Archive for the ‘Hot Article’ Category

3D printing cuts fuel cell component costs

By using 3D printing researchers in the UK have cut the cost of manufacturing devices that produce hydrogen fuel by splitting water. The 3D printed plastic components developed by Lee Cronin and co-workers at the University of Glasgow, UK, allow for the construction of light weight and low-cost electrolysers that could make the currently expensive devices available to a wider audience. Hardware hackers in the scientific community are also encouraged to use the new manufacturing approach in open source developments.

Interested to find out more? For the full article visit Chemistry World.

Read the original article in Energy and Environmental Science – free to access until August 15th!

3D Printed Flow Plates for the Electrolysis of Water: an Economic and Adaptable Approach to Device Manufacture

Lee Cronin, Greig Chisholm, Philip Kitson, Niall Kirkaldy and Leanne Bloor

Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Accepted Manuscript

DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01426J, Paper
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Solar cells: Tiny balls of fire – EES article featured in The Economist

A recent article in EES on how to increase the light-absorbing capability of a photoelectrochemical cell by arranging spheres of tungsten oxide has been selected as one of the three science articles featured in this week’s issue of The Economist. The article is written by Florent Boudoire and co-workers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, where the group’s research efforts are concentrated on high performance ceramic materials for energy and the environment.

The Economist offers authoritative insight and opinion on international news, politics, business, finance, science, technology and the connections between them.

Read the full article on the website now!

Also check out the original research article which has been made free to access for a limited period of time! –

Florent Boudoire et al., Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, DOI: 10.1039/C4EE00380B

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Harvesting electricity from seawater

A new type of blue energy harvesting device may offer a practical method of continuous coastal electricity generation.

In 2011, Stanford researchers described a new form of energy harvesting device coined as a “mixing entropy battery” in Nano Letters1. Their device capitalized on the chemical energy available in a system where an ion concentration gradient is present; in this case where low salinity wastewater or river water was mixed with ~0.6 M NaCl rich seawater. It is estimated that during this mixing process, there is a free energy reduction of 2.2 kJ per liter of freshwater.

Extractable Energy Per Cycle

Extractable energy depends on charging time

Using two electrodes, one Na+ selective the other Cl- selective, a charging state exists when the battery is exposed to low salinity water, where ions in the electrodes are removed via a concentration gradient. Next, sea water replaces the low salinity water and the potential between the electrodes increases. This is followed by a discharge state where ions from the higher concentration solution reincorporate into their ion selective electrode . This charge/discharge cycle produces extractable energy per cycle as described in the figure shown.

In the present work, the same group investigates replacing the cathode material with a higher capacity material, Na4Mn9O18, as opposed to the previously reported Na2M5O10. An overall improvement was observed when researchers simulated batteries hooked up in a series, by passing the same effluent wastewater 12 times through the same cell. In doing so, the cumulative energy produced was 0.44 kWh/m3 of wastewater, compared to the theoretical maximum of 0.65 kWh/m3. This denotes an overall efficiency of 68%. Future considerations include reducing the number of batteries required in series, as well as eliminating the use of silver as a Cl- selective electrode, for environmental concerns.

1.) Nano Lett., 2011, 11, 1810–1813

Interested? Read the full advance article in Energy and Environmental Science here:

Performance of a mixing entropy battery alternately flushed with wastewater effluent and seawater for recovery of salinity-gradient energy

Meng Ye, Mauro Pasta, Xing Xie, Yi Cui, and Craig S. Criddle
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01034E

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Designing next-generation activated carbons for advanced energy storage applications

Activated carbons for energy storage

Activated carbons for energy storage

In this interesting and informative article, M. Sevilla and R. Mokaya review state-of-the-art synthesis methods for the preparation of activated carbons and their application in energy storage systems. Specifically, the authors detail recent developments in the control of properties such as pore size distribution, surface area and structural and chemical characteristics – and how such properties relate to performance in hydrogen storage and supercapacitors.

Activated carbons have a number of desirable features that make them attractive for use in advanced energy-storage systems. As well as being relatively light-weight, low-cost and chemically inert, they also have very large surface areas (> 1000 m2/g) and high micropore volumes in which to interact with other species. This makes activated carbons particularly useful as supercapacitor electrodes and hydrogen storage materials – where performance is strongly related to surface area and pore characteristics.

In this review, recent developments in the fabrication of activated carbons are discussed, focusing particularly on methods which allow the control of features, such as pore size distribution, surface area and physical and chemical characteristics such as texture, morphology and heteroatom-doping. The relationship between these properties and the performance of these materials as supercapacitor electrodes and their use in hydrogen storage is also looked at in detail, providing a guide for the direction of future research in this very active field.

