From nutshell to supercapattery

Chemistry World article written by Dannielle Whittaker

Scientists in Canada have created a hybrid sodium ion capacitor (NIC) from peanut shells in a pioneering study bridging the gap between conventional ion batteries and supercapacitors.

Interested to know more?

Take a look at the full Chemistry World article by Dannielle Whittaker online now.

For further details there’s also the original research paper:

Peanut shell hybrid sodium ion capacitor with extreme energy–power rivals lithium ion capacitors
Jia Ding, Huanlei Wang, Zhi Li, Kai Cui, Dimitre Karpuzov, Xuehai Tan, Alireza Kohandehghan and David Mitlin 
Energy Environ. Sci., 2015, DOI: 10.1039/C4EE02986K

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Register now for HOPV15

You are invited to participate in the International Conference on Hybrid and Organic Photovoltaics 2015, to be held in Rome, Italy, from 10-13 May 2015.

HOPV has been consolidated since 2009 as a unique forum for the advances in hybrid and organic photovoltaics. Now the 7th edition chaired by Prof. Filippo de Angelis and Prof. Mike McGehee, kindly invite you to present your latest research and participate in a major event in Rome, 10-13 May 2015. Of course the generous progress of perovskite solar cells will form a key part of the conference. The conference format is a full three days, multiple symposia meeting, with outstanding figures of the field as keynotes and invited speakers, and with also room for plenty of contributed talks by participant scientists and unlimited poster presentation.
 
Energy and Environmental Science is sponsoring three HOPV15 poster prize awards, with a first prize of 200 euros, second prize of 150 euros, and third prize of 100 euros.

HOPV15 banner

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Foreign Policy Global Thinkers award for EES authors

Credit: Foreign Policy magazine

We are delighted to announce that Energy and Environmental Science authors Florent Boudoire, Rita Toth, Jakob Heier, Artur Braun and Edwin C. Constable have been listed among Foreign Policy magazine’s “100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014” for their work on advancing solar technology using rust and moth eyes.

The researchers are based at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology and the University of Basel, Switzerland and were honoured in the innovators section. The Foreign Policy editors noted on their work that ‘The advance opens up a new method for hydrogen-fuel production and could let the next generation of solar technologies take wing.’

For further information take a look at the Global Thinkers website and make sure to read the original EES article!

Photonic light trapping in self-organized all-oxide microspheroids impacts photoelectrochemical water splitting
Florent Boudoire, Rita Toth, Jakob Heier, Artur Braun and Edwin C. Constable
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014,7, 2680-2688

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A year of water splitting from one device

 Abigail Hallowes writes about an EES article in Chemistry World


Researchers from the US have optimised a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) so that it can continuously split water into clean burning hydrogen and oxygen for over 2200 hours – the equivalent to one year of outdoor operation.

In order for PECs to be a competitive energy provider, they should efficiently covert solar into chemical energy, whilst remaining stable for years of continuous operation. The condition of the electrodes in PECs is a major concern as they immediately start to corrode once immersed in the electrolyte. Previous PEC researchers have only been able to produce systems that are either stable for 4–100 hours but inefficient, or efficient but only stable for a few minutes; they have not been able to incorporate both required properties.

Scanning-electron micrograph image of a microwire array with its protective coating

Scanning-electron micrograph image of a microwire array with its protective coating

 
Electrode instability is brought on when the energy required to excite an electron is within the same energy range that causes electrode corrosion; photocorrosion then becomes competitive with water splitting. In these cases, it is most likely that photocorrosion is thermodynamically more favourable which therefore leads to unstable electrodes. Now, a team led by Nathan Lewis at the California Institute of Technology have drastically increased PEC stability whilst achieving a 100% Faradaic efficiency for oxygen evolution.
 
Their approach increased the electrochemically active sites versus the surface area of the electrode through the use of silicon microwire arrays; this led to a decrease in the effective current density at the electrode–electrolyte interface, increasing the energy required for photocorrosion, which decreased the rate of photocorrosion. They also coated the arrays in a protective but conductive layer, to act as a corrosion-resistant barrier while maintaining efficient charge transfer to the reaction sites, as well as with an oxygen evolution catalyst to promote water oxidation.
 
Brian Seger, a photoelectrochemist at the Technical University of Denmark, explains that water splitting provides some very corrosive conditions so stability has been a large hurdle in this field: ‘The fact that the Lewis group could test their device for three months with no noticeable corrosion indicates that this hurdle is surmountable.’
 
Materials scientist, Dongyuan Zhao, of Fudan University, China, describes the work was a breakthrough and says it ‘shows great potential for industrial application.’

Interested to find out more? Read the full article by Abigail Hallowes in Chemistry World.

