Solar Energy and Renewable Fuels (SERF) Laboratory

The University of Texas at Austin

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Successful implementation of solar energy conversion systems requires accurate knowledge of the local terrestrial solar resource. This involves solar radiation monitoring at multiple cites across Texas with at least three band (ultraviolet, visible, and infrared) spectral resolution. In our lab we are working on developing tools for analyzing spectral solar resource for designing and sizing solar energy conversion systems including photovoltaic farms, photobioreactor farms, and solar thermal power plants. 

Solar Energy Monitoring/ Data Analysis/ System Development Tools

Interested in joining us? Solar Energy and Renewable Fuels Lab is currently recruiting exceptional Ph.D.  students and Postdoctoral fellows with following background and qualities:

1) Excellent academic record with proven record of academic research and publications

2) Excellent oral and written communication skills

3) Desire to pursue a career in academia and research

4) Background in one or more of the following areas:

             - concentrated solar thermal energy

             - environmental and water resources

             - synthetic biology and biotechnology

             - thermal fluids sciences

If interested, please e-mail your resume and personal statement to Dr. Berberoglu

Photo-electrochemical cells (PECs) offer a cost effective alternative to silicon based solar cells. We are developing novel PECs for electricity and hydrogen fuel production with superior solar energy conversion efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Concentrated solar thermal energy can be used as a primary heat source for a variety of biomass conversion technologies and industrial processes. In our lab we are developing novel uses of solar thermal energy in sustainable fuel production technologies. One specific project we are working on uses concentrated solar thermal energy for powering fast hydrothermal liquefaction process that can convert a diverse portfolio of wet organic waste such as biomass residue or biowaste into biocrude oil.

Algae are microorganisms that use sunlight and consume CO2 to grow and produce biofuel raw materials. Algae based biofuels offer more energy efficient and economically sustainable alternative to agricultural based biofuels. In our lab we are exploiting efficient and economic ways of algae based biofuel production through innovative system design and analysis as well as fundamental biological research.

Photo-electrochemical Cells for Electricity and Hydrogen Production

Concentrated Solar Thermal Processes

Algae Based Bioproducts and Renewable Fuels

Openings

We are investigating the use of non-thermal plasma reactor/generators for applications in pollutant mitigation, renewable fuel generation, and biomedical applications. In this project we are conducting (i) fundamental studies, such as the transient and spatial characterization of the generated non-thermal plasma using different gas mixtures in different operating modes of the reactor, as well as (ii) applied studies, such as modeling the current-voltage characteristics of the reactor and system design for conversion efficiency, yield, and scale-up.

Non-Thermal Plasma Generation/ Characterization /Applications

In this industrially sponsored project we are assessing the performance of a novel omni-directional wind turbine, altering the system design for maximizing power output according to local wind resource and determining the potential and feasibility of integrating co-solar power generation with this unique design.

Wind Energy Systems

In this industrially sponsored project we are simulating the absorption and penetration of near-infrared (NIR) laser radiation in human skin for accurately determining local fluence for low level laser light therapy (LLLT) applications. Moreover, we are developing inverse methods for quantifying radiation characteristics of various tissues.

Near-Infrared Radiation Transport in Tissues

In this project we are investigating the flow of emulsions in porous media. For us this problem was motivated by flow of secreted bioproducts from photosynthetic biofilms in the design and optimization of artificial leaf/tree concepts but find numerous applications such as flow of oil-water mixtures in sand or rock formations.

Transport in Vascular Systems

In this project we have been quantifying the physico-chemical surface properties of a diverse portfolio of algal cells and studying the attachment rate, density, and strength over surfaces as well as flocculation of cells for a wide range of application from prevention of biofouling of manmade surfaces, water filtration systems, to promoting the attachment and growth of photosynthetic cells for high cell density algal cultivation/bioscrubber systems.

Cell-Cell and Cell-Surface Interactions

In our lab we are interested in quantifying the rheological characteristics of complex fluids such as biomass slurries, cell suspensions, and particle suspension for engineering flow systems in energy, manufacturing, and biomedical applications.

Rheology of Complex Fluids

Using multispectral backscattered radiation we can monitor the density, health,  and productivity of photosynthetic biomass such as algal ponds, photosynthetic biofilms, and agricultural fields. This patent pending technology can be applied to monitor the health and productivity of large area photosynthetic systems.

Multi-Spectral Imaging for Biomass Density and Productivity Monitoring