2015 RU RET-E Projects

Energy Harvesting with Inflatable Windbelts

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Aaron Mazzeo

Graduate Student Mentors: Ke Yang and Jingjin Xie


Project Description: This project will involve running experiments that harvest electrical power from wind flowing across a flapping belt.  The flapping belt has magnets attached to it, which move relative to wound coils to produce electrical current.  Previous windbelts have shown potential as low-cost mechanisms for harvesting energy, and this project adds a new capability of tuning the shape of the belt with embedded inflatable bladders.  The teachers will have an opportunity to build a setup for their classroom and be able to show how the electrical power generated is dependent on changing the tension and geometry of the belt.  This project will permit the development of module for presenting new forms of alternative energy harvesting, while providing a hands-on experience that students will be able to remember.

Characterization of thermoelectric power factor

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mona Zebarjadi

Graduate Student Mentors: Xiaobing Zhang


Project Description: Thermoelectric power generators are used to directly convert thermal energy into electricity and they can be used in waste heat recovery and solar thermal energy conversion. The efficiency of the thermoelectric devices, highly depend on the quality of the materials used. Three coefficients, electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity and Seebeck coefficient are determining the materials efficiency. In the last year GET UP project we have assembled a setup to characterize the Seebeck coefficient . This year, we will complete the setup enabling measurements of electrical conductivity.

Bio-electrochemical systems for enhanced remediation towards energy recovery

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Nicole Fahrenfeld



Project Description: Traditional methods for remediating contaminated sediments require substantial energy inputs to supply the electron donors/acceptors needed to facilitate biodegradation of contaminants.  A bio-electrochemical approach is appealing because it could improve electron donor/acceptor delivery and offer the opportunity for energy capture, rather than serving as an energy sink.  Bench scale bio-electrochemical systems will be prepared and performed to determine the potential for this sustainable remediation technique in sediments with crude oil contamination.  This work builds off Dr Fahrenfeld’s research on oil biodegradation and sits at the interface of chemistry, biology, and physics. 




Graphene fibers for electronics and energy applications

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Manish Chhowalla

Post Doctorate Mentor: Dr. Damien Voiry


Project Description: Graphene has is increasingly becoming know to the research community as the latest “super” materials.  Graphene is a 2-dimensional material that is one atom thick and comprised entirely of carbon atoms.  It is called a “miracle” and “super” materials because of its amazing electrical and mechanical properties.  For example, it is can be stretched 20% of its length without breaking; is 200 times stronger than steel, but 6 times lighter, and is able to convert photons to electrical current (i.e. light energy into electrical energy).  This project focuses on fabrication and analysis of fibers made from graphene-oxide nano-sheets.


Photograph courtesy of Savannah River National Laboratory

Nuclear waste immobilization in glasses and ceramics

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ashutosh Goel


Project Description: The Hanford site in Washington is home to one of the greatest concentrations of radioactive wastes in the world mostly generated from plutonium production reactors during the timeframe, 1944–1987. The most significant challenge at Hanford is stabilizing the 5.3×107 U.S. gallons of sodium- and alumina-rich high-level radioactive waste (HLW) stored in 177 underground tanks. The current strategy is to vitrify the high level waste in borosilicate glasses because of the high chemical durability and moderate processing temperatures (1000–1200 °C). The research in Prof. Goel's group is mainly focused towards understanding and addressing the challenges being faced by scientists and engineerings in vitrification of this waste.

Monolayer Graphene Synthesis and Doping Using Unconfined Flame

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stephen Tse

Post Doctorate Mentor: Hua Hong


Project Description: Graphene, as a rising star in the fields of material science and solid-state physics, has drawn enormous research interest since this two-dimensional (2D) carbon lattice was first presumed to exist in 2004. By using our novel flame synthesis method, we are able to grow monolayer graphene on copper substrates at high growth rates in open-atmosphere environments. Our innovative multi-element inverse-diffusion-flame burner produces radially uniform post-flame temperatures and species, along with downstream methane direct injection near the substrate. Systematic studies of the effects of growth temperature, species, and deposition time are conducted. The flow field temperature and species profiles are characterized using in-situ laser-based diagnostics. Our novel flame-burner also provides us great opportunity to experimentally synthesize graphene doped with organic and metal molecules. Raman spectroscopy, SEM, TEM and XPS are employed to study the quality and morphology of these graphene-based materials.


Laboratory for Energy Smart Systems

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mohsen Jafari

Graduate Mentors: Farbod Farzan, Khashayar Mahani, Ali Ghofrani


Project Description: This project will focus on the following research topics:

  • Developing  analytic system to optimize the performance and energy consumption of university buildings.

  • Building energy consumption simulation.

  • Asset degradation in buildings.

  • Control and optimization of building maintenance and operation.

Laboratory for Energy Smart Systems

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Keivan Esfarjani


Project Description:  In the early 1900's, Szilard and Einstein developed 3 patents on absorption refrigerators in order to avoid the use of toxic gases in compressor-based refrigerators. In addition, the required source of energy to pump heat is a heat source instead of electricity. In other words, an absorption refrigerator does not require electricity, has no moving mechanical parts, and works only with a hot source such as fire!


This project has 2 parts which can be done independently

1)Performing a systematic search over the absorption and coolant materials and their range of applicability, in order to identify working pairs and their temperature range of operation, as well as their safety and cost


2)Based on the above classification, a choice of the materials will be made, and an absorption refrigerator will be designed accordingly, using a CAD software.

Emil Buehler Supersonic Wind Tunnel Testing: Simulation & Experiment

Faculty Mentor: Drs. Doyle Knight and Jerry Shan

Graduate Student Mentors: Nadia Kianvashrad 


Project Description:  Participants will to use state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics to simulate both incompressible and compressible flows.  They will then compare simulation result with experiments.  Models will be built with facilities (3D printing and CNC machine tools) available within the MAE department at Rutgers.  Experimental tests will be conducted on the models in either a low-speed subsonic wind tunnel, or the Emil Buehler Supersonic Wind Tunnel.

Percolative Dielectric Materials for Energy Storage Applications

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kimberly Cook-Chennault

Graduate Student Mentors: Udhay Sundar and Wanlin Du


Project Description:  Electrical energy storage plays a key role in electronics, stationary power systems, hybrid electric vehicles and pulse power applications. Traditionally, bulk ceramic dielectric oxides have been used for these applications, though they suffer from inherently low breakdown field strength, which limits the available energy per unit mass (energy density) and increases the dielectric loss. On the other hand, polymers have high break down field strengths, low dielectric losses and can be readily processed into thin films, but suffer from relatively low dielectric permittivity, and thus low energy densities. This project focuses on development of materials that can be applied to sub-micrometer scale commercial and industrial devices such as, high density DRAM (dynamic access memory), non-volatile memory (NRAM) and capacitors. It is well known that coupling polymer and a dielectric constant material into a composite may address some of the aforementioned challenges, though the mechanisms that lead to higher dielectric constants and minimal dielectric losses are not well understood. Hence students will fabricate and analyze composite dielectric materials with the aim of understanding the mechanisms that lead to higher dielectric constants and higher breakdown field strengths.


[1] Multi-Walled Carbon-Nanotube Based Flexible Piezoelectric Films with Graphene MonolayersS Banerjee, R Kappera, KA Cook-Chennault, M ChhowallaEnergy and Environment Focus 2 (3), 195-202