New Energy Technologies (Renewable)

The interest of the New Energy Technologies Group is on advanced energy systems, in particular nanomaterials for energy devices, sustainable energy systems, and multidisciplinary energy science.
Energy Technology Detail

Research on new energy technologies at Otaniemi Campus was originally initiated at the Department of Engineering Physics (Helsinki University of Technology) in 1979. Early work included solar energy and energy storage. 

The current research focus is on solar cells and fuel cells (materials and devices), and complex systemic issues with large-scale renewable energy schemes (systems). Specific topics include flexible and wearable nano-solar cells, nano-composites for low-temperature solid oxide fuel cells, energy-flexibility, energy frugality,.

The group is responsible for advanced and renewable energy teaching both on undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels within the PHYS-Programme in Engineering Physics. A specialization package in new energy technologies is provided. The group is also coordinating the Multidisciplinary Energy Sciences M.Sc. minor offered to all Aalto U students.

Group leader professor Peter Lund

Group leader

Peter Lund

The group is lead by Professor Peter D. Lund. Key people in the group include University Lecturer (Mr.) Janne Halme (solar cells), Research Fellow (Mrs.) Kati Miettunen (solar cells), Research Coordinator (Mr.) Imran Asghar (fuel cells), Post-Doc (Mrs.) Kerttu Aitola (solar cells). In addition, seven doctoral students (+four at VTT) and several B.Sc. and M.Sc-level research assistants are enrolled in the group. International visiting researchers are hosted on regular basis. Docents (adjunct) are Dr. Hannele Holttinen (VTT, wind power), Dr. Janne Halme (Aalto U, solar energy), Dr. Kati Miettunen (Aalto U/CHEM, solar cells), Dr. Imran Asghar (Aalto U, nanomaterials for energy).

Research

Dye-sensitized and perovskite nanostructured solar cells

A dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) is a molecular level electrochemical solar cell, where light absorption and current generation occurs in dye molecules attached to a nanostructured TiO2 electrode. Main advantages are a rather good efficiency with simple manufacturing methods, economic and abundant materials, and lending to high throughput roll-to-roll production.  DSSC research requires multidisciplinary research e.g. combining physics, chemistry, materials, end engineering.

The work on DSSCs was initiated in our group in 2001. The research focus is on cell materials and preparation methods, impedance spectroscopy of charge transport in the cells, optical characterization of the cells and identification of factors affecting their long-term stability. Special emphasis is laid on flexible DSSCs, e.g., on plastic or metal sheets  (collaboration with industries) and new materials, e.g. cobalt-complexes, perovskites. The efficiency obtained with our metal-based DSSCs is among the best in the world.

Key research topics include:

  • Flexible substrates incl. upscaling
  • Degradation mechanisms and long-term stability
  • Alternative materials
  • Charge transport processes 

Research highlights:

  • Carbon-nanostructured counter electrode
  • Fully flexible solar cell
  • Solar cell on paper
  • Stability and life-time models

Contact persons: Dr. Janne Halme, Dr. Kati Miettunen, Dr. Ghufran Hashmi, Professor Peter Lund ([email protected])

Low-temperature nanoceramic fuel cells

Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that convert the chemical energy of fuel and oxidant directly into electricity and heat. Fuel cells offer high efficiency, low emissions, modularity and quiet operation. Fuel cells are a promising candidate for powering a wide range of applications, from portable electronics to micro-power plants.

Fuel cells research in our group started in the early 1990s on low-temperature PEM fuel cells and hydrogen storage.  Presently, we work on nano-composites for low-temperature SOFC fuel cells operating at 400-600 °C. The focus is on new nanomaterials to improve performance and lifetime of these cells. Research topics include:

  • Nanocomposites for fuel cells
  • Single-material designs
  • Electrochemical characterization
  • Laboratory unit-cells, planar cells

Research highlights:

  • GDC and SDC-carbonate nanostructures for LT-SOFC
  • LiZnNi nanomaterials
  • 1000+ mW/cm2 performance
  • Well-equipped fuel cell lab

Contact persons: Dr. Imran Asghar, Mr. Sami Jouttijärvi, Professor Peter Lund ([email protected])

Sustainable flexible energy systems

New energy technologies and systems link closely to global energy issues and future energy solutions as well as to distributed power generation.

The energy systems related work concentrates on multidisciplinary issues on large-scale integration of renewables into the energy system, energy system flexibility, market penetration and diffusion of new technologies, and global-scale changes. Energy system modelling on different levels has been important research tools, but also the integration of interdisciplinary aspects.

Two important research problems underway are: 1) How to enable fast and cost-effective penetration of new energy technologies; 2) How can large-scale new energy technology schemes in the energy system be managed effectively?

Research highlights:

  • Spatio-temporal load and solar resource model
  • P2H strategies for 2-3-folding renewable use
  • Electric-vehicle fleet model for integration
  • Energy flexibility optimization model

Contact persons: Mr. Jani Mikkola, Mr. Jyri Salpakari, Professor Peter Lund ([email protected])

Sustainable energy innovations and policies

Multi-disciplinary research on modern energy policies to face future challenges such as climate change combined with green energy economics opportunities. This is done in collaboration with 10 professors all around Finland. In addition, frugality and reverse innovations in energy are studied, using India as a case.

