The quest for cleaner, cheaper, more sustainable energy

While the earth’s reserves of non-renewable energy are reducing…. our demands for energy are not. Given this is unsustainable, there is a global need to both reduce our energy consumption and develop more sustainable energy sources. Catalysis is a key player in this, potentially providing direct, efficient and economical routes to energy generation.

Here we have selected a few papers from Catalysis Science & Technology which look to develop and review catalyst based technologies for renewable energy. To mark Catalysis Science & Technology‘s recent launch, all articles are free to access for the duration of 2012.

The collection of papers below detail some of the strategies being developed to achieve this, including the production of biofuels and hydrogen generation – hydrogen is an attractive energy source since it’s oxidation for energy produces only water. 

Photocatalysts for H2 production have received significant attention – given the abundance of solar energy, developing catalysts which operate under visible light has become a highly desirable goal and an interesting challenge for catalysis research.

Ni2+-doped ZnxCd1−xS photocatalysts from single-source precursors for efficient solar hydrogen production under visible light irradiation
Yabo Wang, Jianchun Wu, Jianwei Zheng, Rongrong Jiang and Rong Xu

Modification of TaON with ZrO2 to improve photocatalytic hydrogen evolution activity under visible light: influence of preparation conditions on activity
Su Su Khine Ma, Kazuhiko Maeda and Kazunari Domen

CdS–graphene and CdS–CNT nanocomposites as visible-light photocatalysts for hydrogen evolution and organic dye degradation
Aihua Ye, Wenqing Fan, Qinghong Zhang, Weiping Deng and Ye Wang


Photocatalysis can be used for a range of applications, including hydrogen production and organic dye degradation.

Hydrogen production from ethanol is an interesting prospect as ethanol can be sourced from biomass. This review from Angelo Basile and Adolfo Lulianelli looks at the current state of the art technologies to convert ethanol into hydrogen gas using inorganic membrane reactors.

Hydrogen production from ethanol via inorganic membrane reactors technology: a review
A. Lulianelli and A. Basile

Biodiesel for fuelling transport can be mixed with conventional petrodiesel or used in its pure form.

Biofuel production is another hot topic in energy research – the recent work of Babak Karimi looks into the development of functionalized sulfonic acids as catalysts in biodiesel production, while last week we blogged about the Hot Article from Karen Wilson and Adam Lee ‘Biodiesel catalysts’ which reviews the ‘Rational design of heterogeneous catalysts for biodiesel synthesis’.

Periodic mesoporous organosilica functionalized sulfonic acids as highly efficient and recyclable catalysts in biodiesel production
Babak Karimi, Hamid M. Mirzaei and Akbar Mobaraki

Rational design of heterogeneous catalysts for biodiesel synthesis
Karen Wilson and Adam F. Lee

You can also read a previous article collection on generating biofuels here and if you’re interested in green and sustainable chemistry why not have a look at Reviews in Green Chemistry – a cross journal collection.

Clearly catalysis has a crucial role to play in the development of new energy technologies and over the coming months and years we can expect to see efficiencies and reusability of these systems increase. Will these changes be gradual, or are we on the brink of a break-through discovery, revolutionising the global energy economy? 

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