Applications in energy and materials


The use of synchrotron light allows the development of new technologies for exploration of oil and natural gas. It shows great potential for studies aimed at understanding the mechanical and transport properties of heterogeneous materials, such as those normally harboring oil and gas. In addition, a synchrotron light source can be used in the development of catalytic substances, which are essential for the conversion of biomass into ethanol for fuel.





Synchrotrons have been fundamental in understanding and developing materials and systems for solar cells, fuel cells and batteries, as well as research into newer, lighter and more efficient materials such as plastics, glass and fiber and many other components, which can be used in aircraft, automobiles and motors.


One of the major challenges in deepwater oil and gas exploration is the understanding of the mechanical and transport properties of highly heterogeneous materials under which oil and gas are found. The heterogeneity of the geomaterials, as well as their multiphasic and multiscale properties, requires a set of distinct experimental techniques that allow the connection between the micro and the macroscopic scale, including the possibility of measurements under different pressure and temperature conditions. Tomography using synchrotron light has been proven to be an important tool for this purpose.


The efficient and economically viable production of fuels and chemicals from biomass is one of the great challenges of this century, which includes the availability of residual biomass and the scientific and technological capacity to develop efficient and economically viable processes to transform biomass into products of industrial interest.

There are various types of biomass and mechanisms for their transformation, both by chemical and biological routes. The great challenge lies in the development of cheap catalysts that promote high conversion of the starting reagent and selectivity to the product of interest. The effective way of studying a catalyst is under operating conditions, i.e., simulating the catalytic preparation, activation and reaction process together with the structural, electronic and superficial analysis, as well as the rapid detection of the changes that are occurring. The only possibility to fully meet all these requirements is the use of high-brightness synchrotron radiation.