Renewable energy includes sunlight, wind, tidal, and geothermal-based sources. In this ever-developing market, evolving technologies for energy collection and storage drive material requirements for thermal, mechanical, chemical, electrical, magnetic, and optical properties. CeraNova’s processing technologies can provide the material properties and product performance required to address the application requirements for a number of renewable energy technologies.
Photovoltaics convert light energy directly into electrical current. The ever-changing advances of PVs use an array of materials and processing technologies to improve conversion efficiencies or to reduce costs, or both. Moving from single-crystal technologies to polycrystalline ceramics is being explored to improve PVs. Solar power systems that use concentrating lenses and mirrors require ceramics to handle the temperatures and precision that is required. CeraNova’s optical ceramics may provide an advantage in allowing selective energy bands to be concentrated and improve the PV system’s efficiency.
Solar Collector Components
Concentrated solar power is achieved by the use of solar collectors directing large areas of the sun’s energy to small precise targets. The collectors often consist of a solid or gas that is heated to extreme temperatures allowing the heat to be extracted for different energy needs. As the temperature requirements increase, the solid materials or the containment of the gaseous phase requires thermal and chemical resistant (and sometimes optical) properties that can only be provided by ceramics.
One of the areas being explored to advance the performance of lithium ion batteries is thorough the use of ceramic oxide electrolytes. Solid electrolytes have some advantages over their polymer counterparts including simpler designs and safer operation. Lithium-beta alumina has been shown to possess very high Li-ion conductivity and is thus a potential candidate as an electrolyte in Li-ion batteries. It may be possible to extend CeraNova’s proprietary processes for manufacturing nanostructured ceramics to other forms of alumina which could in turn offer potential benefits for advanced lithium ion batteries. .
Fuel cells convert chemical energy from a fuel (usually hydrogen) into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen. Fuel cells differ from batteries since they continuously require fuel and oxygen to produce an electromotive force (emf) and electricity. Fuel cells are currently used as backup power sources for buildings. In an increasing number of applications, fuel cells are powering vehicles for everyday transportation, for indoor industrial vehicles, and military equipment and vessels.
Fuel cells consist of an electrolyte that allows charges to move between an anode and a cathode. An external electrical circuit is produced by connecting the anode and cathode. Ceramics are used for the electrolyte, but can also form the anode and cathodes.
High Intensity LEDs
LED applications are growing at a rapid pace, particularly in the area of general lighting. Ceramics are playing a few key roles in the LED market, especially in high intensity applications including heat dissipation and wavelength up-converting. In recent years, advancements in ceramics are allowing direct bonding of circuitry to ceramic heat sinks, removing thermal barriers that can reduce cooling efficiency. Most LED wavelength up-converting covers consist of silicone products, but in high-intensity and high-temperature applications, ceramics provide a means to provide the necessary elements that convert UV energy being emitted by the LED to an appealing visible wavelength color.
Gas Discharge Lamps
For decades, the yellow-color, high-pressure sodium lamps and the white-light, high-pressure, mercury-vapor lamps that light streets and parking lots worldwide are being replaced by more efficient types of lighting. A sintered translucent alumina tube contains gases that emit light when heated in an electric field. Based on the same type of design and operation, metal-halide lamps have become more popular which are continuously being improved. Today, ceramic discharge metal-halide lamps or ceramic metal-halide lamps have been introduced with higher output efficiency and continue to use alumina to contain the high-temperature gases and plasma. This type of lighting can be found in lighting for streets, for architectural effects, and for agricultural uses. Smaller markets include flat panel displays, movie theater projection, industrial building lighting, and professional photography.
Advanced Fossil Fuel Extraction
CeraNova’s proprietary processing technologies enable the fabrication of fine grain ceramic components with highly controlled porosity. The designed pore structures of these materials can be tailored to provide pressure-drop control and filtration for fluids in deep well, shale oil, or gas extraction. These unique materials can also be used as structural ceramic components in numerous types of high-temperature applications. These structures have been explored for use in a number of applications such as petroleum product exploration and extraction.
The energy market will continue to be a huge growth area as the demand for energy continues to increase, and along with it, the demand for cleaner and renewable energy sources. The wide-ranging flexibility for product design afforded by CeraNova’s near-net shape forming processes enables a broad range of components and devices for energy-related applications. Components made with CeraLumina can provide electrical and physical barriers in energy storage devices without degrading or reacting with other components and materials within the system.
Extreme Environment Gas and Liquid Filters
As opposed to electronic signal filters, CeraNova’s interests are in the area of barrier filters. The filtration method involves passing a gas or fluid through a porous ceramic; the ceramic blocks the passage of anything larger than the pore size. Filters can remove dust particles, pollen, bacteria, protozoa, and microbial cysts from gases and fluids, though smaller matter may pass through, including viruses. In some cases, the ceramic may contain stable silver compounds that can destroy bacteria and prevent the growth of mold and algae within the filter.
Filters are designed to specifications that consider removal efficiency, flow rates, pressure drop, durability, corrosion resistance, and operating temperature and pressure. Ceramic filters meet the stringent demands of the most stringent applications, due to their high strength and stiffness, chemical inertness, and corrosion resistance all lending to very high durability. CeraNova’s ceramic powder processing techniques produce highly controlled porosity well suited for any advanced filtration application.