Clean, renewable, low cost and sustainable energy distribution to people all over the world is nowadays one of the most demanding challenges to mankind.
The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is a necessary, yet an irreversible process. New strategies must be implemented to properly tackle critical and technology-related issues and to drive this complex transition efficiently and smoothly. Chemistry can play a key role for facing, analyzing and overcoming these challenges. One crucial bottleneck is the availability of raw material for the assembly of the state-of-the-art devices for the production of renewable energy. Chemistry has played a leading role in the energy conversion and storage using common tools in everyday life. Chemical reactions can convert light and heat into energy by maximizing the conversion and limiting the energy waste. The Department of Chemistry of the University of Turin involves people and resources, leads projects in collaboration with industry and the community and plays an important national and international role in this field. Various projects are ongoing, spreading from the carbon dioxane capture and usage to the production and storage of hydrogen. Innovative materials for the solar energy conversion and assembly of new-generation batteries are designed and investigated. Finally, new system to minimize the thermal energy dispersion are studied, as well as, the fabrication of innovative solid-state emitters.
Electrical energy storage technologies are generally based on electrochemical processes and can be divided into two main families: batteries and supercapacitors. The two families are complementary and can be distinguished mainly by their charge and discharge mechanisms and, consequently, by the materials studied.
The CO2 capture (storage and/or reuse) and its transformation, perhaps within a single production cycle as a fuel or a fine chemical product, is one of the essential and necessary actions to reduce the CO2 environmental concentration, thus mitigating the increase in temperature projected for the forthcoming decades. It is also a low-cost starting point for the generation of fuels that respond to the requirement of "carbon neutrality".
- materials and processes for the CO2 capture, storage and reuse (Bonino, Bordiga, Caldera, Gobetto, Magnacca, Minero, Nervi, Quagliotto, Ricchiardi, Sordello, Trotta, Viscardi, Zanetti)
- modelling (Civalleri)
- materials and processes for CO2 reduction (Minero, Sordello, Zanetti, Nervi, Gobetto, Bordiga)
- materials for CO2 capture and storage (Bordiga, Crocellà)
Biomass is a sustainable alternative to fossil resources and it is becoming more important as a source of biofuels, chemicals and energy in general. Materials of vegetable origin (wood, plants, branches, seaweed, waste/waste/organic waste from e.g. the agrifood industry, livestock breeding and agricultural or forestry activities) are in fact a renewable energy source.
Most of the energy on Earth comes from the Sun. We can produce electricity through photovoltaic panels, or thermal energy in the form of thermal energy transferred to a storage tank. The knowledge of chemical processes, including light capture and heat transfer processes, is essential for a good efficiency for present and next materials.
- Materials for emerging solar cells: perovskite cells (Quagliotto, Viscardi, Barolo, Giamello, Paganini, Chierotti, Maurino) dye-sensitized solar cells (Martra, Giamello, Barolo, Viscardi, Barbero, Buscaino, Quagliotto).
- Hybrid materials for light capture and energy transfer (Minero, Minella, Martra, Giamello, Paganini, Calza, Bonino, Civalleri, Barolo, Scarano, Spoto, Mino, Vione, Livraghi Pellegrino)
- Modelling (Ferrari)
- Amorphous and crystalline materials for photovoltaic, electronical and optoelectronical applications (Benzi, Antoniotti, Marabello, Cesano, Zanetti, Scarano, Barolo)
- Materials for heat exchangers (Bordiga; Rizzi)
Hydrogen is an ideal fuel from many perspectives. In fact, it is not toxic, its resources are abundant and it is a "clean" fuel as it produces no emissions (for example, when used in a fuel cell) and it can also be produced from renewable resources.
- Materials and processes for the H2 generation (Giamello, Livraghi, Magnacca, Minero, Paganini, Nervi, Sordello, Gobetto Pellegrino)
- Materials and processes for H2 storage (M. Baricco, L. Battezzati, Rizzi, Castellero, Scaglione, Palumbo)
- Perovskite materials for fuel cells (Magnacca, Laurenti)
- Modelling (Palumbo, Civalleri, Corno)
In May 1884, piazza Carlo Felice was brightened up with incandescent bulbs, but the future of lighting today is based on solid state materials (see for example: LED for Turin project). Nowadays the innovation in the field of materials and the related technological processes allow to minimize energy consumption by using high efficiency lighting systems, where it is possible to modulate both, the power and the spectrum of the emitted light.
- Organic, bio-organic and metallurgical materials for Light Emitting Diodes (LED): from electro-emitting materials, to photoconverters, to encapsulating polymers (Garino, Barolo, Gobetto, Nervi, Volpi, Barbero, Viscardi)
- Organic and organometallic materials for light-emitting electrochemical cells LEC (Barolo, Volpi, Garino, Barbero)
The conversion phenomena of heat into electricity and viceversa are known for many materials, but in most cases they are negligible. The so-called "thermoelectric materials" are few, well defined and they exhibit significant thermoelectric effects to be used in practice to exploit principles of thermoelectricity.