Innovative engineering solutions are needed to address the global issues of climate change, security and demand of energy supply, and access to clean water. Providing these technological advances brings the opportunity for increased growth in a knowledge based economy such as Northern Ireland. This research theme is led by Dr Tony Byrne and focuses on:
- Nanomaterials for photovoltaics
- Nanomaterials for fuel cells
- Solar water splitting and artificial photosynthesis
- Photocatalytic water treatment
- Solar photocatalytic disinfection of water
- Self-cleaning and self-decontaminating coatings
- Sensor applications in clean technology
Clean technology is a term used to describe knowledge-based products or services that improve operational performance, productivity or efficiency, while reducing costs, inputs, energy consumption, waste, or pollution. Clean technology or “Cleantech” is attracting billions of dollars of investment and carries the hope of a low-polluting and sustainable future. Clean Technology deals with products and processes that offer competitive returns for investors and customers while providing solutions to global environmental challenges. Clean Technology is driven by market economics that provide greater financial upside and sustainability.
To meet the demands of Cleantech industry growth, we will need engineers with the necessary knowledge and skills to support and develop this high-tech knowledge based industry. The University of Ulster is the first university in the UK or Ireland to offer a BEng Honours Clean Technology degree. Innovations in Clean Technologies will be driven through developments in Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, and this is the where the research expertise of the Engineering School at Ulster lies.
In NIBEC, research is conducted into nanomaterials for applications including fuel cells, photovoltaics, water purification, solar driven hydrogen production, hydrogen storage and solar driven CO2 conversion to fuels (artificial photosynthesis). For example, using light from the sun and titanium dioxide (the white powder found in toothpaste and paint) one can remove chemical pollutants and pathogens from water. With similar technology, it is possible to use the sun’s energy to split water to form hydrogen. Some have predicted a hydrogen economy where in the future cars may run on hydrogen instead of gasoline and electricity may be provided by fuel cells at point-of-use. Carbon nanostructures such as nanotubes or graphene, could be used in fuel cells making these more efficient, lighter weight and less expensive than existing options.
Clean Technology at Ulster is an example of how research and teaching can be integrated in order to develop the global engineers of the future.
Ulster Business Festival: Connected Health 8th of May 2013
Dr Pilar Fernandez Guest Lecture
Dr Pilar Fernandez Guest Lecture: Solar Water Treatment Technologies At NIBEC, University of Ulster 4 pm on Wednesday 20 February 2013