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International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Energy and Manufacturing Engineering (ICAEME'2015) Jan.

7-8, 2015 Dubai (UAE)

A Summary Review on the Applications of

Nanotechnology in the Manufacturing of
Renewable Energy Production and
Storage Devices
Mehrdad N. Ghasemi Nejhad

improve the efficiency and performance of polymer solar cells

AbstractThis paper presents a summary review on the will be reviewed [14], [15]. Finally, the use of CNTs and
applications of nanotechnology in the manufacturing of renewable GNSs to enhance the performance, efficiency, and durability
energy production and storage devices. The use of carbon nanotubes of batteries and supercapacitors while reducing their costs,
(CNTs) and graphene nanosheets (GNSs) to improve the performance
weight, and size will be reviewed [15].
and durability of wind turbine and wave rotor blades will be
reviewed. While GNS are primary used for the performance
enhancement of the resin system to manufacture Nanoresins, CNT- II. NANOCOMPOSITES FOR WIND TURBINE AND WAVE ROTOR
Nanoforests and Nanofilms are used to improve the performance of BLADES
fiber systems in a high-performance Nanocomposites. Next, the use
of CNTs and GNSs in the manufacturing of other renewable energy A. Wind Turbine Rotor Blades
production devices; such as, proton exchange membrane fuel cells Due to high specific strength and stiffness of composites, it
(PEMFCs) and polymer solar cells as well as renewable energy
storage devices; such as, batteries and supercapacitors to improve
is advantageous to fabricate the blades of Horizontal Axis
their performances, efficiencies, and durability while reducing their Wind Turbines (HAWTs) and Vertical Axis Wind Turbines
costs, weights, and sizes will be reviewed. (VAWTs) out of composite materials. It should be noted
while the maximum theoretical efficiency of HAWTs is about
KeywordsManufacturing, Nanotechnology, Renewable Energy 59%, that for VAWT is about 16%, based on the velocity of
Production Devices, Renewable Energy Storage Devices the wind entering and leaving the turbine blades [16]. Due to
design, dynamics, and structural stability issues as well as
I. INTRODUCTION efficiency, large output power wind turbines are HAWTs. In a

T HIS paper presents a summary review on the applications

of nanotechnology in the development of renewable
energy production and storage devices. First, the use of
HAWT, the produced power is related to the blade length (R)
as the following [16], [17]:

carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene nanosheets (GNSs) to P = Cp A V 3 (1)

improve the performance and durability of composites with
applications to wind turbine and wave rotor blades will be A=R2 (2)
reviewed. While GNSs are primary used for the performance where, P is the harnessed wind energy, Cp is the efficiency of
enhancement of the resin system called Nanoresin [1]-[3], HAWT (i.e., 0.593 which is the Belts limit [16]), is the air
CNT Nanoforests and nanofilms [4]-[9] are used to improve density, A is the swept area (i.e., the area of the circle
the performance of fiber systems in high-performance generated by the rotating blades), V is the incoming wind
Nanocomposites. Next, the use of CNTs as gas diffusion velocity, and R is length of the turbine blade (i.e., the radius of
layers and CNTs combined with in-situ generated platinum the swept area). In addition, the following relationship also
nanoparticles as catalyst layers to improve the performance, exists between various 3-blade HAWT parameters and the
efficiency, and durability of proton exchange membrane fuel blade radius [16]-[18]:
cells while reducing their costs, weight, and size will be
reviewed [9]-[13]. In addition, the use of CNTs and GNSs to Blade Swept Area ~ R2 (3)

HAWT Power ~ R2 (4)

Mehrdad N. Ghasemi Nejhad (corresponding author) is the Director of the Also, for a cantilever beam the moment, M, on the beam is
Hawaii Nanotechnology & Renewable Energy, Composites, and Smart
Structures Laboratories as well as Professor and Chair of the Department of proportional to the dead and live loads applied on the
Mechanical Engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI beam, where the dead load, WD is the blade distributed load
96822 USA (phone: 1-808- 956-7560; e-mail: due to the self-weight and live load, WL is the wind/blade 75
International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Energy and Manufacturing Engineering (ICAEME'2015) Jan. 7-8, 2015 Dubai (UAE)

distributed lift load due to the airfoil profile of the blade.

