Yang and Yin Awarded $3M ARPA-E Grant

August 26, 2015

The University of Colorado Boulder has received a $3 million federal grant to develop cooling technology that will enable efficient, low-cost supplementary cooling for thermoelectric power plants.

The grant spans three years and is from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

The CU-Boulder research team, led by Ronggui Yang, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, will develop cold storage modules and a system called RadiCold that cools by infrared thermal emission to enable efficient, low-cost supplementary cooling for thermoelectric power generation.

If successful, CU-Boulder’s design could provide power plant operators a low-cost way to supplement cooling without using as much water as they do now.

“I am confident that we will be successful in developing this novel cooling technology that could be useful for both power plants and buildings,” said Yang.

In thermoelectric power generation, only 40 percent of the energy in the fuel is used for power generation. The remaining 60 percent becomes low-grade heat that needs to be carried away by cooling systems.

There are two types of cooling systems: wet and dry. Wet-cooling systems use water resources such as a river, lake or ocean and pass it directly over tubes containing condenser water, and then return it, warmer, to the original source. Dry-cooling systems use air to cool condenser water.

Most U.S. power plants use wet-cooling technologies because water can cool better than air, which allows power plants to operate more efficiently.

In fact, thermo-electric power plants are among the biggest consumers of fresh water in the world. Forty-one percent of total fresh water withdrawal – about 139 billion gallons per day – is used to cool condenser water. Three percent of the cooling water is evaporated and lost. This has an enormous environmental impact, especially in areas already suffering from fresh water shortages. These systems also release heat waste into the environment, which adversely affects wildlife, said Marta Zgagacz, of the University of Colorado’s Office of Technology Transfer and part of the team that will evaluate the commercialization potential of this innovative technology.

Researchers say dry cooling has the potential to significantly reduce water consumption, but the high cost and low efficiency of current technologies discourage their use.

Improved air-cooled heat exchangers can help overcome these challenges. Since air-cooled heat exchangers can only cool water temperatures as low as the surrounding temperature, supplemental cooling technologies – such as RadiCold – are needed to further decrease water temperatures in certain conditions.

Methods to cool a building roof by sending long-wavelength infrared light into the dark night sky have been known for a long time. However, cooling under direct sunshine, and more critically, manufacturing these cooling systems in a scalable and cost-effective way are areas ripe for research, said Co-Principle Investigator Xiaobo Yin, an assistant professor in both mechanical engineering and in the materials science and engineering program.

A RadiCold surface, which is a metal-coated micro-structured polymer, reflects sunlight and allows radiative cooling through infrared thermal emission for both day- and night-time power plant operation.

Using the new system, a passive zero-energy consumption thermal syphon will collect cold water in a local storage unit beneath the RadiCold surface while a low power consumption pipe network collects the cold water from local storage modules into a central storage system that can be used to cool power plant condensers. Roll-to-roll manufacturing technology will enable effective radiative cooling at a low cost.

“I am excited to work with my colleagues at CU-Boulder to transform innovative materials and component research into engineering systems,” said Gang Tan, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering at the University of Wyoming. “I also foresee great potential in building energy savings by developing cooling roof and ceiling systems using RadiCold surfaces.”

In addition to these senior researchers, the team will include three post-doctoral research associates, three doctoral students and a few undergraduate students. Two MBA students from the CU-Boulder Leeds School of Business will work closely with the team on technology to market analysis.

Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship Tony Tong from the CU-Boulder Leeds School of Business is also part of the team that will evaluate the commercialization potential of this innovative technology.

ARPA-E is an agency within the U.S. Department of Energy that invests in disruptive ideas to create America’s future energy technologies. For more information on ARPA-E and its innovative project portfolio, please visit http://www.arpa-e.energy.gov/.

See more at: http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2015/08/25/cu-boulder-awarded-3-million-transformational-power-plant-cooling-technology

MSE Announces First Graduate

May 12, 2015graduation photo

The Materials Science and Engineering Program is proud to announce the first graduate of the program, Qiaoxuan Zhang, who was awarded a Master’s degree.  Zhang enrolled in Fall 2013 as the first student in the Master’s degree program and he successfully completed all the necessary requirements for graduation.  He was recognized at the College of Engineering and Applied Science graduation ceremony on Friday, May 8th.  Congratulations, Qiaoxuan!

Anseth Receives Bonfils-Stanton Award

May 8, 2015

Distinguished Professor Kristi Anseth (ChBE) was awarded the prestigious Bonfils-Stanton Award at the 30th anniversary of its Annual Award Program.  The Bonfils-Stanton Award honors outstanding Coloradans for significant contributions in the fields of art and humanities, community service, and science and medicine.  The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation is a private, non-profit Colorado-based organization with a history of funding a variety of art and entertainment institutions through substantial grants that support Coloradans exposure to arts and non-profit organizations.
Click here to read more about the award.

Photo: Business Wire

Smalyukh presented award by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

April 30, 2015Smalyukh4 2

Associate Professor Ivan Smalyukh (Department of Physics) was presented an award in Bamberg, Germany on behalf of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for his work in polymer physics.

