Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics

Two researchers in the thermodynamics lab. Photo

Thermodynamics is the science of energy conversion, especially the relationship between heat and work. This field of study formulated the working principles of many renewable energy technologies, on the macro- as well as nano-level, where work is created from chemical energy and heat. The second law of thermodynamics is an important basis for the field, as it defines the maximum efficiency of a process. In practise, however, the efficiency will be lower than in the ideal case due to resistances to transport processes resulting in loss of useful energy. Overall, thermodynamics provides a rigorous framework for quantifying dissipation of energy (entropy production) in the industry and in nature, and an important tool for optimization of processes. 

This research group is concerned with understanding the mechanisms behind conversion of energy. We believe better comprehension helps us utilize existing and new sources of energy in an efficient manner. Experiments, theory and simulations are methods we use to improve our knowledge of a system or process, and the applications of this knowledge is a key area of interest. Energy efficient fuel cells, renewable energy devices, and other uses of waste heat or solar heat (thermoelectricity, thermo-osmosis, salt power plants) are some examples. In all these applications, porous media and the thermodynamics of the flow through these structures are central concepts. These are the topics that constitute one of the pillars in PoreLab, a centre of excellence at NTNU and University of Oslo. Master and doctor students in our research group become members of the PoreLab group, with contacts all over the world.

 

Research Areas

Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics
Non-equilibrium Molecular Dynamics

 

Research Projects

  • The utilization of a temperature gradient to improve mass transfer through ion-exchange membranes for electricity generation and water purification purposes.
  • Designing more energy-efficient electrochemical systems (PEM fuel cells and thermoelectric cells) by tailoring for instance their porous transport layers.
  • Dissipation of energy during respiration in animals. How the reindeer’s nose has evolved for as efficient as possible mass and heat transfer during respiration.
  • Simulations of mass transport in porous media using non-equilibrium molecular dynamics and extending the non-equilibrium thermodynamic framework.
 

The Master of Science in Chemistry programme offered by the Department of Chemistry provides an opportunity to specialize in thermodynamics, with courses and projects related to the group’s research topics. Contact group members to find a suitable project.