Nanofiller-enhanced wax could be sustainable alternative for heat storage

February 26, 2020

Wax+ project led by Alexey Lyulin receives funding of over 800.000 euros.

In the Netherlands, like many countries, natural gas is extremely important for heating. However, with society shifting away from fossil fuels, sustainable materials for heating systems are essential. So-called Organic Phase Change Materials (PCMs) such as paraffin wax are a promising candidate, but widespread application is limited by their low ability to conduct heat. The Wax+ project, led by Alexey Lyulin, aims to enhance this conductivity by adding nanoflakes of graphene oxide to PCMs.

The innovative research project has received funding of over 800.000 euros from the Open Technology Programme (OTP) of the NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences.

PCMs such as paraffin wax can absorb (release) heat when it changes from a solid to a liquid (liquid to solid).  Wax+ aims to enhance the thermal conductivity of PCMs with graphene oxide, a material that has higher thermal conductivity, in the form of nanoflakes, which are material pieces with at least one dimension that is between 1 and 100 nanometres. Materials developed as part of Wax+ are expected to substantially decrease the time needed to store or retrieve energy from days to a matter of minutes.

The Wax+ research team is led by associate professor Alexey Lyulin from the Theory of Polymers and Soft Matter (TPS) group in the Department of Applied Physics and is made up of a number of researchers (Peter Bobbert, Henk Huinink, and Heiner Friedrich from TU/e as well as Bernard Geurts from the University of Twente) from the Center for Computational Energy Research (CCER). In addition, the project is supported by contributions from industrial partners such as Bosch, TNO-ECN, Nanocyl, and MDP Srl.

Speaking on behalf of the Wax+ project team, we are absolutely delighted to receive this funding, says Lyulin. “This funding will facilitate multiscale experimental and computational studies on graphene-based, heat conducting nano-scale networks embedded in paraffin wax.” The project team aims to synthesize and test composites in the laboratory, while also developing computational tools to study the graphene-based heat conducting networks using computational fluid dynamics, molecular dynamics, and quantum calculations.

The NWO Domain TTW

The mission of the NWO domain Applied and Engineering Sciences (TTW) is to facilitate applied research that yields applications and impact for people and society. The aim of the NWO – TTW – OTP program is to stimulate projects that combine science with concrete application possibilities of the results from the research. The TTW Domain of NWO provides funding up to a maximum of 850.000 euros. If the total project costs exceed 600.000 euros, co-funding by users (industrial partners) is compulsory. It amounts to 25% of the sum in excess of 600.000 euros.

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