The energy sector is currently experiencing a continuous and unprecedented growth. Driven by demand for cleaner, more sustainable, and efficient solutions, it has produced a critical need for the development of new materials and innovative processes. From advanced fuel cells for new-generation vehicles to highly energy-efficient magnetic devices and beyond, materials science took the central role in shaping the future of the energy landscape.
One of the fundamental challenges lying between the innovative ideas of better materials and their integration in real-world applications is a transition from laboratory-scale synthesis to industrial-scale production. While the laboratory serves as a cradle of innovation, enabling researchers to explore novel materials and processes, it operates within controlled environments, often producing small quantities for experimental purposes. Industrial-scale production, on the other hand, demands a leap from grams to tons and even megatons. This transition in scale not only strains the resources but can also impact the uniformity and quality of the final product due to variability in raw materials, equipment, and operating conditions among others.
Ensuring that promising lab-scale innovations can be seamlessly integrated into real-world energy applications at an industrial scale is far more complex than it may seem. Scaling up a material synthesis process often involves adjustments and optimizations to already established lab-scale methodologies to guarantee the consistent material quality is achieved and the process remains cost-effective and efficient. It is also worth mentioning that the environmental and safety concerns rise as production scales up. Industrial-scale operations must adhere to rigorous safety standards and environmental regulations and require comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation strategies.
In NICKEFFECT project novel Ni- based materials are being developed at the laboratory scale and their production will be then transferred to a large-scale production to fulfill the needs of the industrial partners participating in the project. The technology transfer will be assisted by advanced process modeling methods. In addition, the life cycle, environmental impact and critical risk assessments are being performed at different production scales to identify potential harms to and timely address these issues.