USDA-NIFA Supports a Center Project to Develop Biomass-based Composite Materials for Solar Energy Storage
Friday, October 28, 2022
Dr. Nurhan Dunford, Professor of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Oklahoma State University (OSU), Stillwater, OK, received a USDA-NIFA Award ($291,130) through the South-Central Sun Grant Program’s Center Competitive Grants Program to conduct a study that will develop a thermal energy storage (TES) system using underutilized resources in Oklahoma. Dr. Dunford collaborates with scientists from Ege University’s Solar Energy Institute, Izmir, Turkey.
Animal fat from various sources will be examined as a potential inexpensive phase change material (PCM). High porosity carbon material (HPC) produced from cedarwood (CW), digested sludge (DS) from municipal wastewater treatment facilities and algal biomass (AB) grown on wastewater will be used to stabilize the selected PCM and overcome leakage issue associated with the PCM. The overall goal of this project is to develop and evaluate TES materials that will store solar energy. The project specifically aims to: 1) Examine physical, chemical, thermal and phase change properties of animal fats and determine their suitability as PCM to be used in TES; 2) Prepare high porosity carbon material (HPC) from cedarwood (CW), digested sludge (DS) from municipal wastewater treatment facilities and algal biomass (AB) grown on wastewater; 3) Examine vacuum and supercritical carbon dioxide (SC-CO2) impregnation methods for their efficiency to encapsulate the selected animal fat (PCM) in the HPC; 4) Investigate physical, chemical, and thermal properties of the HPC/PCM composite materials; and 5) Incorporate HPC/PCM composite material in a model solar panel and evaluate its performance.