What we do in brief
- Clean Chemical Energy Research
- Energy Storage Research Vision
- Flexible Wearable Electronics Research
- 3D Printing Research
- Nanorobotics, Microrobotics, and Multiscale Robotics Research
Research vision on clean chemical energy
in Future Energy & Innovation Lab
Research vision on clean energy that encompasses CO2 conversion, hydrogen, and ammonia is rooted in the idea of finding sustainable energy sources and combating climate change. Let's break down the vision for each of these components and see how they interplay:
Thrust 1. CO2 Conversion
- Vision: Transforming CO2 from being a waste product into a valuable commodity.
- Conversion to Fuels: One significant route for utilizing captured CO2 is converting it into synthetic hydrocarbon fuels, like methanol or gasoline, using renewable energy.
- Interplay with Hydrogen: Many CO2 to fuel processes, such as the production of synthetic methane, involve the use of hydrogen.
Thrust 2. Hydrogen (H2)
- Vision: A clean, abundant, and versatile energy carrier.
- Green Hydrogen: Produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity. It's called 'green' because its production doesn't release carbon emissions.
- Hydrogen Storage and Distribution: Research focuses on safe and efficient hydrogen storage solutions, such as metal hydrides or compressed hydrogen tanks.
- Fuel Cells: Devices that convert hydrogen and oxygen directly into electricity, water, and heat. Suitable for both stationary power generation and for vehicles.
- Interplay with CO2 Conversion: Hydrogen can be combined with captured CO2 to produce synthetic fuels, such as methane or liquid hydrocarbons.
Thrust 3. Ammonia (NH3)
- Vision: A carbon-free fuel alternative and energy storage solution.
- Ammonia Production: Traditional methods (like the Haber-Bosch process) use natural gas, emitting CO2. The vision is to produce "green" ammonia using hydrogen derived from renewable sources, using electrochemical conversion on advanced catalysts.
- Ammonia as a Fuel: Combustion of ammonia does not produce CO2, making it an attractive carbon-free fuel, especially for shipping and power generation.
- Ammonia for Energy Storage: Liquid ammonia can store about 50% more hydrogen than liquid hydrogen itself, making it an efficient storage medium.
- Interplay with Hydrogen: Ammonia production can use green hydrogen, thereby storing renewable energy.
This integrated vision promotes a multi-pronged approach to address climate change and energy concerns:
- Remove CO2 from the atmosphere and either securely store it or use it.
- Transition to hydrogen as a primary energy vector, sourced sustainably.
- Leverage ammonia as both a carbon-free fuel and an efficient energy storage medium.
Collaboration between industries, researchers, and policymakers can help realize this vision, turning current challenges into opportunities for sustainable growth.
Research vision on Energy Storage
in Future Energy & Innovation Lab
Electrochemical energy storage devices like batteries and supercapacitors are at the forefront of the transition to renewable energy and are paramount for the evolution of novel technologies, such as wearable electronics and smart buildings. The integration of 3D printing into the manufacturing process offers innovative designs, reduced waste, decentralized manufacturing at any place in the world and rapid prototyping. Let’s envision the research direction and potential advancements in this domain:
Trust 1. Wearable Electronics
- Vision: Lightweight, flexible, and long-lasting energy storage devices embedded directly into wearables.
- Flexible Batteries: Research aims to produce batteries that are not only efficient but also bendable, allowing them to be integrated into fabrics or wearable devices seamlessly.
- Skin-Integrated Supercapacitors: Ultra-thin supercapacitors that can be directly adhered to the skin or embedded into wearable devices for real-time health monitoring or other electronic functionalities.
- Self-Charging Wearables: The combination of energy harvesters (like piezoelectric or triboelectric devices) and energy storage units (like batteries or supercapacitors) to create wearables that recharge themselves through user movement.
