Doctorate in Applied and Engineering Physics  

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Thesis Proposal for the

Doctorate Program in Applied and Engineering Physics (DAEPHYS)

Starting in the Academic Year 2016/2017

Proposal 037

Title:Functional glasses for energy storage: elaboration, characterization and prototyping
Objectives (recommended length: 2000-3000 char):
Future energy supply and energy security will demand revolutionary advances in technology in order to maintain or forward today’s general standard of living and economic prosperity. Faced with high and rising energy prices, limitations in energy supply, and growing concerns about climate changes and their environmental- and health-related effects, the magnitude of the problems may seem daunting. Global warming is receiving worldwide attention, and means to alleviate its harmful consequences are very much in focus. Major changes in energy technology will be necessary, which will impact the global economy. Increasing world population and therefore increase in energy demand, environmental pollution caused by fossil fuels used to meet this demand on the contrary make the usage of renewable energy sources mandatory. Nowadays, solar energy is widely used in heating water, dehumidifying air and generating electrical energy for many domestic, agricultural and industrial applications.
Hydrogen has potential as a substitute fuel for petroleum; therefore, hydrogen based energy system is defined to be the technological solution for reducing emission of greenhouse gases. The system consists of the technologies on production of hydrogen using clean or renewable energies, efficient, safe and reliable storage and delivery of hydrogen, and conversion of the chemical energy of hydrogen to electricity and heat. Cleanliness of hydrogen fuel depends on which material it is produced from and what kind of primary energy is used in the production. The ideal system without CO2 evolution is the production from water by using solar radiations or renewable energies. Hydrogen is a promising energy carrier in hydrogen energy technology, and the demand will remarkably increase with the spread of fuel cells in the near future.
At the present large scale production technology of hydrogen is steam reforming of hydrocarbons due to its cost competitiveness and, therefore, processes of hydrogen separation from byproducts gases are indispensable. This proposal focuses on the developpment of new functional glass catalysts and electrolytes with efficient splitting of water to hydrogen and oxygen driven by sunlight as a pre-eminent method of solar energy storage. The proton conduction, the mechanism of the water decomposition, structural and optical properties of these functional glasses will be studied.
The main goals are :
- Using sunlight to generate molecular fuels enabling storage of solar energy.
- Elaboration of innovative glass materials with new functionalities for solar energy storage.
- Development of low-cost processing techniques.
- Structural analysis of the prepared samples
- For advancement of water-splitting as the solar fuel cycle, phosphate-tungsten-niobium glasses will be the first approach.
Framework (recommended length: 500-2000 char):
This project proposal will be done in the i3N framework.
Tasks (recommended length: 1000-3000 char):
The present proposal concerns the synthesis and physical characterizations, namelly the electrical and optical studies.
In order to achieve the principal objectives, a number of specific but interrelated tasks have to be undertaken, each with its associated operational goals and deliverables. These may be summarized, step-by-step, as follows:
Initially we will start synthesizing glass inside the A2O-BO-WO3-Nb2O5-P2O5 system (A=alkali, B= alkaline earth). Preliminary analysis on the thermal, optical and electric measurements of the glasses will be done. The result of this tasks will show how can we maximize the response.
After, a task devoted to the thermal analysis and crystallization of the glasses through controlled treatments will be done. Thermal analysis and X-ray diffraction will be performed on the glass-ceramics.
The identification of the more efficient glass and glass-ceramics for the hydrogen production will be done.
Methods and techniques
The methods that will be used to achieve the objectives of this project are divided to two parts :
(i) elaboration process ;
(ii) characterization.
The primary stage of this proposal is to develop new phosphate-tungsten-niobium glasses with good physical and chemical properties. The chemical compositions of the glasses will be formulated such as the chemical durability, thermal stability and the mechanical properties of these materials are high. The structural properties of the glasses will be determined in order to bring insights on element speciation in these glasses, its evolution with the glass composition, and its influence on the structure and the properties of the glasses. The structure of the glasses will be studied by different spectroscopic and diffraction techniques.
The secondary stage concerns the crystallization of the glasses by controlled treatments. The identification of the formed particles, their size, and the evolution of the chemical/physical glass-ceramic properties will be analyzed with the results of the structural characterization. In another stage, we examine the electrical and optical properties of the materials under study and we identify materials with good proton conductivity when submitted to water vapor. The obtained results will serve as a basis to select glasses and/or glass-ceramics promising for hydrogen production from water.
The phd student will do the following:
- Elaboration of new glasses, through melt-quenching and sol-gel.
- Investigation of the physical and thermal properties of the glasses.
- Investigation of the chemical properties and chemical durability of the glasses.
- Characterization of the glass structure by means of spectroscopic (IR, Raman, EPR) and diffraction techniques (X-ray and neutrons).
- Effect of the chemical compositions on the physical and chemical properties of the glasses.
- Composition dependence of some physical properties of the glasses under study.
- Composition dependence of the electrical and optical characteristics.
Research centre/lab or R&D unit hosting the thesis project:
University to which the thesis project will be presented:
UA - Universidade de Aveiro
DAEPHYS Scientific Domain in which the project fits:
Relation of the project to the Scientific Domains of DAEPHYS:
This proposal is dedicated to the preparation of new materials and their physical characterization with the final goal of achieve functional glasses for energy storage.
Candidate profile:
Preferential a student with Physics Engineering background.
Does this proposal involve more than one University?:
Synergies between the two Universities participating in the proposal:
DAEPHYS strongly encourages the presentation of thesis projects in co-supervision by researchers from two of the universities participating in the Program. In this field, explain the benefits resulting from the proposed co-supervision and the involvement of elements from the two universities, e.g. building critical mass teams, profiting from existing infrastructures or advanced equipments, profiting from expert technical know-how, etc. If the proposal involves only one University, write n/a.
(recommended length: 500-1000 char)
Does this proposal involve a company?:
Proposals involving a company:
DAEPHYS strongly encourages the presentation of thesis projects involving a company, preferably a high-tech company. These proposals have to: 1) be centered on a technological problem in which the partner company has been (or plan / would like to be) involved; 2) have a co-supervisor on the enterprise; 3) include part of the project to be carried out in the company.
(recommended length: 500-1000 char)



Name:Manuel Pedro Fernandes Graça
Institution:I3N - Physics Department, Aveiro University
link to CV or indication of ORCID ID:



Name:Luis Manuel Cadillon Costa
Institution:I3N - Physics Department, Aveiro University
link to CV or indication of ORCID ID:


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