Read the original article in Energy and Environmental Science:

Stabilization of Si microwire arrays for solar-driven H2O oxidation to O2(g) in 1.0 M KOH(aq) using conformal coatings of amorphous TiO2
Matthew R. Shaner,ab   Shu Hu,ab   Ke Sunab and   Nathan S. Lewis
Energy Environ. Sci., 2015, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE03012E

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HOT articles in EES

These articles are available free for a limited time:

Combining experimental and theoretical methods to learn about the reactivity of gas-processing metalloenzymes
Claudio Greco, Vincent Fourmond, Carole Baffert, Po-hung Wang, Sébastien Dementin, Patrick Bertrand, Maurizio Bruschi, Jochen Blumberger, Luca de Gioia and Christophe Léger  
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01848F, Review Article

C4EE01848F GA

Measuring thermoelectric transport properties of materials
Kasper A. Borup, Johannes de Boor, Heng Wang, Fivos Drymiotis, Franck Gascoin, Xun Shi, Lidong Chen, Mikhail I. Fedorov, Eckhard Müller, Bo B. Iversen and G. Jeffrey Snyder  
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01320D, Review Article

Pt–Ru catalyzed hydrogen oxidation in alkaline media: oxophilic effect or electronic effect?
Ying Wang, Gongwei Wang, Guangwei Li, Bing Huang, Jing Pan, Qiong Liu, Juanjuan Han, Li Xiao, Juntao Lu and Lin Zhuang  
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE02564D, Communication

A general framework for the assessment of solar fuel technologies
Jeffrey A. Herron, Jiyong Kim, Aniruddha A. Upadhye, George W. Huber and Christos T. Maravelias  
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01958J, Analysis

C4EE01958J GA

Nickel oxide encapsulated nitrogen-rich carbon hollow spheres with multiporosity for high-performance pseudocapacitors having extremely robust cycle life
Se Yun Kim, Hyung Mo Jeong, Jun Ho Kwon, Il Woo Ock, Won Hyuk Suh, Galen D. Stucky and Jeung Ku Kang  
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE02897J, Communication

Shale gas-to-syngas chemical looping process for stable shale gas conversion to high purity syngas with a H2:CO ratio of 2:1
Siwei Luo, Liang Zeng, Dikai Xu, Mandar Kathe, Elena Chung, Niranjani Deshpande, Lang Qin, Ankita Majumder, Tien-Lin Hsieh, Andrew Tong, Zhenchao Sun and Liang-Shih Fan  
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE02892A, Paper

Evaluating different classes of porous materials for carbon capture
Johanna M. Huck, Li-Chiang Lin, Adam H. Berger, Mahdi Niknam Shahrak, Richard L. Martin, Abhoyjit S. Bhown, Maciej Haranczyk, Karsten Reuter and Berend Smit  
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE02636E, Paper

Stabilization of Si microwire arrays for solar-driven H2O oxidation to O2(g) in 1.0 M KOH(aq) using conformal coatings of amorphous TiO2
Matthew R. Shaner, Shu Hu, Ke Sun and Nathan S. Lewis  
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE03012E, Communication

C4EE03012E GA

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Sawdust cellulose offers alkane pipeline

Emma Stephen writes about an EES article in Chemistry World

A new way for converting cellulose into liquid straight-chain alkanes may provide a viable alternative route to chemicals traditionally sourced from crude oil. With the demand for fossil-derived chemicals and fuels ever-increasing, making chemical building blocks using cellulose from the vast amounts of cheap, waste non-food plant biomass produced worldwide in combination with existing oil refinery infrastructure, could be an invaluable bridge to sustainable chemicals and fuels.

Read the full news article on the work from Bert Sels et al. online at Chemistry World.

The original research article is also free to access for a limited time – download it here:

Direct catalytic conversion of cellulose to liquid straight-chain alkanes
Beau Op de Beeck, Michiel Dusselier, Jan Geboers, Jensen Holsbeek, Eline Morré, Steffen Oswald, Lars Giebeler and Bert F. Sels
Energy. Environ. Sci., 2014, DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01523A

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Redirecting electrons boosts algal hydrogen generation

Jonathan Midgley writes about an EES article in Chemistry World

Scientists in Germany have developed a highly targeted metabolic engineering technique to control the flow of electrons produced by the initial stages of photosynthesis in microalgae, and used it to increase hydrogen production by a factor of The hydrogen yield from green algae like Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is normally restricted by physiological constraints © AMI Images/Science Photo Libraryfive.

Hydrogen is increasingly being touted as an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional fossil fuels, but, ‘at present, hydrogen is mainly produced from natural gas, which makes it a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”,’ comments Oliver Inderwildi, a senior policy fellow at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK. Natural microalgae produce hydrogen by harnessing energy from sunlight, but their low production rate limits their practical application. Organisms typically use most of the electrons they generate to make the carbohydrates they need to live.

Previous studies in this area had focussed on curbing carbohydrate production. Now, Wolfgang Lubitz, of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, and co-workers have modified a ferredoxin protein responsible for distributing photo-generated electrons in the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii with the aim of boosting its hydrogen output, whilst allowing the organism to be self-sustaining.

