Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

NATAMA — Result In Brief

Project ID: 32583
Funded under: FP6-NMP

Harnessing sunlight for very large surfaces

Titania-based thin films incorporating novel nanoscale architectures are very promising for use in industrial and commercial applications. Among others, they have potential for use as photocatalysts for environmental and health protection, energy production via water splitting and chemical synthesis.
Harnessing sunlight for very large surfaces
A major obstacle thus far has been understanding the relationship between the nano- and atomic-scale structure of these films and the synthetic process required to produce desired end properties and functions. In addition, the synthetic methods must be cost effective and scalable for industrial production.

The EU-funded ‘Nano engineered titania thin films for advanced materials applications’ (Natama) project was initiated to address these issues and pave the way for widespread industrial application of photo-activated titania-based thin films. The project built on the expertise of four academic and two industrial partners from three countries and including two end users.

The consortium produced novel nano-structured materials with precisely engineered architectures as thin films. All synthetic methods were completely new and never before described. The most important application for which the films were optimised was the ability to use sunlight to generate hydrogen from water molecules.

In addition, the researchers focused on and successfully developed a process for coating large areas with the films to increase the commercialisation potential for use in large solar-activated surfaces. The most promising films were tested using sunlight at a solar power facility near Seville, Spain.

The consortium also developed a new method for coating optical lenses used to concentrate sunlight for photovoltaic technology. The coating protected the lenses from ultraviolet (UV) damage, enabled self-cleaning by rainwater and improved light transmission through the lenses.

In summary, the Natama project successfully produced nano-structured, visible light-sensitive thin films that performed equally well if not better than currently available state-of-the-art films. In addition, they were able to coat much larger surface areas than previously possible, demonstrating their certain potential for commercialisation.

The project outcomes should enhance European competitiveness and create new jobs, particularly as related to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in development of coating equipment and technology, solar technology, water and air purification and anti-microbial coatings for medical equipment, among others.

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