Also, in a cantilever beam, the stress, , distribution can be
written as [19]-[21]:

= M z/ I (5)
where, z is the blade height coordinate system from the central
line of the blade in the blade thickness, h, direction (where, the
z-maximum is h/2), and I is the area moment of inertia for the
beam, where:

I = b h3 / 12 (6)
where, b is the blade width. Also [16]-[18]:
M ~ WD + WL (7)
Fig. 1 Evolution and growth of HAWT rotor diameter [22], [23]
Blade Weight = WD ~ R (8)
HAWT blades made of glass/epoxy composite can be as
Therefore, for a given, b, h, I, and WL and employing (6) to long as 30-40 meters while those made of carbon-glass/epoxy
(8): hybrid or carbon/epoxy composites can be made up to 90-100
~ M ~ WD ~ R3 (9) meters [24], [25]. As mentioned above, to increase the lengths
of the blades to increase the harnessing wind power, the
Therefore, (4) and (9) show that while an increase in R (i.e., above-mentioned composite materials properties
blade length) increases the harnessing wind power by R2, it improvements are needed and can be achieved employing two
increases the stress on the blades by R3, respectively (Square- technologies developed by Ghasemi-Nejhad et al. to improve
Cube Law) [22], [23]. As a result, in addition to the both resin (Nanoresin Technology) [1]-[3] and fiber
manufacturing limitations encountered to fabricate very large (Nanoforest Technology) [4]-[9] properties.
blades, there is also materials properties limitations that will
not allow the lengths of the blades exceed certain sizes due to Nanoresin Technology: Nanoresin (NR) technology employs
static and dynamic strength limitations of the external and sonication of hardener with additions of highly conductive
internal structures of the blades (it should be noted that wind Graphene Nanosheets (GNSs), CNTs, or nanoparticles (NPs),
turbine blades are often made of composite materials with and then combining it with resin to produce the nanoresin
similar airfoil as well as external and internal structures as system. Agglomeration of the GNSs, CNTs, or NPs can be
airplane wings [16]-[18]). Since 1980, the rotor diameter of precluded by employing Nanoresin Technology [1]-[3]. This
the HAWT blade is doubled every 10 years from 15 meters in technique gives structural and physical (including thermal and
1980 (producing 50 KW), to 40 meters in 1990 (producing electrical conductivities) properties improvements
500 KW), to 80 meters (the same wing span of Airbus A380) isotropically [1]-[3] to produce NR technology. Such
in 2000 (producing 2 MW), to 180 meters in 2010 (producing Nanoresins can be combined with fibers to give composites
10 MW), shown schematically in Fig. 1 [22], [23]. The with improved properties (see Fig. 2).
growth beyond 180 meters rotor diameter producing powers in
the order of 20 MW (requiring a rotor diameter of about 250
meters) and beyond requires technological advances in various
aspects of the HAWTs, including transmission and conversion,
electrical/smart grids, support structures, non-linear behavior
of electronics and electromechanical systems, aerodynamics
and aero-elastics, flow and condition monitoring (using
sensors such as LIDAR), distributed smart control strategies
for blades operations and health monitoring as smart rotor Fig. 2 Inclusion of nanomaterials in resin systems [1]
blades (including the use of smart materials such as
Nanoforest Technology: Nanoforest (NF) technology grows a
piezoelectrics and shape memory alloys as actuators as well as
forest of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) onto the surface of
fiber optics as acceleration, strain, and temperature sensors
microfibers or fabric in a CVD furnace with controlled
with remote controls and wireless communications), and
environment allowing neighboring plies to interlock with each
innovative blade structures and materials with higher strength,
other like Velcro producing hierarchical multiscale
fracture toughness, damage tolerance, fatigue resistance,
multifunctional nanocomposites macrostructures. This results
flexibilities, and damping properties [23].
in a 3-dimensional composite with dramatically improved
interlaminar fracture toughness, hardness, delamination 76
International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Energy and Manufacturing Engineering (ICAEME'2015) Jan. 7-8, 2015 Dubai (UAE)