Photo credit: Humboldt Foundation/Albrecht G.W. Barthel

Smalyukh wins Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award

Associate Professor Ivan Smalyukh (Physics) has been chosen by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award in recognition of his accomplishments in research and teaching. The award honors “scientists and scholars, internationally renowned in their field, who completed their doctorates less than 18 years ago and who in future are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements which will have a seminal influence on their discipline beyond their immediate field of work.” He is one of only eleven Bessel Award scholars chosen in the United States this year.

Smalyukh Research Group: http://www.colorado.edu/physics/SmalyukhLab/index.html


Anseth Named President of Materials Research Society in 2016

October 15, 2014

AnsethThe Materials Research Society (MRS) is proud to announce the Vice President and new Board members for 2015, elected by the Society’s global membership of almost 16,000.

Kristi Anseth, University of Colorado, will serve as MRS Vice President beginning January 1, 2015. She will lead the Board of Directors as MRS President in 2016, and finish her three-year term as Immediate Past President in 2017. More information on Anseth can be found at www.mrs.org/elections-2014-anseth.

Read more here.

MSE Director granted new patent

April 10, 2014

The CU Technology Transfer Office is happy to report that a research group led by Christopher Bowman of the CU-Boulder Chemical & Biological Engineering department recently received a patent for an improved method of detecting molecular recognition events, for use in diagnostic and environmental sensing applications. This patent is part of a portfolio of intellectual property generated by this group covering technology that uses polymeric materials (rather than conventional enzymatic amplification) to generate an amplified response to molecular recognition events in order to permit detection of low levels of biological molecules. This IP portfolio has been developed by CU startup InDevR, Inc. as part of its ampliPHOX® Colorimetric Microarray Detection system.

TTO filed this patent application on behalf of the university in Sept. 2009; in addition to two related U.S. patents, patent protection has also been granted in the EU. The patent (U.S. 8,652,778, “Use of photopolymerization for amplification and detection of a Molecular Recognition Event”) was issued on Feb. 18, 2014. In addition to Dr. Bowman, the other CU inventors on this patent were John Birks (Fellow Emeritus, CIRES); Kathy Rowlen (formerly UCB Chemistry & Biochemistry, now CEO of InDevR); and Hadley Sikes (formerly UCB C&BE, now at MIT).

New patent granted to Professor Steven George

April 4, 2014

The CU Technology Transfer Office is glad to announce that a group of researchers led by Dr. Steven George (Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry; Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering) has been awarded a patent for a process to create ultrathin metal films using atomic layer deposition – the films created using this process are especially well-suited for use as catalysts in fuel cells.

The initial patent application was filed in September 2010, and the patent (U.S. 8,647,723, “Nucleation of ultrathin, continuous, conformal metal films using atomic layer deposition and application as fuel cell catalysts”) was issued on February 11, 2014. In addition to Dr. George, inventors on this patent include Layton Baker, a former ChBE research associate now at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and two industry collaborators. Please join us in congratulating Dr. George on this accomplishment.

Dukovic Awarded Sloan Research Fellowship

February 27, 2014

Gordana Dukovic

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced that Dukovic was one of 126 people in the U.S. and Canada selected for one of the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowships in 2014. Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships are given to early career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them both as rising stars and the next generation of scientific leaders.

The winners were from 61 colleges and universities. Each Sloan Research Fellowship carries a two-year, $50,000 award.

Dukovic’s research focuses on fundamental problems in nanoscience and how they impact the harvesting of solar energy. Her lab is particularly interested in the design and synthesis of novel nanomaterials and their interactions with light that have applications for solar fuel generation.

Read the full story here.

Two MSE faculty win NSF prestigious CAREER award

January 13, 2014

Two faculty members in the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science have been honored with the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER award.

The NSF Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER, award supports junior faculty members who demonstrate excellence in research and who effectively integrate their research with education. CU-Boulder’s recent recipients are Prashant Nagpal, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, and Franck Vernerey, an assistant professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering.

Nagpal is being awarded $499,077 over five years to work on improving the amount of energy from the sun that photovoltaic panels can convert into electricity. Nagpal’s work focuses on using “hot carriers” in quantum-confined semiconductor nanostructures to capture the waste energy that cannot be captured by the bulk semiconductors used in today’s solar panels.

Nagpal also will investigate if semiconductor nanostructures can be used as photocatalysts to split water, creating clean hydrogen fuel, or to generate other hydrocarbon solar fuels using carbon dioxide, water and sunlight in an artificial photosynthetic process.

Vernerey is being awarded $400,000 over five years to develop mathematical models that can predict and control the regeneration of damaged tissues from a patient’s own cells in a hydrogel scaffolding.

Vernerey’s work could eventually enable personalized medicine by introducing a new generation of algorithms that can learn from the behavior of specific cell populations and predict the type of scaffolding that will lead to successful tissue regeneration. In the long term, this strategy could provide an alternative to tissue or organ transplants.

Laura Snider, CU media relations, 303-735-0528

– Read more here.