Power and Energy Research

NEPTUNE Center for Power and Energy Research

The Naval Enterprise Partnership Teaming with Universities for National Excellence (NEPTUNE) pilot program was established by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), with funding from ONR, to provide professional education and development for the military community through participation in university basic research projects. Purdue was chosen to be a lead university in the NEPTUNE pilot because of it’s exceptional basic science and engineering research capabilities and it’s commitment to providing educational opportunities to current, former and future members of the military. 

Under the program, Purdue’s NEPTUNE Center for Power and Energy Research aims to deliver new domain experts with the following characteristics: deep knowledge base in an energy-related discipline; ability to work in an interdisciplinary “team science” environment; mirroring societal diversity; and prior exposure to Navy culture. Navy personnel, ROTC students and veterans will be engaged to participate in one of seven energy-related research projects supporting a total of 13 graduate students, one post-doctoral, and 12 undergraduate students. The NEPTUNE cohort of early career scientists will also engage in activities that showcase the NEPTUNE program and deepen Navy-Purdue linkages.

Purdue University maintains numerous multidisciplinary defense-related partnerships supporting basic science and engineering research. The U.S. Department of the Navy and Purdue University, in 2014, signed a statement of cooperation (read more), agreeing to work together to convert up to half of the Navy and Marine Corps' energy consumption to alternative sources, including biofuels, by 2020. The NEPTUNE Center for Power and Energy Research will leverage these existing partnerships, and programs such as the Purdue Military Research Initiative to identify NEPTUNE early career scientists. The program is funded for $2 million over 2 years by the Office of Naval Research.

*NEPTUNE Kickoff Meeting at Purdue*

*Flyer for NEPTUNE undergraduate research* 
*NEPTUNE undergraduate research - apply*



The NEPTUNE Center for Power and Energy Research is involved in seven projects that engage Navy personnel, ROTC students and veterans in cutting-edge research and comprise technology development of low-cost, high-performance sodium ion batteries; improved thermal management in next-generation radar and power electronics systems; low-cost and portable hydrogen fuel cells; composition and performance of aviation fuels, both conventional and alternative; cyber-security to detect malicious attacks on sensing and control systems; novel GaN RF power electronics; and new flexible (wearable) electronic devices.

1. Development of low-cost, high-performance electrode materials for Na-ion batteries

Prof. Jeffrey P. Youngblood and Prof. Vilas G. Pol
School of Materials Engineering
School of Chemical Engineering 

 : Medium- to large-scale energy storage systems require battery technologies comprising both abundant, low-cost materials and inexpensive fabrication methods. Na-ion batteries (NIB), often considered a potential successor of the lithium ion battery (LIB) technology for medium- to large-scale systems, can approach the energy and power densities of current state-of-the-art battery technologies while significantly reducing material and fabrication cost. A variety of possible NIB chemistries have successfully been demonstrated, in most cases, however, material design and fabrication have followed the cost-intensive approaches of the LIB technology. Here we propose the development of novel high-performance NIB anode and cathode materials, taking into consideration not only performance criteria, but also material and manufacturing cost. Both anode and cathode will be fabricated by spray pyrolysis, a novel solutions-based, easy-to-scale process. The proposed effort will involve officer students from the Naval Postgraduate School as well as collaborators at Indiana’s Battery Innovation Center and NSWC Crane. 
Naval Relevance
 : Over decades, battery technologies have supported the U.S. Navy in its mission to ensure combat-readiness of Naval forces and maintain superior warfare capabilities. As the technological advancement of the Naval platforms and weapons system reaches new highs, and future operations demand increasing energy security and energy independence, battery technologies are poised to play an even more critical role. Key future applications will include the support of microgrids that integrate renewable energy sources at Naval bases as well as powering pulse radars and advanced weapon systems aboard ships (e.g. electromagnetic rail gun and LaWS). Moreover, while future generations of ships will likely require fewer crew members, the growing technological capabilities of information systems and increased use of unmanned platforms will drive the demand for electrical power.

2. Heterogeneous surface wettability for manipulation of dryout hydrodynamics and bubble departure during high-heat-flux boiling processes

Prof. Justin A. Weibel and Prof. Suresh V. Garimella
School of Mechanical Engineering and Birck Nanotechnology Center

Summary and Naval Relevance: Extreme heat fluxes must be dissipated in the Navy’s next-generation electronics systems to prevent the deterioration of electrical performance and reliability at high temperatures. High-performance, two-phase cooling strategies typically rely on boiling to reject heat and are capped by a ‘critical heat flux’  limit. Surface engineering for boiling enhancement has typically been limited to geometric modifications. Engineered metal surfaces having heterogeneous wettability pattern/gradients will be developed to understand the effects on boiling heat transfer.  This research will enable the development of improved thermal management technologies, and will have broader impacts on widespread energy production processes where liquid-to-vapor phase change is an energy transfer process.

3. Low cost catalyst for portable hydrogen generation and on-demand power

Prof Timothée L. Pourpoint and Mr. Jason R. Gabl
School of Aeronautics & Astronautics

Summary and Naval Relevance: The proposed research taps into the ubiquity of water and the versatility of fuel cells to develop an innovative, robust, and light-weight power source. We will develop an on-demand hydrogen-generation cartridge based on the catalyzed hydrolysis of ammonia borane (AB). Hot-swappable and connected to a PEM fuel cell, the cartridge will be designed for ease-of-use with any water source. With cost and weight as major drivers in the design process, the proposed system will be based on the localized and in-situ decomposition of AB using an acidic cation exchange resins. Whether for expeditionary forces or for robotic applications, the opportunity to use the environment as a means of generating power will provide substantial versatility as well as weight and volume savings compared to current options thus enabling new and longer Naval missions.