- 3D Printing's Role: Directly print customizable batteries or supercapacitors on fabrics or devices, allowing for tailored energy storage solutions depending on the wearable's requirements.
Trust 2. Buildings (Smart Buildings and Infrastructure)
- Vision: Integrating energy storage devices directly into building components for decentralized energy storage and management.
- Wall-Embedded Storage: Imagine walls or construction materials that double as energy storage devices, capturing and distributing energy as needed.
- Transparent Solar Windows with Integrated Storage: Transparent photovoltaic cells in windows coupled with integrated energy storage components to harness and store solar energy.
- Self-Powered Sensors: Miniature batteries or supercapacitors powering sensors throughout buildings for security, climate control, or structural health monitoring.
- 3D Printing's Role: Facilitate the production of unique construction components with integrated energy storage capabilities. Modular designs could be rapidly prototyped and tested.
Trust 3. 3D Printing
- Vision: Leverage 3D printing technology to revolutionize the design and manufacturing of energy storage devices.
- Customized Battery Designs: Beyond the standard cylindrical or pouch designs, 3D printing allows for bespoke battery shapes suitable for unique device form factors.
- Layer-by-Layer Precision: Enhanced control over the electrode thickness, porosity, and architecture can lead to better performance characteristics.
- Rapid Prototyping: Reduced time from design to prototype, accelerating the research and development phase for novel energy storage solutions.
- Sustainable Production: Minimize waste by using only the required materials, and potentially recycle and reuse old batteries by reprinting them.
The synergy between electrochemical energy storage and 3D printing technology holds the promise to redefine wearable electronics, smart building design, and production processes. It fosters a vision of a sustainable, efficient, and interconnected future where energy storage solutions are seamlessly integrated into everyday objects and infrastructure.
Research vision in Flexible Wearable Electronics
in Future Energy & Innovation Lab
The integration of flexible wearable electronics with cloud data storage and artificial intelligence (AI) brings about a transformative approach to data acquisition, processing, and real-time response. By weaving these technologies together, the potential benefits to telehealth, sports, astronautics, and smart cities increase exponentially. Let's envision this interconnected future:
Thrust 1. Telehealth
- Vision: An interconnected ecosystem where continuous patient monitoring is seamlessly integrated with AI-driven analysis and cloud storage.
- AI-Driven Diagnostics: Wearable sensors send data to the cloud, where AI algorithms analyze patterns and detect anomalies, potentially identifying health concerns before they become serious issues.
- Predictive Health Insights: Over time, cloud storage can compile a vast amount of health data. AI can mine this data to predict future health risks or recommend personalized wellness strategies.
- Instant Cloud Access: Healthcare providers can access patient data from the cloud at any time, ensuring that they have a comprehensive view of a patient's health history during consultations.
Thrust 2. Sports
- Vision: Athletes empowered with real-time performance insights and personalized training regimens.
- Dynamic Performance Analysis: Wearables send performance metrics to the cloud. AI then processes this data to provide instant feedback on an athlete's technique or performance.
- Injury Risk Prediction: AI can analyze long-term data to identify patterns that might suggest an elevated risk of injury, allowing athletes or coaches to adjust training regimens.
- Virtual Cloud-Based Coaching: Athletes can have their performance data reviewed by AI-driven virtual coaches that provide feedback, drills, and exercises stored and updated in the cloud.
Thrust 3. Astronautics
- Vision: Astronauts equipped with wearables that ensure optimal performance and safety in the challenging environment of space.
- Space Health: Continuous health data is sent to cloud storage, building a comprehensive database that can be used to understand the long-term effects of space travel on the human body.
- AI Stress Alerts: AI can process data to detect psychological stress or fatigue in astronauts, recommending interventions or rest periods.
- Real-time Environmental Feedback: Wearable sensors detect external conditions and relay them to the cloud. AI then processes this data, providing astronauts with immediate feedback or warnings.
