Lithium batteries and Sodium-ion batteries, redox-flow batteries and super-capacitors : Materials and Technologies
The Lithium-Ion Batteries thrust treats synthesis of new materials and enhancement of the energetic performances of existing electrodes. Activities within this thrust include:
To Integrate electrochemical energy storage solutions in stationary storage of electricity to compensate for the intermittent renewable technologies in the context of their ambitious deployment scenarios.
To valorize natural/local resources from Morocco through the development and the production of high value materials which can be implanted in electrochemical storage and conversion.
To develop knowledge in a wide range of electrochemical storage materials and devices that enable the emergence of a locally owned battery materials exporting industry.
To scale up materials production in cooperation with industrial partners.
To propose a wide range of adapted solutions to local industry taking in consideration the specific local context.
Solar energy and grid systems
Tackling the problem of energy is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. The world's population is growing rapidly, and so does the need for energy.
Most of our energy today is non-renewable. It comes from coal, oil, natural gas, propane, and uranium. These materials are used to generate electricity, heat our homes, move our cars, and make all kinds of products. They are non-renewable because their supplies are limited, so they are not considered a sustainable energy source. On the other hand, energy from sources such as biomass, geothermal energy, hydropower, solar and wind are renewable, because they are replenished naturally.
The energy from the sun can be produced by converting solar photons into several forms of energy: electric, thermal, or chemical. However, the manufacture of efficient and stable energy conversion devices still encounters several challenges.
The solar energy thrust of the ENSUS Chair develops collaborative projects aimed at improving performance, reducing costs, and improving the lifespan of photovoltaic materials and systems, through improvement of manufacturing processes of existing technologies and development of breakthrough innovations.
Hydrogen & fuel cell technologies
Global warming is a serious threat to humanity's progress because of the continuous CO2 emissions into the atmosphere caused by rapid industrialization and an ever-increasing demand for energy use.
To address this issue, several solutions are being elaborated, among which green hydrogen production using the existing electrolyzer technology with PV-mediation is considered to be a promising one.
Today, however, the current electrolyzer-based H2 production uses expensive electrocatalysts made from metals that are not abundant on the planet. The ENSUS program's main objectives within the H2 and fuel cell thrust will be i. to develop nanoengineered earth abundant electrocatalyst materials with high turnover frequency for hydrogen production via PV-mediated electrocatalysis. The hydrogen produced will be further valorized for use in fuel cells in the hydrogen transportation sector. ii. to produce hydrogen and then store it by developing liquefaction technology and/or by storing in organic liquid hydrogen storage medium such as methanol.
Carbon, capture, utilization, separation and sustainable transformation
Since the first industrial revolution, anthropogenic CO2 emissions have increased drastically, mainly driven by the development of fossil-fuel-based technologies, deforestation and cement manufacturing. Indeed, the measured mean concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, in April 2021, was higher than 420 ppm, to be compared to 280 ppm before the industrial revolution. During this same time span, the global temperature increased by up to + 1.5 °C. which alarmed the global community and led to the signing of the Kyoto Protocol and later the Paris agreement. In June 2021, Morocco put forward ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) objectives, aiming to reduce its greenhouse gases emissions by 45.5 %, by 2030. In that context, the development of an economically viable carbon dioxide (CO2) capture model is key to ensure the implementation and realization of its objectives. The current benchmark CO2 capture technology uses alkanolamine aqueous solutions to chemically solubilize the CO2. This process is driven by the low cost of used solvents and their high reactivity with the CO2. However, these advantages are offset by several disadvantages, including a high energy demand to regenerate solvents, heat loss through water vaporization, and the corrosion damage caused to the pipeline by the utilization of alkanolamines.
Researchers and other stakeholder have identified the design of an economically sound eco-friendly solution with no additional emission of volatile organic compounds, VOC, as their main challenge. Recently, biopolymers which are polymers extracted from biomass, have received much attention due to their eco-friendliness and their intrinsic characteristics.
Within the ENSUS program, biopolymers economic viability and , CO2 uptake, and release energy will be assessed and weighed against benchmarks. Abundant natural resources in Morocco will be used to synthetize cellulosic biopolymer foams for designing a sustainable Direct CO2 Capture (DCC) process.
Water and energy are the two most vital resources in a world striving to provide clean water supplies and energy sources to a steadily increasing population and a globally expanding indusial sector. Thus, since extracting, distribution, and treating water requires energy, and many processes for extracting and refining various fuel sources and producing electricity use water, efforts to comprehensively understand the interdependency between water and energy are receiving more and more attention from the academia, industry and the general public. The water-energy (W&E) nexus is therefore a pivotal topic to be analyzed and studied in order to achieve sustainable resource management, especially in a context a fragilized environment and depleting energy and/or impaired water resources.
In the ENSUS chair, a dedicated thrust for the W&E nexus. The main objective is to provide stakeholders, decision makers, researchers and the general public with a critical and constantly updated account on the R&D effort related to W&E nexus occurring worldwide, with a special focus on Moroccan and African case studies. Overall, in this thrust, the nexus will be in-depth explored from various angles, namely technological, economic, environmental, societal and policy making perspectives, though contributions from ENSUS SAB and IAB members, along with other world-class scientists, and leading industrialists and policy makers.