4. Fundamental studies on composition/performance correlations for aviation fuels

Prof. Hilkka Kenttämaa, Prof. Gozdem Kilaz and Prof. Rodney Trice
Chemistry, Aviation Technology and Materials Engineering

Summary: Our research targets the identification of fuel-specific chemistry which will permit the correlation of fuel composition, independent of its origin, to the "fit for purpose" and "performance" criteria, such as combustion efficiency and emissions. We are also concerned about possible corrosion of the engine caused by impurities in the fuel. This issue is especially relevant to alternative fuels such as biofuels since the types of impurities in them may depend on the source of the biomass used to make the fuel.
Naval Relevance: Improving the ability to identify the best possible fuels for the various applications in Navy without expensive testing.

5. Towards vetted sensing and control system firmware and software

Prof. Dongyan Xu and Prof. Xiangyu Zhang
Computer Science and CERIAS

Summary: Sensing and control (S&C) systems play a critical role in naval ship and shore infrastructures. With such systems being increasingly dependent on computer firmware/software, cyber attacks have become a new threat to the systems’ security. Unfortunately, cyber security solutions for general IT systems are not suitable for S&C systems, because attacks against the latter are typically launched via unconventional vectors such as cyber-physical manipulation via malicious firmware and software. We propose a pilot study to demonstrate new techniques to detect hidden malicious logic in S&C firmware/software, and to reveal physical and managerial vulnerabilities of an S&C system and their impacts on the subject physical system.
Naval Relevance
: This pilot study is our first step towards integrated S&C firmware-software vetting, protection, and risk analysis – in naval application contexts. Computerized S&C systems are widely deployed in naval ship and shore infrastructures, such as on-board or on-shore power generation and supply, vessel navigation, and autonomic avionics. Although such systems are isolated from the Internet, they do face cyber threats that may lead to serious impacts on the physical side of the systems. This research aims to fill the gap between the cyber and physical aspects of S&C security.

6. GaN interface engineering for naval RF power electronics applications via atomic layer epitaxy

Prof. Peide D. Ye and Prof. Peter Bermel
School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Birck Nanotechnology Center

Summary: This project will study the fundamental science and engineering of atomic layer epitaxy (ALE) deposited oxides for passivating GaN-based semiconductors. Since MgCaO has an excellent band offset with respect to GaN for both electrons and holes, we will focus on ALE MgCaO with different concentration, studying three common materials: InAlN/GaN on SiC, AlGaN/GaN on SiC and AlGaN/GaN on Si. We will establish a solid baseline to correlate interface trap density (Dit) from C-V measurements with surface recombination velocity (sr) measurements from PLE. PLE is fast, non-destructive and helpful to rapidly evaluate the passivation quality of each ALE deposition. We propose to: (1) establish a solid experimental baseline to correlate Dit with sr; (2) optimize interface quality by fine-tuning lattice constant of MgCaO to GaN-based semiconductors to achieve the highest quality MOS interface such as 1010/cm2-eV or less; and (3) reduce MgCaO thickness to improve GaN MOSHFET gm for RF MMICs suitable for operation in the E band (71-76 and 81-86 GHz). After completion of the proposed project, Purdue will transfer all technology to Naval Research Laboratories for future device development in military systems.
Naval Relevance: The research performed in this project will enable the development of novel GaN RF power electronic devices that were previously unavailable and will dramatically improve the characteristics of III-N insulated gate transistors. This will lead to order-of magnitude improvements in DoD electronic systems, including radars and communication, navigation and munitions’ electronics.

7. Unlocking the chemistry of the amine-thiol universal solvent system for solution processed, flexible electronic devices

Prof. Hilkka Kenttämaa and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal
Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Summary: Solution-processing enables rapid, roll-to-roll manufacturing of electronic devices on films and foils. Such devices are desirable as wearable electronics as they adapt to the shape of any surface. We have discovered a solvent combination that can be used to prepare electronic materials from normally insoluble inorganic salts. We propose to carry out fundamental, interdisciplinary research to delineate the mechanisms and products of these dissolution processes in order gain control over them for optimal device processing and performance.
Naval Relevance: Access to wearable, flexible, and lightweight electronics, such as solar cells, batteries and sensors, is likely to have a major impact on various aspects of Navy mission.

Research and Development Team

Rakesh Agrawal profile picture

Rakesh Agrawal

Peter Bermel profile picture

Peter Bermel

Suresh Garimella profile picture

Suresh Garimella

Hilkka Kenttamaa profile picture

Hilkka Kenttamaa

Gozdem Kilaz profile picture

Gozdem Kilaz

Vilas Pol profile picture

Vilas Pol

Timothee Pourpoint profile picture

Timothee Pourpoint

Rodney Trice profile picture

Rodney Trice

Justin Weibel profile picture

Justin Weibel

Dongyan Xu profile picture

Dongyan Xu

Peide Ye profile picture

Peide Ye

Jeffrey Youngblood profile picture

Jeffrey Youngblood

Xiangyu Zhang profile picture

Xiangyu Zhang

Administrative Team

James Dietz profile picture

Eric Dietz

Maureen Mccann profile picture

Maureen Mccann

Pankaj Sharma profile picture

Pankaj Sharma

Clifford Wojtalewicz profile picture

Clifford Wojtalewicz

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2017 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Energy Center

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact the Energy Center at dpweb@purdue.edu.