Research highlights:

  • Price-conditioned technology penetration model
  • Blueprint and scenarios for modern energy policy in Finland
  • Business growth models in renewable energy

Contact persons: Dr. Sanna-Liisa Sihto-Nissilä, Ms. Sini Numminen, Ms. Sannamari Pilpola, Ms. Mari Ratinen, Professor Peter Lund ([email protected])

Facilities

Key facilities include:

  • solar cell research lab
  • printed energy device lab
  • fuel cell research lab
  • degradation and ageing lab
  • simulation models for urban energy systems
  • techno-economic-socioeconomic models for technology penetration

Courses

PHYS-C1380 Multi-disciplinary energy perspectives (winter semester)
PHYS-C6370 Fundamentals of New Energy Sources (fall semester)
PHYS-E0483 Advances in New Energy Technologies (winter semester)
PHYS-E6570 Solar Energy Engineering (winter semester, not in 2017)
PHYS-E6571 Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology (winter semester, 2017)
PHYS-E6572 Advanced Wind Power Technology (fall semester, 2016)
PHYS-E0581 Individual Assignments (any time)
PHYS-E0582 Special Course in Advanced Energy Technologies, winter semester 2017: Basics of climate change (MOOC, in cooperation with SITRA and several Finnish universities)

In addition, the group contributes to PHYS-labs works.

New courses:

Climate MOOC

Climate.now is a multidisciplinary module on the basics of climate change. It has primarily been created to provide a 5 ECTS course in higher education, or for self-study. Aalto U has partnered other university and SITRA in the development of the course. Coordination by Helsinki University.

Hands-on course (PHYS-E0581) in energy science in Energy Garage

The students are involved in practical applications in modern energy. Each hands-on topic is stand-alone and will give 1 point. Each will contain pre-home-work, tutoring session on construction, analysis, reporting and pinching session. Students will combine different skills in small teams, but importantly build and experiment on energy. Schedule is quite flexible.

Latest publications

New Energy Technologies, Department of Applied Physics

High performance integrated receiver-storage system for concentrating solar power beam-down system

Publishing year: 2019 Solar Energy
Department of Applied Physics, New Energy Technologies

Electrochemical mechanisms of an advanced low-temperature fuel cell with a SrTiO 3 electrolyte

Publishing year: 2019 Journal of Materials Chemistry A
New Energy Technologies, Department of Applied Physics

Theoretical efficiency limits of ideal coloured opaque photovoltaics

Publishing year: 2019 Energy and Environmental Science
Department of Applied Physics, New Energy Technologies

Angular optical behavior of photonic-crystal-based dye-sensitized solar cells

Publishing year: 2019 Journal of Photonics for Energy
New Energy Technologies, Department of Applied Physics

Review of modelling energy transitions pathways with application to energy system flexibility

Publishing year: 2019 Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Department of Applied Physics, New Energy Technologies

Evaluation of the reliability of solar micro-grids in emerging markets – Issues and solutions

Publishing year: 2019 ENERGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
New Energy Technologies, Department of Applied Physics

Advances in Energy Systems: The Large-scale Renewable Energy Integration Challenge

Publishing year: 2019
New Energy Technologies, Department of Applied Physics

Sustaining our common future

Publishing year: 2019 Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment
New Energy Technologies, Department of Applied Physics

Analyzing national and local pathways to carbon-neutrality from technology, emissions, and resilience perspectives—Case of Finland

Publishing year: 2019 Energies
New Energy Technologies, Department of Applied Physics

Reliability and sustainability analyses of frugal solar photovoltaic micro-grid systems in emerging markets

Publishing year: 2019
More information on our research in the Research database.
Research database

Research group members

Jani Mikkola

Department of Applied Physics
Postdoctoral Researcher
Janne Halme

Janne Halme

Department of Applied Physics
University Lecturer

Sami Jouttijärvi

Department of Applied Physics
Doctoral Candidate

Kerttu Aitola

Department of Applied Physics
Postdoctoral Researcher
Peter Lund

Peter Lund

Department of Applied Physics
Professor
Sini Numminen

Sini Numminen

Department of Applied Physics

Sannamari Pilpola

Department of Applied Physics
Doctoral Candidate

Vahid Arabzadeh

Department of Applied Physics
Doctoral Candidate

Aapo Poskela

Department of Applied Physics
Doctoral Candidate

Pyry Mäkinen

Department of Applied Physics
Research Assistant

Xuelan Hou

Department of Applied Physics
Visiting Doctoral Candidate

Xueli Yao

Department of Applied Physics
Visiting Doctoral Candidate

Aleksi Kamppinen

Department of Applied Physics
Research Assistant

Justinas Jasiunas

Department of Applied Physics
Doctoral Candidate

Jinping Wang

Department of Applied Physics
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