstration of Nanofluids for Industrial Cooling Applications (Argonne National Laboratory)—Water-based nanofluids will be developed and tailored for industrial cooling. The nanofluid with the highest thermal conductivity and heat transfer coefficient, exhibiting no deleterious erosion, will be down-selected for measurement of thermal resistance in an instrumented heat exchanger. (DOE share: $1,000,000; recipient share: $250,000; duration: 36 months)
Erosion-Resistant Nanocoatings for Improved Energy Efficiency in Gas Turbines (National Energy Technology Laboratory)—Erosion-resistant nanocoatings will be evaluated for potential application on compressor airfoils for commercial aviation and industrial gas-turbine engine applications to enable inlet fogging in land-based turbines, leading to efficiency increases in current and next-generation technology. Reduced erosion in aviation turbines will improve engine fuel efficiencies for the commercial airline industry, leading to less fuel consumed and reduced environmental impact. (DOE share: $267,715; recipient share: $274,860; duration: 12 months)
Large-Scale Manufacturing of Nanoparticulate-Based Lubrication Additives for Improved Energy Efficiency and Reduced Emissions (Argonne National Laboratory)—Argonne researchers will develop and scale-up nanoparticulate-based lubrication additives that can drastically lower friction and wear in a wide range of industrial and transportation applications. The additives’ performance in oils and greases will be verified in order to achieve higher energy efficiency, better environmental compatibility, and longer durability in current and future manufacturing and transportation systems. (DOE share: $2,000,000; recipient share: $500,000; duration: 36 months)
Microchannel-Assisted Nanomaterial Deposition Technology for Photovoltaic Material Production (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)—Supercritical fluids and microchannel-based reactors, mixers, separators, and other process components will be used in the efficient, tailored production and deposition of functional nanomaterials with multiple uses. (DOE share: $1,971,800; recipient share: $527,380; duration: 36 months)
Nanocatalysts for Diesel Engine Emission Remediation (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)—Durable zeolite nanocatalysts with a broader temperature operating window will be developed to treat diesel engine emissions, thus enabling diesel engine equipment and vehicles to meet regulatory requirements. The catalyst performance that meets all regulatory requirements in laboratory testing will be used for dynamometer testing. (DOE share: $1,200,000; recipient share: $300,000; duration: 36 months)
Nanoparticle Technology for Biorefinery of Non-Food Source Feedstocks (Ames Laboratory)—Efficient and economical extraction methods for harvesting suitable chemical compounds, such as triglycerides, neutral lipids, and fatty acids, from microalgae for biodiesel production and single-step conversion to biodiesel will be performed via the use of nanoparticles. (DOE share: $885,000; recipient share: $232,224; duration: 36 months)
Nanostructured Superhydrophobic Coatings for Breakthrough Energy Savings (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)—Nanostructured superhydrophobic technology will be developed, optimized, and implemented for increased energy savings. (DOE share: $1,995,000; recipient share: $600,000; duration: 36 months)
Self-Assembled, Nanostructured Carbon for Energy Storage and Water Treatment (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)—A reliable manufacturing process will be developed to produce nanostructured carbon materials for use in industrially viable, large-scale applications such as electrochemical double-layer capacitors for energy storage and capacitive deionization for water treatment. The work will be centered on overcoming issues that hinder the translation of the nanomaterial production process from lab scale to commercial production. (DOE share: $1,689,894; recipient share: $480,000; duration: 36 months)
Ultratough Thermally Stable Polycrystalline (TSP) Diamond/Silicon Carbide Nanocomposites for Drill Bits (Los Alamos National Laboratory)—The thermomechanical performance of bulk diamond compacts will be enhanced by applying an advanced nanosynthesis process to manufacture superhard and ultratough diamond/silicon carbide nanocomposites with nanofiber reinforcement. The development of advanced nanocomposites with exceptional ability to resist thermal degradation and impact fracture will have significant technological implications. (DOE share: $1,200,000; recipient share: $300,000; duration: 36 months)