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Biomass Based Composite Materials for Solar Energy Storage 

2022 USDA-NIFA Center Award


Principal Investigators and affiliations:

PI: Dr. Nurhan Dunford (Oklahoma State University)

Funded: $291,130 (Phase 1 and 2)

Start Date: 10/01/2022

End Date: 6/30/2024


Project Goal

To develop and evaluate a thermal energy storage (TES) system that will store solar energy using underutilized resources in Oklahoma. 



  1. Examine physical, chemical, thermal and phase change properties of animal fats and determine their suitability as phase change material (PCM) to be used in TES.
  2. Prepare high porosity carbon material (HPC) from cedarwood (CW), digested sludge (DS) from municipal wastewater treatment facilities and algal biomass (AB) grown on wastewater.
  3. Examine vacuum and supercritical carbon dioxide (SC-CO2) impregnation methods for their efficiency to encapsulate the selected animal fat (PCM) in the HPC.
  4. Investigate physical, chemical, and thermal properties of the HPC/PCM composite materials. 5) Incorporate HPC/PCM composite material in a model solar panel and evaluate its performance.


Expected Project Outcomes

Successful completion of this project will potentially lead to technology transfer and the establishment of a new industrial sector in the state. The HPC materials that will be produced in this project can be used not only in solar panels but also in electronics, smart building construction materials, and as adsorbents in wastewater treatment.


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