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FESC Research Areas, News and Expertise
FESC researchers focus on these thrust areas. Within these areas are more specific research topics. Click on your topic of interest for more information, including FESC faculty expertise and the latest research news.FESC Thrust Areas
Understanding Florida’s Energy Systems (Overarching): Enhancing Energy Efficiency and Conservation: Developing Florida’s Biomass Resources: Harnessing Florida’s Solar Resources: Ensuring Nuclear Energy & Carbon Constrained Technologies for Electric Power in Florida: Exploiting Florida’s Ocean Energy Resources: Securing our Energy Storage and Delivery Infrastructure:
Batteries and Capacitors, Digital Signal Processing, Distributed Power Generation, Electric/Hybrid Vehicles, Electroceramic Materials, Superconductor, Sensors, Smart Grid, Surface Science, Nanotechnology, Optimization, Piezoelectrics, Thermoelectrics, Thermal Management, Transmission, Wind Energy
BIOFUELS are renewable, compatible with existing energy and transportation infrastructure, have lower net emissions than fossil fuels, and can be produced from a variety of plant sources. Biofuels include biodiesel, which can be manufactured from vegetable oil, ethanol, which is produced primarily from corn, and cellulosic ethanol, which has the potential to be much cheaper to produce than ethanol, and can be produced from crop wastes.FESC faculty working in biofuels.
BIOMASS includes any organic material from plants or animals that is a source of bioenergy. Agricultural and forestry residues, municipal solid wastes, industrial wastes, and terrestrial and aquatic crops are all sources of bioenergy. Biomass is an attractive renewable energy source because it is easily acquired, and can produce biofuels using environmentally friendly technologies. FESC Faculty working in biomass.
BATTERIES and CAPACITORS. In order to provide a steady source of power, energy from renewable sources like solar, wind, and ocean, must be captured and stored as electrical energy. Advances in battery and capacitor technology will one day allow renewable energy to be more effectively stored, delivered, and recharged. FESC Faculty working in batteries and capacitors.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. CARBON CAPTURE. Carbon capture refers to capturing CO2 from large point sources such as fossil fuel power plants, and storing it away from the atmosphere using geoengineering techniques, thereby mitigating the contributions of fossil fuel combustion due to global climate change. Because of Florida’s geography, the state has great potential as a carbon storage site. FESC faculty working in carbon capture.
CATALYSTS accelerate and direct chemical reactions. Conventional energy-related catalytic processes were intended for the conversion of fossil fuel products. The next generation of catalysts will guide complex sequences of chemical conversions that can directly transform carbon dioxide into useable fuel sources, such as biofuels, using solar power. Other new catalysts are directing solar power toward the production of clean drinking water. FESC faculty working in catalysts.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. CLIMATE CHANGE. Combining energy efficiency with increased use of renewable or alternative energy sources can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the potentially harmful effects of climate change. FESC faculty working in climate change.
COATINGShave many different applications in renewable energy. Anti-reflective coatings are used to boost light transmission and improve efficiency of solar glass sheets. Other coatings protect components such as wind turbines and nuclear fuels from extreme environments. Additionally, new energy efficient building materials contain reflective and insulating coatings. FESC faculty working in coatings.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. COGENERATION is the simultaneous production of heat and power in a single thermodynamic process. Because biomass is a renewable resource, biomass cogeneration has excellent growth potential in both home and industrial settings. In addition to providing electricity, the process can heat water or space, and is especially efficient at sites where biomass is a byproduct, such as lumber mills. FESC faculty working in cogeneration.
COMBUSTION research within FESC focuses primarily on the burning of biomass and coal. Research is ongoing to improve combustion rate and efficiency, and reduce emissions. FESC faculty working in combustion
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. CONCENTRATED SOLAR POWER systems use lenses or mirrors to focus a large area of sunlight onto a small area. The concentrated light is then used as a heat source for a conventional power plant, or is concentrated onto photovoltaic surfaces. FESC faculty working in concentrated solar power.
DESALINATION removes salt and other particulates from seawater, brackish water, and recovered wastewater, making it potable. Unfortunately, the desalination process is very energy-intensive. Both solar and wind energy are being evaluated as potential renewable energy sources for desalination. FESC faculty working in desalination.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. DIGITAL SIGNAL PROCESSING promises to improve the connection of renewable resources and energy storage systems to a power grid. Presently, inverters convert direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) by mechanical or electronic means. Digital Signal Processing promises to improve inverter technology, making it more reliable, faster, higher performing, and flexible, with a low cost of implementation. FESC faculty working in Digital Signal Processing.
