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The University of Houston has received a $1.2 million grant from the Office of Naval Research to help design the next generation of technologies for the alternative energy industry.
Curran’s team will be working on developing nanosensors for wind turbine systems. These sensors could be embedded in offshore wind turbines, making it possible to monitor the system’s structural “”health”” from a distance.
The nanosensors are based on polymer-nanotube composites, using their electrical properties as a way to detect changes in environmental conditions. In 1998, Curran published the first nanotube-polymer composite paper in Advanced Materials dealing with the electronic nature of such materials. That evolutionary step has taken over a decade to come to fruition. Along the way, Curran reported high conductivity composites in 2009 in the Journal of Applied Physics, and the next stage is to build the embedded sensors.
In all, the ONR awarded a total of $1.5 million to UH, the Naval Research Laboratory and the University of New Mexico to develop new thin-film solar cells, thin-film batteries and nano-sensors for wind turbine blades.
“”This is a great opportunity to develop technologies that will strengthen and expand the use of alternative sources of energy globally. With energy demand increasing, considerable effort and investment is going into new energy generation and storage,”” said physics professor Seamus “”Shay”” Curran, the lead researcher on the UH project and director of UH’s Institute for NanoEnergy. “”This project also falls right in line with the university’s education and research goals and its mission to become a Tier One institution.””
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