Energy consumption is vital to sustain the quality of modern societies, combined with mobility and industrial consumption, including the largest consumers in key materials sectors. EU considers the theme Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy a priority challenge. These societal needs and challenges, combined with the Portuguese dependence on imported fossil fuels, and their environmental impact, are the motivation for L2, focused on materials for renewable energies, with emphasis on:
- Electricity storage (batteries, supercapacitor) or conversion to fuels or commodities (hydrogen, syngas, raw metals) by fuel cells or electrolysis, including materials for reversible solid-electrolyte cells, and novel biobased fuel cells;
- Less explored energy sources (solar, heat, biomass), mostly based on proposals for mixed energy concepts, such as thermoelectrics/cryogenics coupled with heat/cold storage, electrolysis (H2+O2) coupled with oxysteam-gasification of biomass;
- Environmental concerns are also addressed by research on: membranes (O2, CO2) for oxyfuel or CCS-based combustion; catalytic elimination of pollutants (e.g., NOx, CO, VOC-lean combustion); electrolytic processes for sectors with high carbon footprint (steel), and for key sectors (e.g., Ti alloys); valorization of industrial wastes (e.g., Fe from red mud); regarding hazardous thermal systems, magnetocaloric and electrocaloric refrigerators and heat pumps, and solid-state thermal switches will be studied;
Research comprises a wide variety of topics and challenges, in the frame of industry-university collaborations (e.g., large project coordinated by Bosch), including the following.
a) Industrial productivity for diversified or novel markets
- Additive manufacturing.
- State-of-the-art processes for novel technologies (e.g., HFCVD or ALD for electrochromic windows);
- Upgraded materials, including hard metals and nanodiamond coatings with enhanced wear resistance);
- Novel products, such as metalized polymers by plasma assisted PVD/CVD, laser decorated glass and tableware, lightweight impact materials for aeronautics.
b) Materials and coatings with novel or highly demanding functionalities
- Interfaces with novel functionalities, such as antifouling or microbiologic agents in marine materials, food packaging, heat transfer technologies;
- Micro- and nano-sensors and devices with high spatial or time resolution for biomedicine, instrumentation, oil and chemical industries, radiation detection, corrosion monitoring;
- Enhanced durability of engineering materials with active protection or self-healing;
- Materials for harsh environments, including structural materials for on-shore or marine technologies, sensors or actuators for deep sea, sensors for high-temperature molten metals or glasses, catalysts for lean combustion.