Porous materials are ubiquitous in many energy-related applications. They are used extensively as electrode materials for batteries, fuel cells, and supercapacitors, as sorbents for separation processes and gas storage, and as supports for many important catalytic processes. Their use in such diverse applications is directly related not only to their superior physical and chemical properties, such as high surface areas, controlled porosities, and controllable interfaces, but also to their wide availability.
The development of novel porous materials for energy-related applications is a part of the ORNL research initiatives in advanced materials and one of the key research components in the materials synthesis R&D portfolio at ORNL. This research area has broad impacts on a number of the core research projects (both applied and fundamental research) at ORNL and benefits from unique resources and facilities (e.g. neutron scattering, supercomputers, electron microscopy) at ORNL. Many advances have been made by ORNL researchers in the synthesis, functionalization, and characterization of porous materials with both controlled-pore and tailored-interfacial structures. Hierarchical porous structures encompassing porosities at different length scales have also been synthesized at ORNL. Highly functional porous materials have been developed at ORNL for advanced electrode materials and transport media for energy storage, gas separation, gas storage, advanced nuclear fuel cycles, and environmental restoration.
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