The primary aim of the ELNANO project is to advance fundamental understanding of the physics of ionic fluid flow under confinement, with a focus on charge transport phenomena in nanochannels and nanopores. The second objective is to apply the insights gained to the rational design of nanochannels that perform specific functions. In particular, we will design nanochannels that efficiently harvest the energy contained in salinity gradients between river and sea water. Harvesting this so-called osmotic power or “blue energy” has recently seen a surge of interest that led to the construction of several pilot plants around the world. However, at present its applicability and further development is hampered by poor understanding of nanoscale transport. Our research will combine analytical and numerical methods to address pertinent questions of transport on the nanoscale beyond the current state of the art. Merging the recently refined boundary-integral description of electrostatics with explicit hydrodynamic simulations will enable, for the first time, an accurate and computationally efficient description of ionic flow on the nanoscale. In the process, the researcher will broaden his expertise by acquiring top-level training in electrodynamics and hydrodynamics of charge transport, which will complement his skill set and prepare him for an independent research career. Moreover, the project will strongly contribute to the European excellence in nanoscale physics and also directly promote sustainable development by aiming to increase the efficiency of osmotic power and desalination applications.
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