Interested to find out more? Read the full article by Jonathan Midgley in Chemistry World.

Read the original article in Energy & Environmental Science:

Enhancing hydrogen production of microalgae by redirecting electrons from photosystem I to hydrogenase
Sigrun Rumpel, Judith F. Siebel, Christophe Farès, Jifu Duan, Edward Reijerse, Thomas Happe, Wolfgang Lubitz and Martin Winkler
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01444H

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Wind-powered lighting is almost a breeze

Stephen McCarthy writes about an EES article in Chemistry World

Scientists in South Korea have created a material that emits bright white light when a stream of nitrogen is blown over it. The discovery paves the way for eco-friendly displays and lighting systems powered by natural winds.A stream of air causes the rods to bend, emitting light from the phosphors

Mechanoluminescence, where materials emit light under mechanical stress, is not a new phenomenon; in 1605 Francis Bacon reported seeing flashes of light when he snapped sugar crystals. But, as this required the crystals to be fractured, mechanoluminescence was not thought to have any practical applications until elasto-mechanoluminescent materials were discovered in 1999. These materials emit light under elastic deformation without being destroyed, and can be used for lighting, medical imaging or even as artificial skin.

However, all of the elasto-mechanoluminescent materials discovered so far have several associated problems. One problem is the light they produce is very faint, and is usually only as bright as luminescent paint. Another problem is that the light is coloured, often green or yellow, depending on the compounds used. This is a stumbling block for applications where white light is preferable.

Both of these problems have been addressed by Soon Moon Jeong’s team from the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology. By incorporating a mixture of coloured phosphors made from copper-doped zinc sulfide into a flexible plastic polydimethylsiloxane composite, the researchers created an elasto-mechanoluminescent material that emits white light. The colour of the light can also be tuned by changing the proportion each phosphor.

Interested to find out more? Read the full article by Stephen McCarthy in Chemistry World.

Read the original article in Energy & Environmental Science:

Bright, wind-driven white mechanoluminescence from zinc sulphide microparticles embedded in a polydimethylsiloxane elastomer
Soon Moon Jeong, Seongkyu Song, Kyung-Il Joo, Joonwoo Kim, Sung-Ho Hwang, Jaewook Jeong and Hyunmin Kim
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01776E

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Spray-deposition steers perovskite solar cells towards commercialisation

Vicki Marshall writes about an EES article in Chemistry World

A low-cost, high-efficiency technique for fabricating perovskite solar cells – ultra-sonic spray-coating – has been Spray-coated perovskite solar cells © Lucy Pickforddeveloped by a team of researchers in the UK. It represents a significant step towards commercialising perovskite solar cells.

David Lidzey, head of the research group at the University of Sheffield behind the study, explains that there has been ‘interest in developing solar cell materials that are easy to process, efficient and have less embodied energy than current technologies.’

Thin-film solar cells using perovskite semi-conductors have become a promising form of photovoltaic device achieving power conversion efficiencies of up to 15–19%, surpassing the efficiencies of amorphous silicon and organic semi-conductor photovoltaics.

Perovskite films can be fabricated by depositing precursor materials from solution. However, there have been few reports detailing the application of scalable solution-processing techniques to create these films.

In this study, an ultra-sonic spray-coating of methylamine iodide and lead chloride created a thin film of a perovskite precursor under ambient conditions. The film was then thermally annealed into a CH3NH3PbI3–ᵪClᵪ perovskite structure prior to inclusion within a solar cell with a planar heterojunction architecture.

Interested to find out more? Read the full article by Vicki Marshall in Chemistry World.

Read the original article in Energy and Environmental Science:

Efficient planar heterojunction mixed-halide perovskite solar cells deposited via spray-deposition
Alexander T. Barrows, Andrew J. Pearson, Chan Kyu Kwak, Alan D. F. Dunbar, Alastair R. Buckley and David G. Lidzey
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01546K 

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EES Impact Factor climbs even higher – 15.49

We are delighted to announce a huge rise in the Impact Factor* of Energy & Environmental Science to a record high of 15.49.

This increase means Energy & Environmental Science remains the #1 ranking journal (of all 205 journals) in its ISI subject category.

This great news demonstrates that the journal continues to attract and publish outstanding research, which appeals to its community-spanning international readership.ees cover

We wish to thank all our Board members, authors and referees for their continuing support – Energy & Environmental Science is your journal.

Please do continue to submit your best work to Energy & Environmental Science. We look forward to further success in the months and years ahead.

Read more about the 2013 Impact Factors from across RSC Publishing on the RSC Publishing Blog.

*The Impact Factor provides an indication of the average number of citations per paper. Produced annually, Impact Factors are calculated by dividing the number of citations in a year by the number of citeable articles published in the preceding two years. Data based on 2013 Journal Citation Reports®, (Thomson Reuters, 2014).

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