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Posted: April 17, 2008
TechHorizons 2008 to present new engineering solutions
(Nanowerk News) Leading edge innovations in sustainable technologies for the environment, alternative energy, solar energy and advanced materials will be featured at UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering’s major annual technology transfer conference Tuesday and Wednesday, May 13 and 14.
Under the theme “Engineering a Sustainable Future,” TechHorizons 2008, will present some of the latest advancements from the labs of faculty at Bourns College of Engineering at UC Riverside.
The keynote address will be delivered by Associate Under Secretary for Energy Richard F. Moorer. In his 32-year career with the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, Moorer has been a leader in agencies concerned with renewable energy, biofuels and alternative transportation fuels.
To register for TechHorizons, go to www.techhorizons.engr.ucr.edu. Discounts are available for registrations made before April 30.
“TechHorizons” will also showcase the college’s collaboration with Tohoku University, one of Japan’s leading research institutions. Based in Sendai City, Riverside’s sister city in Japan, Tohoku University will participate in each of the four major sessions over the two days. The four technical areas for the sessions will be Alternative Energy, Advanced Materials, Solar Energy, and Advanced Environmental Technology.
Also participating in the sessions will be government and industry representatives who will help keep the focus on the underlying purpose of the conference, successful technology transfer. The conference is intended for business leaders, educators, investors, and agency representatives interested in new technologies in these areas and their potential commercial applications.
The following are a few examples of the work under way at the Bourns College of Engineering to be highlighted at the conference.
No one can yet make the transparent aluminum of science fiction. But Javier Garay, professor of mechanical engineering, makes transparent oxides of metals like zirconium and aluminum. He creates nano-crystalline micro structures which can build materials with the toughness of metals, high temperature resistance, and you can see through them. By changing the arrangement of molecules in the material, Garay creates the promise of transparent structural materials. This nano-engineered material also helps large-scale generators operate efficiently at lower temperatures, making them greener and safer.
For more than 50 years, the space program has been a driving force for breakthrough technologies which trickle down to revolutionize commercial products. Today NASA is funding the work of electrical engineering professor Alexander Balandin, to improve solar power in deep space probes. The government has spent a great deal – without major breakthroughs so far – on the promise of quantum dots to achieve solar cells so efficient that they can turn half of the light that strikes them into electricity. Balandin’s group is developing high-end, efficient and inexpensive solar cells, according to Balandin.
The fuel cell converts various fuels into electricity – a technology that could remove millions of gasoline burning cars from the road. Yushan Yan, professor of chemical and environmental engineering, wants to make that happen soon by working on ways to make fuel cells cheaper and more durable. To achieve that he is using nanotubes of carbon and conductive polymers to reduce the need for the precious metal platinum, and he is using zeolite nanoparticles to improve the performance of expensive fluorinated hydrocarbon polymers. Yan said many researchers around the world are looking for completely new polymers to make fuels cells more commercially feasible. But Yan does not want to wait for new materials; he wants a technology that can make an impact now, and he will bring his nanoparticle techniques to new polymers if they appear.
TechHorizons is also presented in cooperation with Riverside’s Inland Empire Tech Week, May 12-15.