Clean energy could become cleaner and better performing

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The National Science Foundation has awarded researchers from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), Case Western Reserve University, University of Pennsylvania, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, University of MONS in Belgium, University of Bologna in Italy and Santa Catarina State University in Brazil with a grant to explore ways in which biological-based materials can be used in the manufacture of turbine blades, solar panels and other components for the clean-energy industry.

As petroleum costs rise, this research will become increasingly valuable. New materials and chemical process will be developed which can be used to increase performance in solar cells and wind turbine blades.

"The blades on a wind turbine are massive and need to be replaced about every 25 years," said Richard Gross, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NYU-Poly, and one of the research collaborators. "They end up in landfills, like any other non-recyclable garbage. If they could be deconstructed by biological or chemical processes to recover chemicals that can be re-used, that would have an enormous positive impact on the environment. We could, in effect, 'green up' green energy."

Materials development and deployment is expected to take a minimum of five years.

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