Interested? Read the full article here:

Energy storage applications of activated carbons: supercapacitors and hydrogen storage

Marta Sevilla and Roberts Mokaya

Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, 7, 1250–1280

DOI: 10.1039/C3EE43525C

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This week’s HOT articles

Take a look at this week’s selection! These articles are available free for a limited time:

Si-based Earth abundant clathrates for solar energy conversion
Yuping He, Fan Sui, Susan M. Kauzlarich and Giulia Galli
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE00256C, Communication Graphical abstract: Experimental demonstration of enhanced photon recycling in angle-restricted GaAs solar cells

Improving the photoelectrochemical activity of La5Ti2CuS5O7 for hydrogen evolution by particle transfer and doping
Jingyuan Liu, Takashi Hisatomi, Guijun Ma, Aki Iwanaga, Tsutomu Minegishi, Yosuke Moriya, Masao Katayama, Jun Kubota and Kazunari Domen
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE00091A, Communication

Performance of a mixing entropy battery alternately flushed with wastewater effluent and seawater for recovery of salinity-gradient energy
Meng Ye, Mauro Pasta, Xing Xie, Yi Cui and Craig S. Criddle
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01034E, Paper

Experimental demonstration of enhanced photon recycling in angle-restricted GaAs solar cells
Emily D. Kosten, Brendan M. Kayes and Harry A. Atwater
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE43584A, Communication

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This week’s HOT articles

Take a look at this week’s selection! These articles are available free for a limited time: Graphical abstract: A wearable thermoelectric generator fabricated on a glass fabric

Improvement of open-circuit voltage and photovoltaic properties of 2D-conjugated polymers by alkylthio substitution
Chaohua Cui, Wai-Yeung Wong and Yongfang Li
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE00446A, Paper

Towards low-cost, environmentally friendly printed chalcopyrite and kesterite solar cells
Hamed Azimi, Yi Hou and Christoph J. Brabec
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE43865A, Review Article

A wearable thermoelectric generator fabricated on a glass fabric
Sun Jin Kim, Ju Hyung We and Byung Jin Cho
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE00242C, Paper

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Toilet flushes could help power homes

Researchers in South Korea have devised a way to harness the motion of water, including from raindrops or from a flushing toilet, as a sustainable energy source.

Devices that renewably generate electricity in an uncomplicated manner are in demand. Now, Youn Sang Kim and his team at Seoul National University and Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI) have adapted a transducer to convert the mechanical energy from water motion into electrical energy.

Interested to know more? Read the full article by Abigail Hallowes on Chemistry World.

Read the original article in Energy & Environmental Science – it’s free to download until 27th May 2014!

The Effective Energy Harvesting Method from Natural Water Motion Active Transducer (WMAT)
Youn Sang Kim, Junwoo Park, YoungJun Yang, Eungkyu Lee, Soon-Hyung Kwon, Won Keun Kim, Cheouljong han, Jeongno Lee and Siyun Park
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE00588K, Communication

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Visible light hydrogen production with carbonate-doped TiO2 microspheres

A simple “one-pot” solvothermal method has been developed to prepare high-surface-area mesoporous TiO2 microspheres in order to extend the light absorption from the ultraviolet to the visible region of the solar spectrum.

By Martina Congiu

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a wide bandgap semiconductor, extensively studied for photocatalysis because nontoxic, abundant, stable and photoactive. Unfortunately, bare TiO2 absorbs photons only in the ultraviolet, hence the need to find suitable dopants to enhance its absorption in the visible region.

The new nonaqueous solvothermal method carried out by Liu and co-workers, shows how it is possible to synthesize carbon-doped microspheres with high specific surface area, tunable pore diameter and grain size, high crystallinity, well-defined morphology and high visible light absorption.

Furthermore, the new material was tested as solid-state photocatalyst under visible light irradiation. The experiment showed that doped-TiO2 microspheres created with this new method have an hydrogen production rate three times higher than commercial TiO2 nanoparticles.

Interested in a better understanding about this field? Read more from the Communication:

Doping high-surface-area mesoporous TiO2 microspheres with carbonate for visible light hydrogen production
Bin Liu, Li-Min Liu, Xiu-Feng Lang, Hsin-Yi Wang, Xiong Wen (David) Lou and Eray S. Aydil
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE00472H, Communication

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Power up with body heat

A thermoelectric generator that converts body heat into electricity could make replacing or recharging batteries in wearable electronics a task of the past.

As the electronics market continues to expand there is a growing need for new ways to charge devices like smart watches and wearable medical sensors. However, conventional organic-based thermoelectric (TE) generators do not produce a high enough power output for use in wearable devices. And previously reported inorganic-based systems tend to use bulky, rigid and heavy ceramic substrates that increase thermal energy loss and limit their power output and energy conversion efficiency. The TE generator developed by Byung Jin Cho and his team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology uses a glass fabric that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than other devices reported to date.

Interested to know more? Read the full article by Charlotte Still on Chemistry World.

Read the original article in Energy & Environmental Science – it’s free to download until 15th May 2014!

Wearable Thermoelectric Generator Fabricated on Glass Fabric
Sun Jin Kim, Ju Hyung We and Byung Jin Cho
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE00242C, Paper

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Nanoporous anodes charge up

Scientists in China and the US say a new anode material they have created represents a significant step forward in the development of long-life stationary lithium-ion batteries for large-scale energy storage systems.

Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most effective rechargeable batteries thanks to their high energy density and low environmental impact. However, the performance of current lithium-ion batteries, which use graphite as the anode material, cannot satisfy requirements of large-scale systems that could support smart electricity grids linked with renewable sources. Their charging rate is limited because at voltages required for a fast charge, lithium deposition, or plating, occurs, which can result in the battery short circuiting.

Interested to know more? Read the full article by Jennifer Newton on Chemistry World.

Read the original article in Energy & Environmental Science – it’s free to download until May 13th 2014!

A long-life lithium-ion battery with highly porous TiNb2O7 anode for large-scale electrical energy storage
Bingkun Guo, Xiqian Yu, Xiao-Guang Sun, Miaofang Chi, Zhen-An Qiao, Jue Liu, Yong-Sheng Hu, Xiao-Qing Yang, John B Goodenough and Sheng Dai
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE00508B, Communication

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