The past few decades have witnessed an increasing demand for renewable energy technology, including that of direct thermal to electrical energy conversion via thermoelectricity. Central to high efficient thermoelectric (TE) energy conversion is a high figure of merit, ZT, of the TE material, which requires high electrical conductivity, high thermopower and low thermal conductivity. For simple bulk materials it is hard to simultaneously satisfy these criteria because these physical quantities are inter-dependent: optimizing one quantity often adversely affects the others. Over the past decade, the pursuit of higher ZT materials has culminated into a new paradigm, namely, nanocomposite thermoelectric materials (NcTMs). A NcTM is typically multi-phased, and the characteristic length scale of at least one constituent is on the order of nanometers. The resulting classical and quantum size effects arising from the nanophase(s) and at the interfaces help decouple the inter-dependence of those TE properties, leading to outstanding TE performance. In this paper, we present a brief survey of relevant patent disclosures for NcTMs, focusing on the preparation methods and the peculiar micromorphologies.
Magnesium alloys are metallic materials that are finding increasing use in automobile and other industries. In particular, due to their intrinsic lightweight characteristics, their use as structural components can significantly improve energy consumption efficiency. However, their overall properties need to be improved in order to be able to use their unique advantages and to replace components made of conventional aluminum alloys and steels with Mg alloys. In this work, the current status of research and development in new Mg alloy design for solidification technology is surveyed with a focus on alloying with rare earth elements (RE). Reports and patents from the recent decades on newly developed magnesium alloys exhibiting high performance are compiled and described. Mg - Al - RE, Mg - Al - Ca - RE, Mg - Al - Zn - RE, Mg - Y - Gd, Mg - RE - Zn - based alloys and Mg alloys with no RE addition are described. Previous studies on strategic new alloy designs using equilibrium phase diagrams are discussed. Lastly, a brief comparative study of these alloys as well as issues for future development are discussed.
The objective of this literature review is to meticulously cover an extensive portion of the patented work in the field of industrial spray-drying. During the past two decades, significant progress has been made in the fabrication of powdery products through spray-drying. Important improvements in the design of existent spray-drying setups were reported along with enhancements in the energy efficiency of resultant technologies. Spray-drying is heavily employed in the food industry for encapsulation of dyes, fragrances, vitamins, minerals, and fats, to generate colors, flavors and other characteristics in foods. Paint pigments and detergents are also obtained via spray-drying. Additionally, some industrial catalysts are regularly achieved employing spray-drying due to a consistent size distribution of the resultant particles. Recent research has also indicated that spray-drying might be a valuable route for the crystallization of amorphous powders. This review paper discusses several novel spray-drying methods and procedures that have been proposed, predominantly during the past decade, by researchers from various companies and/or universities.
This review paper provides an overview of the use of ceria-based catalytic materials towards the industrial hydrogen production via the hydrocarbon steam reforming and the water-gas shift reaction routes with a focus on representative patenting activities mainly in the last 10 years. We first introduce the basic mechanisms of catalytic hydrocarbon steam reforming and conversion of carbon monoxide by steam towards a mixture of carbon dioxide and hydrogen at low and high temperatures, the main synthetic approaches of ceria material and its basic structural properties responsible for its catalytic activity exhibited towards the present reactions. In the case of hydrocarbon steam reforming, emphasis is given on the (i) sulphur tolerance of catalysts developed, (ii) efforts to reduce the reaction temperature, (iii) use of the “Absorption Enhanced Reforming” concept, and (iv) its application in fuel cells for power generation. In the case of water-gas shift reaction, progress in catalyst developments for low- and high- temperature applications is discussed. Future directions in these fields have been suggested.
The development of high performance solid state chemical sensors is nowadays of outmost importance in many advanced technological fields. In the near future, nano-technology can give an impressive help in manufacturing chemical sensors with the required enhanced characteristics. In this regard, nanostructured metal oxides are attracting much interest in gas-sensing applications due to their unique chemical, physical and electrical properties, leading to superior performance over bulk counterparts. In this review we provide an up dated overview about the synthesis of metal oxide nanostructures for gas sensing applications found in the literature patent. The strategies related to the synthesis of metal oxide nanostructures, with a particular attention to chemical routes, aimed to improve the characteristics (sensitivity, selectivity, working temperature, etc.) of metal oxide semiconducting (MOS) sensors, will be reviewed. Examples regarding practical applications of MOS sensors in many advanced technological fields will be also shown.