Harvesting blue energy with fluidic NEMS

The energy of saline gradients, such as fresh water and sea water, is an alternative energy source with an enormous potential estimated to 1 TW world-wide. However this alternative energy is still largely unsued, as its capture requires the engineering and development of efficient energy-conversion technologies.
The emergence of the domain of nanofluidics (1),  combining the influence of surfaces and of confinement on the transport of fluids and ions, opens new perspectives.  Experiments on single nano-tubes have shown the possibility to convert saline gradient energy in electrical energy with power-densities exceeding by more than one thousand the capabilities of the most performant membrane-based systems (2).

This project in collaboration with the Laboratory of Interdisciplinary physics and the CEA-LETI explores the harvesting of saline gradient energy by the massive parallelization of fluidic solid-state nano-channels arranged in 3D architectured assemblies tailored to optimize fluid circulation and ions energy recovery.

During the 2-years master internship, the student will develop a numerical simulator of the selective transport of  ions in nanofluidic channels, that will be used to optimize the dimensions and architecture of a demonstrator nanofluidic circuit that will be realized by the CEA-Leti.  The student will be in charge of the development of the microfluidic setup and the first tests of the demonstrator to characterize the saline gradients energy conversion, in relation to the numerical simulator developed.

This work requires a taste for numerical simulations and basics knowledge in microfluidics and thermodynamics. An interest for experiments and instrumentation will be also appreciated.  

The internship will be performed in collaboration with Dr Cyril Picard and Elisabeth Charlaix at LiPHy, and Vincent Larrey at CEA-LETI.

(1) «Nanofluidics, from bulk to interfaces», L. Bocquet and E. Charlaix, Chemical Society Review 9, 1073–1095 (2010)
(2) «Giant osmotic energy conversion measured in a single transmembrane boron nitride nanotube», Siria et al, Nature 494, 455 (2013)
Published on March 5, 2021
Updated on September 9, 2022