CE05 - Une énergie durable, propre, sûre et efficace

Multiscale modeling of the radiative properties of materials for energy: impact of the texture disorder – OUTWARDS

Submission summary

The attitude of citizens towards the environment has significantly evolved over the last few decades, especially after the 1973 oil crisis. The necessity of showing regard to basic environmental policies is now apprehended by a growing number of people. However changing the habits of all the actors of the society (that is companies, people, and even governments) might be a slow process, though many specialists stress the urgency in protecting the environment and natural resources that we rely on for prosperity and, more importantly, survival. Therefore, the goal of reducing the energy consumption necessitates efficient energy uses, i.e., less energy for a constant service. Needless to say that science plays a great role in the realm of energy efficiency. In particular, research on materials for energy applications is a pillar of energy transition. New and optimized materials to reach useful functionalities — such as the harvesting, conversion, or storage of energy— are required.

In this context, laboratories and companies are showing a growing interest in technologies based on inhomogeneous materials given that these media can exhibit a wide range of thermo-radiative properties. Such properties can be engineered through textural parameters, e.g., the arrangement, size, shape, or density of the inhomogeneities. However the control on the properties is challenging because the radiative transfers occur in a disordered and multiscaled internal geometry in which the propagation and scattering of the photons are complex to model. Given this complexity, it is usual to employ hypotheses and approximations (independent scattering, effective medium theories, or geometrical optic techniques for instance) that turn out to be often questionable; for instance when the scatterers size and the wavelength are of the same order of magnitude, if the mutual electromagnetic interactions cannot be neglected, or in the presence of resonant effects. In addition these regimes may carry a large radiative weight, thus the barriers that limit the comprehension of the associated physical mechanisms must be knocked out in order to promote the design of optimized materials for energy efficiency. The only rigorous frame to achieve it is the resolution of Maxwell’s equations.

The objective of OUTWARDS is to expand the sphere of fundamental knowledge regarding the connection between the textural disorder and the radiative properties of inhomogeneous materials. The principal means to achieve this objective is the development of numerical tools capable of treating light/matter interaction rigorously in complex media. The emphasis will be on the study of matter at the wavelength scale, where the conversion and the transport of the radiant energy are particularly misunderstood. This constitutes a primary and elementary brick towards a numerical platform for the multiscaled modeling of real samples. In strong complementarity with such a numerical task, a Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer for the angular characterization of small aggregates of particles will be set up. This two-tracks approach aims at spearheading breakthroughs in order to guide the optimization and conception of new materials that result useful for the energy transition. The examples of practical applications that are susceptible to benefit from the expected fundamental progresses are numerous. OUTWARDS identifies and tackles several, ranging from the determination of the refractive index of inclusions in glass-glass/ceramics to the optimization of the emission of metal particles elsewhere envisaged as energetic vector with no greenhouse gas and ultra-low pollutant emissions. More prospective designs are also discussed, such as spectrally and spatially selective infrared microsources exhibiting a low energy consumption.

Project coordination

Cédric Blanchard (Conditions Extrêmes et Matériaux : Haute température et Irradiation)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CEMHTI Conditions Extrêmes et Matériaux : Haute température et Irradiation

Help of the ANR 235,159 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2020 - 48 Months

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