DISTRIBUTED POWER GENERATION distributes energy from many small energy sources. The benefit of Distributed Power Generation is that electricity is generated close to where it is used, reducing the energy lost in transit, as well as the size and number of power lines needed. Typical DPG systems have low maintenance, low pollution, and high efficiencies, and can seamlessly integrate renewables such as sunlight, wind, and geothermal energy into a power grid. FESC faculty working in distributed power generation.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. ECONOMIC IMPACT ANALYSISexamines the effect of a policy, program, project, activity or event on the economy of a given area. FESC researchers are looking at how the use of renewable energy resources will impact Florida’s economy. FESC faculty working in economic impact analysis.
EDUCATION and OUTREACH. Educational materials and programs developed by FESC are based on energy and climate research findings and analysis conducted at Florida’s state universities as well as national sources. Outreach programs are designed to deliver practical, applicable information and knowledge to targeted groups including: the general public, professionals, local officials and state policymakers. FESC faculty working in Education and Outreach
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. ELECTRIC/HYBRID VEHICLES are becoming more popular than ever before. Hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius combine a conventional gasoline-powered internal combustion engine with an electric powertrain. These vehicles have better fuel efficiency than conventional cars, and reduce emissions by turning off the engine with gasoline power is not needed, such as during idling. On the other hand, electric cars are powered entirely by batteries. They produce no emissions during operation, must be plugged into a powergrid to recharge, and have a limited range as compared to gasoline-powered cars or gas/electric hybrids. FESC researchers are working on the electric cars of the future, which may be powered by ultracapacitors and fuel cells. FESC faculty working on electric/hybrid vehicles.
ELECTROCERAMIC MATERIALS are valued for their mechanical, thermal, and chemical stability. Their unique electrical optical, and magnetic properties are becoming increasingly important in energy storage and conversion, particularly in Solid Oxide Fuel Cells, which show promise due to their high efficiencies, long term stability, fuel flexibility, low emissions, and low cost. FESC faculty working in electroceramic materials.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. ENERGY CONSERVATION AND EFFICIENCY research at FESC institutions is targeted toward developing environmentally friendly technologies and standards , including more efficient buildings, building materials and ventilation methods, especially as they relate to Florida’s hot humid climate. FESC faculty members are also involved in training building and construction professionals on new materials and methods. FESC faculty working in energy conservation and efficiency.
MODELING an be applied to energy systems, as well as each component of an energy system. Modeling generally refers to a computer program or a network of computers that attempts to simulate an abstract model of a particular system. FESC faculty working in modeling.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. NANOTECHNOLOGY is the design and construction macroscopic materials at the molecular level. Nanotechnology can be applied to many aspects of energy systems, and has the potential to vastly improve energy generation, extraction and efficiency. FESC faculty working in nanotechnology.
OCEAN ENERGY can come from wave (kinetic) energy, tidal energy, and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion. Wave energy can be used to power a turbine. Tidal energy harnesses the energy produced when the tide goes out in much the same way as a hydroelectric plant. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion uses the temperature differential between deep water and surface water to generate energy. In Florida, FESC researchers are studying ways to use kinetic energy from the Gulf Stream to generate power.FESC faculty working in ocean energy.
OPTIMIZATION in energy systems involves mathematics theory and algorithms for stochastic optimization methods, as well as modeling issues such as process optimization, synthesis, design, and operation.FESC faculty working in optimization.
PHOTOVOLTAICSis the direct conversion of light into electricity at the atomic level. Some materials exhibit a property known as the photoelectric effect that causes them to absorb photons of light and release electrons. When these free electrons are captured, an electric current results that can be used as electricity. Photovoltaic solar power may be the fastest growing power-generation technology in the world. FESC faculty working in photovoltaics.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas PIEZOELECTRICS uses materials such as specialized ceramics or crystals to generate an electric field or electric potential. It can be applied to the generation of high voltages, electronic frequency generation, and sensors. FESC faculty working in piezoelectrics
POWER research within FESC focuses primarily on optimizing power quality, reliability, and transport. There is also a special emphasis on thermodynamics, specifically focusing on heat transfer and alternative power systems such as solar thermal. FESC faculty working in power.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. QUANTUM DYNAMICS is the study of the dynamics of mesoscopic objects, objects who are neither macroscopic, nor microscopic, and so cannot be accurately described by either classical dynamics or quantum mechanics. FESC researchers are studying the aspects of light in order to improve solar energy harnessing techniques. FESC faculty working on Quantum Dynamics.