Thrust 4. Future Resilient Cities and Systems & Smart Urban Living
- Vision: Citizens in interconnected urban environments, where data flows continuously, driving efficient and sustainable city management.
- Personalized City Experiences: As citizens move through the city, their wearables send data to the cloud. AI processes this data to provide real-time information or recommendations, such as traffic alerts or event notifications.
- Urban Health Monitoring: Wearables track health metrics, and AI can identify areas in the city that might be causing health issues, such as zones with high pollution.
- Safety & Emergency Response: In emergencies, wearables can alert emergency services with location and vital signs. AI can predict high-risk areas or times based on patterns in cloud-stored data.
- Data-Driven Decisions: Cloud storage provides a vast reservoir of data. AI continuously mines this data to offer insights, predictions, and real-time feedback, whether it's for an athlete's performance or a patient's health.
- Personalized Experiences: AI algorithms can tailor recommendations and insights to individuals based on their unique data histories stored in the cloud.
- Global & Instant Accessibility: Cloud storage ensures that data is accessible anywhere, anytime. This global accessibility, combined with AI-driven insights, ensures optimal responses regardless of location.
By integrating flexible wearable electronics, cloud data storage, and AI, we're looking at a future of unprecedented interconnectivity and real-time, data-driven decision-making. The confluence of these technologies will undoubtedly reshape our experiences in healthcare, sports, space exploration, and urban living.
Research vision in 3D printing
in Future Energy & Innovation Lab
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has been an influential force across various sectors due to its capacity for rapid prototyping, customizable production, and innovative design possibilities. Let's envision the implications of 3D printing in electronics, electrochemical energy storage, biomedicine, and food technology:
Thrust 1. Electronics
- Vision: On-demand, customizable, and integrated electronic devices.
- Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs): Imagine printing PCBs directly, enabling rapid prototyping and customization for specialized applications.
- Integrated Systems: Combine electronic components, such as sensors and circuits, into single 3D printed objects, streamlining design and reducing waste.
- Wearable Electronics: 3D printing allows for the creation of electronics that can be molded and adapted to specific body contours, enhancing comfort and functionality.
Thrust 2. Electrochemical Energy Storage
- Vision: Tailored energy storage devices with optimized designs and materials.
- Custom Batteries: Design batteries specific to device requirements, maximizing energy density and form factor compatibility.
- Advanced Electrode Designs: With 3D printing, electrodes can be designed with unique geometries that optimize performance and charge-discharge rates.
- Supercapacitors: Print supercapacitors with precision, optimizing layer thickness and porosity for better energy storage capabilities.
Thrust 3. Biomedicine
- Vision: Personalized medical solutions, from implants to tissue engineering.
- Custom Prosthetics & Implants: Design and print prosthetics or implants tailored to the individual's anatomy and needs.
- Tissue Engineering: 3D bioprinting holds the potential to fabricate tissues and even organs using the patient's own cells, reducing the risk of rejection and addressing organ donor shortages.
- Drug Delivery Devices: Print devices that can deliver drugs with precise dosages and release rates, providing more effective treatments with reduced side effects.
Thrust 4. Food Technology
- Vision: Personalized nutrition and novel culinary experiences.
- Personalized Nutrition: 3D printed foods can be designed with specific nutrient compositions, tailored to an individual's dietary needs.
- Novel Food Structures: Introduce new textures, shapes, and combinations, revolutionizing culinary arts and dining experiences.
- Sustainability: Explore alternative protein sources, such as plant-based or insect-derived materials, and 3D print them into palatable and nutritious foods.
- Material Innovations: The success of 3D printing in these domains will be influenced by the development of novel printable materials, whether they're conductive inks, biocompatible matrices, or food-grade substances.
- Software & AI Integration: Advanced software, combined with AI, can optimize designs for 3D printing, ensuring structural integrity, performance, and resource efficiency.
