Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Collaborative Research & Development | Award Amount: 533.62K | Year: 2005
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 100.02K | Year: 2013
Smart thermochromic windows whose insulation properties are tuned by the ambient temperature have been investigated extensively over recent years to improve energy efficiency of commercial and residential buildings. These windows are typically coated with thermochromic materials that exhibit a fully reversible, temperature dependent transition between semiconductor and metallic phases. During hot weather, a smart window passes all or part of the visible radiation incident and rejects the majority of the Suns near-infrared radiation; thus the need for air conditioning is reduced. During cooler weather, both visible and infrared (IR) radiation is fully transmitted, limiting the need for internal heating. A popular material for such intelligent coatings is Vanadium dioxide (VO2) due to i) the radiation stop-band manifesting in the IR region, ii) the advantage that it can easily be applied to large substrates and iii) the ability to lower its phase transition temperature by doping it with metal compounds, most commonly tungsten. Calculations have shown that a VO2 coating can deliver a 30% reduction in energy consumption of buildings in countries with hot climates such as Italy and Egypt. Nonetheless, the merits of VO2 coatings quickly diminish in colder climates and in places like Helsinki or Moscow they, in fact, deliver a negative energy balance. One very important factor for this performance reversal is the high refractive index that VO2 exhibits in its cold-transparent phase, which results in a large portion of the incident light being reflected - 30%-35% in the visible for a 50 nm thick VO2 film on glass. This figure compares with <4% reflectivity in conventional glass windows, meaning that a thermochromic window is much darker and colder than its plain glass counterpart in the winter, which in turn translates to an actual increase in the energy required for lighting and heating a building. In addition, dirt and stains further degrade the transmission properties of a smart window. In order to overcome the above limitations, moth-eye type structures engineered to exhibit broadband and wide-angle antireflection properties are proposed, for the first time, to substantially improve the currently poor transmission properties of thermochromic smart windows and to pave the way for the commercialization of this technology. Our nanopatterned windows potentially have 72% higher transmission compared to existing thermochromic windows and in addition, they exhibit simultaneous self-cleaning properties without additional processing. This challenging, proof-of-concept, 24-month research project focuses on the fabrication and characterization of smart windows enhanced with moth-eye nanostructures and is divided into two research streams: A) Fabrication and characterization of antireflection and self-cleaning moth-eye nanostructures directly onto glass, appropriate for new high-end window products. B) Development of potentially low-cost thermochromic polymer thin-film to retrofit existing non-smart windows.
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 6.19M | Year: 2008
PV-21 is the UKs inorganic solar photovoltaic (PV) research programme / this proposal is for a renewal for the second four year cycle. The Consortium has sharpened its focus on the science that will deliver our medium to long term goal of making a major contribution to achieving competitive PV solar energy. In its initial period of activity, the Consortium has put in place lab-scale facilities for making three main types of solar cells based on thin film absorbers - copper indium diselenide, cadmium telluride and ultra thin silicon - using a range of methods. In the renewal programme, these three Technology Platforms form the basis for testing new processes and concepts. To reduce costs, we shall concentrate on critical materials and PV device issues. For large-scale PV manufacture, the materials costs dominate, and together with module efficiency determine the cost per kW peak. A closely related issue is sustainability. For example the metal indium is a key component in PV, but is rare and expensive ($660/kg in 2007). Reducing the thickness of semiconductor by one millionth of a metre (1 micron) in 10% efficient cells with a peak generating capacity of 1GW would save 50 tonnes of material. The renewal programme therefore includes work on both thickness reduction and on finding alternative sustainable low cost materials (absorbers and transparent conductors). To increase efficiency we shall work on aspects of grain boundaries and nanostructures thin films as well as on doping. Nanostructures will also be exploited to harvest more light, and surface sensitization of thin film silicon cells by energy transfer from fluorescent dyes will also be investigated as a means of making better use of sunlight and substantially reducing the required film thickness to as low 0.2 microns. In order to ensure a focus on cost effectiveness, the renewal programme includes a technical economics package that will examine cost and sustainability issues. Future links between innovative concepts and industry are ensured by a producibility work package. Two highly relevant plus packages have been submitted alongside the renewal proposal, these being on a) thin film silicon devices, grain engineering and new concepts, and b) new absorber materials. The Consortium will also continue to run the successful UK network for PV materials and device research, PV-NET, which is a forum for the UK academic and industrial research communities. The Supergen funding mechanism has enabled the Consortium to assemble and fully integrate a critical mass of PV researchers in the UK, and the work packages outlined in the proposal interweave the skills and capabilities of seven universities and nine industrial partners. PV-21 is also plays an important role in skills development, with nine PhD students due to be trained in the first cohort. The EPSRC Supergen funding mechanism is absolutely vital for the continued growth and strength of the UK PV materials research effort.
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 582.00K | Year: 2006
This project will install two state-of-the-art high power lasers: a 400 W nanosecond pulsed diode pumped solid state (DPSS) laser and a 1 kW fibre lasers, both developed by UK companies. Suitable external optics and high speed CNC systems will be integrated with the lasers to form materials processing cells.The lasers will be used to carry out a number of joint projects between the applicants research group and four existing EPSRC IMRCs: Cambridge Manufacturing Institute, Scottish Manufacturing Institute, Cranfield Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre and the University of Nottingham. These projects include super-speed laser cutting, high precision laser drilling, direct laser milling, surface texturing and micro-welding. Also six companies (including Rolls-Royce, BNFL and Pilkington) are involved in the project.This project will bring five leading research groups in the UK together to tackle the chanllanges of next generation manufacturing.