A RECTENNA is a rectifying antenna, a special type of antenna that is used to directly convert microwave energy into DC electricity. Rectennas are highly efficient at converting microwave energy to electricity as thus are important for addressing energy needs. FESC faculty working on Rectennas.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. RISK ASSESSMENT is the determination of quantitative or qualitative value of risk related to a concrete situation and a recognized threat. Risk assessment and development of risk management strategies are essential components of solving energy challenges at FESC. FESC faculty working on Risk Assessment.
A SENSOR is a device that measures a physical quantity and converts it into a signal which can be read by an observer or by an instrument. Current FESC research focuses on nano-sensors and sensors for hydrogen networks. FESC faculty working on Sensors.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. A SMART GRID delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital technology to control appliances at consumers’ homes to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability and transparency. Such a modernized electricity network is being promoted by many governments as a way of addressing energy independence, global warming and emerging resilience issues. FESC faculty working on Smart Grid.
SOLAR THERMALenergy is a technology for harnessing solar energy for thermal energy. This usually involves concentrating sunlight on a relatively small area to create the high temperatures needs to vaporize water or other fluids to drive a turbine for generation of electric power.FESC faculty working on Solar Thermal.
Back to FESC Thrust Areas. SUPERCONDUCTOR is a synthetic material that has very low or no electrical resistance. Such experimental materials are being investigated in laboratories to see if they can be created at near room temperatures. If such a superconductor can be found, electrical transmission lines with no little or no resistance may be built, thus conserving energy usually lost in transmission. Superconductors could also have uses in computer chips, solid state devices and electrical motors or generators. FESC faculty working on Superconductors.
SURFACE SCIENCE is the study of physical and chemical phenomena that occur at the interface of two phases, including solid-liquid interfaces, solid-gad interfaces, solid-vacuum interfaces, and liquid-gas interfaces.FESC faculty working on Surface Science.
THERMAL MANAGEMENT is important in optimizing the performance and reducing life cycle costs of advanced fuel cell, hybrid electric and electric vehicles. Both temperature and temperature uniformity affect the performance and life of energy storage devices and vehicles. FESC faculty working in thermal management.
TheTHERMOELECTRIC effect refers to a class of phenomena in which a temperature difference creates an electric potential, or an electric potential creates a temperature difference. A material which is inexpensive and has a strong thermoelectric effect could potentially be used for large-scale thermoelectric power generation from waste heat in power plants and cars. FESC research focuses primarily on thermoelectric materials for power generation. FESC faculty working in thermoelectrics.
TRANSMISSIONrefers to the bulk transfer of electrical energy from generating power plants to substations and customers. Important aspects of transmission research include sensors for measuring system conditions; electric power equipment such as transformers and fault current limiters that regulate power flow; computerized monitoring equipment that enables system operators to “see” the grid in real time and make necessary adjustments; and market mechanisms that promote efficiency and reliability and control systems to protect energy infrastructure. Additionally, FESC researchers are studying wireless power transmission, where electrical energy is transmitted without interconnecting wires. FESC faculty working on transmission.
URBAN DESIGN experts at FESC seek to develop a built environment that complies with the principles of economic, social, and ecological sustainability. Urban design utilizes sustainable energy technologies such as solar, wind, geothermal, and bioenergy. FESC faculty working in urban design. Back to FESC Thrust Areas.
WASTE TO ENERGYis the process of creating energy in the form of electricity or heat from the incineration of a waste source such as a landfill. Most waste-to-energy processes produce electricity through combustion, or produce a combustible fuel commodity, such as ethanol. FESC faculty working in waste to energy
WIND ENERGYcan be converted to power using wind turbines to make electricity, wind mills for mechanical power, wind pumps for pumping water or drainage, or even sails to propel ships. Wind energy is plentiful, renewable, clean, and produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation. FESC research focuses on turbine design and wind farm layout. FESC faculty working in wind energy.