Three Tuteja projects land $8.8M in combined funding from DOE and ONR

Three Tuteja projects land $8.8M in combined funding from DOE and ONR

Uncoated solar panels (labeled U) remain coated with snow during the winter, while panels coated with two different coatings developed in the Tuteja lab (labeled MC2 and MC6) are able to shed snow under their own weight.

Associate Professor Anish Tuteja's group is a partner in three projects that have recently been awarded a combined $10M in funding from ONR and DOE. Below is a description of each.

Project #1: Understanding the Principles of Solid Shedding Surfaces (Office of Naval Research - ONR)

Award: $6M from ONR

Project Summary: Solid fouling refers to the undesired adhesion of solid contaminants to surfaces. There are numerous solid foulants we encounter in everyday life. Common hard foulants include ice, inorganic scale, waxes and asphaltenes, and natural gas hydrates, while soft foulants include bacteria, biofilms and proteins. Many different surface modification strategies have been utilized to reduce the attachment of different solid foulants on a variety of underlying substrates.  However, typically they only work against a single foulant, over a small area, or for a short period of time. In this research combining simulations, lab experiments, and in-field demonstration, we will study the similarities and differences in the shedding of different solid foulants, with the aim of developing a single coating that works against a wide range of marine foulants such as proteins, algae, barnacles and ice. 

U-M's role: Says Tuteja: "Apart from developing novel coatings for reducing or eliminating the accretion of different solid foulants, we will also develop a first of its kind testing facility that compares the performance of different solid-shedding coatings developed around the world using a variety of tests that evaluates their suitability for different marine applications."

Project Collaborators: 
Dean Webster, Andrew Croll (North Dakota State University), PI
Tony Clare (University of New Castle, UK)
Kelli Z. Hunsucker (Florida Institute of Technology)  


Project #2: High value products from organic waste streams through an integrated process

Award: $2.7M from DOE (Bioenergy Technologies Office)

Project Summary: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans generate about 250 million tons of solid waste every year, of which about 15 percent is made up of food waste. These wastes can be anaerobically digested to produce biogas, but this conventional approach has many drawbacks. The bottlenecks can include low carbon conversion efficiency, inefficient product separation and CO2 emission. 

The project aims to develop a prototype where organic wastes can be pretreated efficiently, converted to target products with high rates in continuous operation, and where the desired compounds can be separated and recovered with high efficiency.

Researchers will evaluate every process in terms of economic viability and environmental impact through techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle analysis (LCA). The overall process will be tested at a 5-liter and a 50-liter scale.

U-M’s role: “In our work we have developed novel stimuli-responsive membranes that can readily demulsify virtually any emulsion consisting of a polar and non-polar liquid simply under gravity,” says Tuteja. “Next, using these membranes, we engineered a novel, easily scalable, platform separation methodology termed CLEANS (Continuous Liquid-liquid Extraction And iN-situ membrane Separation). CLEANS integrates emulsion-enhanced extraction with continuous, gravity-driven, membrane-based separation of emulsions into a single unit operation. Our results demonstrate that the CLEANS methodology significantly enhances extraction efficiency (by > 250% in certain cases) for a given system. By using the CLEANS methodology, we aim to significantly reduce the costs associated with the production of VFA’s from fermentation, and thereby significantly increase their commercial viability.” 

Project Collaborators: 
Yanna Liang, University of Albany-SUNY, PI 
Zhiyong (Jason) Ren, associate director for research, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University
Meltem Urgun Demirtas, group leader, Biopreceses and Reactive Separations at Argonne National Laboratory

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Project #3: Snow as a Factor in Photovoltaic Performance and Reliability

Award: $170k from DOE (Solar Energy Technology Office)

Project Summary: With the rapid growth of solar across northern regions, the impact of snow shading on modules is a growing concern. Published estimates of energy losses range from 1 to 12 percent annually, with monthly losses as high as 100 percent, depending on location and weather conditions; in addition, snow creates excessive and uneven stress on modules, cells and systems, the long-term impact of which is unknown.

The Snow as a Factor in Photovoltaic Performance and Reliability project aims to increase solar performance in regions of the US that regularly experience below-freezing precipitation by identifying the multiple contributors to snow losses; modifying predictive models to more accurately reflect those contributors; and proposing mitigation strategies that boost both performance and reliability. Ultimately, this project aims to further the adoption, integration and optimal operation of the nation’s solar resources

U-M’s role: According to Tuteja, “Our goal at U-M is to develop coatings that enable the rapid shedding of accumulating snow under its own weight. This would allow the solar panels to keep generating electricity during the winter.” 

Project Collaborators: 
Laurie Burnham (PI), Daniel Riley, and Thushara Gunda, Sandia National Labs 
Joshua Pearce, Michigan Technical University 
Erin Whitney, University of Alaska Fairbanks

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