resistance, in-plane mechanical properties, damping, III. USE OF CNTS IN PROTON EXCHANGE MEMBRANE FUEL
thermoelastic behavior, and thermal and electrical CELLS
conductivities, making the structure multifunctional (see Fig. Ghasemi-Nejhad et al. [27], [28] demonstrated that the use
3) [4]-[7]. Alternatively, CNTs can be grown on a substrate of CNTs can improve the performance, durability, efficiency
and subsequently separated and interleaved in between the of Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells while
composite layers (see Fig. 4) [8]-[9] to produce reducing their weight, size and costs.
multifunctional properties similar to those reported in [6].
These composites will also have improved EMI shielding A. Catalyst Layers
properties. Ghasemi Nejhad et al [10]-[12] showed that it is possible to
develop Catalyst Layers with a bed of MWCNT over which
the Platinum (Pt) nanoparticles can be generated using an in-
situ wet chemistry route employing chloroplatinic acid (1 wt %
in deionized water) and sodium formate (1 M in deionized
water) reducing agent were simultaneously added drop-wise
into the MWCNT dispersion to deposit Pt (20 wt %, based on
the amount of chloroplatinic acid added) on MWCNTs. This
technique produced a well dispersed Pt nanoparticle on the
MWCNT bed (see Fig. 5) leading to performance
improvement (power density) by 10%, using oxygen or air on
the cathode side (at ambient pressure and 70 oC), while
reducing the use of Pt by 50-60% as compared with a
conventional technique [10]-[12]. The performance
Fig. 3 Direct growth of CNTs on fibers [6]
enhancement was contributed to a better electrical conductivity
and large surface area of MWCNTs as well as efficient
dispersion of the Pt nanoparticles.

Fig. 4 Interleaving CNTs in between the layers [9]

B. Wave Air Turbine Rotor Blades Fig. 5 TEM Image of in-situ Pt nanoparticles developed on a bed
of MWCNT [12].
Oscillating Water Column (OWC) technology is one of the
most successful and widely studied technology for harnesing
energy from ocean waves. OWCs can be located on the B. Gas Diffusion Layers
shoreline, nearshore or offshore [26]. Incoming surface waves Ghasemi Nejhad et al [28] showed that it is possible to
induce an oscillating flow of air within the chamber which, in develop Gas Diffusion Layers (GDLs) employing the
turn, flows backwards and forwards through an air turbine Nanoforest technology [4]-[7] where MWCNTs are grown in-
installed in a duct connecting the chamber to the atmosphere. situ on a teflonized carbon paper as a porous base inside a
The turbine converts this air movement into electrical energy. CVD furnace to develop Nanoforest GDLs (see Fig. 6) leading
Variable Radius Turbine (VRT) is one of the common air to performance improvement (power density) by 10%, using
turbine used for the OWC application [26]. The turbine oxygen or air on the cathode side (at ambient pressure and 70
should be constructed to withstand the rigors of the marine C) due to a better electrical conductivity and large surface
environment and employs a combination of stainless steel, area of the MWCNTs. The authors [13] also showed that due
aluminum, and reinforced composites to resist corrosion [26]. to hydrophobic nature of the MWCNTs the Nanoforest-based
Once again, to improve the performance of the wave rotor GDLs can operate in lower humidity up to 30% producing up
blades, Nanoresin and Nanoforest technologies, explained to 70% improvement in the operation of the PEM fuel cells at
earlier here, can be employed to improve the performance, lower humidity employing conventional GDLs. Also, since
durability, and efficiency of the wave turbines while reducing the GDLs do not absorb moisture, they will have extended life-
the weight. time. This approach reduces the need for humidity and hence
the size of the humidifiers can be reduced leading to lower 77
International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Energy and Manufacturing Engineering (ICAEME'2015) Jan. 7-8, 2015 Dubai (UAE)

weights, sizes, and costs for PEM fuel cells made of turbine and wave rotor blades, proton exchange membrane fuel
Nanoforest GDL. cells, and polymer solar cells) and storages (such as batteries
and supercapacitors) devices, while reducing their weight,
size, and costs.

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International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Energy and Manufacturing Engineering (ICAEME'2015) Jan. 7-8, 2015 Dubai (UAE)

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