- Decentralization of Production: 3D printing allows for decentralized and localized production. Whether it's a specific electronic component, a medical implant, or a specialized food item, products can be printed on-demand, reducing the need for large inventories and long supply chains.
3D printing's potential in electronics, energy storage, biomedicine, and food technology marks a profound shift towards customization, efficiency, and sustainability. As material science advances and 3D printing technologies mature, the research vision for these domains becomes clearer: a world where production is tailored, on-demand, and seamlessly integrated into various aspects of daily life.
Research vision in Nanorobotics, Microrobotics and Multiscale Robotics in Future Energy & Innovation Lab
The realms of nanorobots, microrobots, and multiscale robotics hold immense promise, especially in addressing complex challenges spanning healthcare and environmental domains. Let's delve into the research vision for these miniature machines across the specified fields:
Thrust 1. Medicine
- Vision: Targeted, minimally invasive treatments and diagnostics.
- Precision Drug Delivery: Utilize nanorobots to deliver therapeutic agents directly to specific cells or tissues, thereby enhancing efficacy and reducing side effects.
- Diagnostic Scouts: Microrobots can navigate through bodily fluids to detect early signs of diseases at the molecular or cellular level, ensuring timely intervention.
- Surgical Assistants: Minuscule robots could assist surgeons during procedures, providing precise operations at scales beyond human dexterity.
Thrust 2. Biofilm Removal
- Vision: Eradication of bacterial colonies without damaging the surrounding environment.
- Targeted Disruption: Nanorobots and microrobots can be designed to recognize and dismantle biofilm structures, preventing bacterial persistence and resistance.
- Anti-biofilm Agent Delivery: Robots can precisely deliver agents that either kill bacteria or disrupt their ability to form biofilms.
Thrust 3. Dentistry
- Vision: Enhanced oral care and treatment through precision and minimally invasive interventions.
- Plaque Removal: Microrobots could navigate the oral cavity, efficiently removing plaque from hard-to-reach areas.
- Tooth Repair: Nanorobots might one day assist in the regeneration of tooth enamel or the delivery of compounds to halt cavities in their early stages.
- Gum Health: Robots could be deployed to address gum diseases, delivering anti-inflammatory agents or assisting in minor surgical procedures.
Thrust 4. Tumor Treatment
- Vision: Directly target tumors while sparing healthy tissue, enhancing the effectiveness of cancer treatments.
- Targeted Drug Delivery: Nanorobots can transport chemotherapy agents directly to tumor cells, reducing systemic toxicity.
- Real-time Monitoring: Microrobots could monitor the tumor's response to treatments, offering insights for real-time treatment adjustments.
- Physical Disruption: Robots might be designed to physically disrupt tumor growth or impede their blood supply.
Thrust 5. Environmental Pollutants Removal
- Vision: Efficient, selective removal of pollutants from ecosystems.
- Microplastic Harvesters: Design microrobots to recognize and collect microplastic particles from water bodies, thereby addressing this pressing environmental concern.
- Chemical Neutralizers: Nanorobots could neutralize hazardous chemicals by transforming them into harmless substances through chemical reactions.
- Active Monitors: Deploy robotic scouts to detect pollution hotspots, ensuring targeted cleanup and real-time monitoring of environmental health.
- Swarm Behavior: Taking inspiration from nature, these robots could be programmed to exhibit swarm behaviors, allowing them to tackle tasks collectively and efficiently.
- Adaptive Learning: Integrate AI to allow these robots to adapt to new environments or challenges, improving their efficiency and responsiveness over time.
- Biodegradable Design: Especially relevant for environmental and medical applications, the robots can be designed to degrade safely after their tasks are completed, leaving no harmful residues.
Nanorobots, microrobots, and multiscale robotics present a transformative vision for the future of medicine and environmental restoration. As these technologies mature, grounded by interdisciplinary research spanning materials science, AI, biology, and robotics, they hold the potential to reshape our approaches to treatment, healthcare, and environmental conservation.