Author Archive

Electrochemical energy storage in a sustainable modern society: an opinion article by John B. Goodenough

In his recent article in EES, John B. Goodenough gives his views on the challenges, limitations and future prospects of Li-ion battery technology – and how such technology can be used to promote a sustainable modern society.

Li-ion batteries have helped shape modern society by facilitating the wireless revolution; powering mobile phones, laptops and tablet-computers, as well as other portable electronic devices.

Advanced batteries are also helping facilitate the on-going green revolution, with technologies such as plug-in electric vehicles and grid-scale renewable energy storage heavily dependent on the performance of electrochemical energy storage systems.

In this interesting and informative article, John B. Goodenough gives a critical assessment of the current limitations of Li-ion technology, and highlights some developing strategies which may overcome these limitations.

He emphasises that, relative to current battery systems, improvements in terms of energy- and power-density, manufacturing cost, safety, and charging-time must be made before emerging green technologies, such as plug-in electric vehicles, can really take off.

He notes that significant improvements could be made in a number of key areas of Li-ion technology, including: (1) the development of alternative liquid electrolytes, with greater electrochemical stability windows; (2) replacing the liquid electrolyte altogether, with a stable, Li-ion conducting, solid-oxide material; (3) employing nanotechnology and conductive mesoporous structures to enhance the performance of the cathode; and (4) replacing the graphite anode with high capacity Li-alloy forming materials, such as silicon, encapsulated within conductive carbon or polymer matrixes.

The article ends by postulating the prospect of electrochemical energy storage systems beyond established Li-ion technology, discussing the merits and shortcomings of novel approaches such as the Li-Sulfur and Li-Air batteries, as well as solid oxide fuel cells. But will such advancements be Good-enough to overcome the challenges of a sustainable modern society? The question remains open.

By Aled Roberts

You can read the Opinion Article in EES by clicking on the link below:

Electrochemical energy storage in a sustainable modern society
John B. Goodenough
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42613K, Opinion

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High impact research on biotechnology

We would like to share with you a selection of recent articles published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journals Energy & Environmental Science (EES), Nanoscale and Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (PCCP) in the area of biotechnology.

You can read these articles for free for a limited period by clicking on the links below.

EES, Nanoscale and PCCP are high-impact journals published on a not-for-profit ethos for the benefit of the wider scientific community.

Sign up to receive the latest news from your favourite journals.

With an Impact Factor of 11.65, which is rising fast, EES is the ideal place to publish your research.

FREE: The role of biofuels in the future energy supply
Luis Caspeta, Nicolaas A. A. Buijs and Jens Nielsen
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE24403B, Opinion

FREE: Implanted biofuel cells operating in vivo – methods, applications and perspectives – feature article
Evgeny Katz and Kevin MacVittie
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42126K, Opinion

FREE: Enzymes and bio-inspired electrocatalysts in solar fuel devices
Thomas W. Woolerton, Sally Sheard, Yatendra S. Chaudhary and Fraser A. Armstrong
DOI: 10.1039/C2EE21471G, Perspective

FREE: From biodiesel and bioethanol to liquid hydrocarbon fuels: new hydrotreating and advanced microbial technologies
Juan Carlos Serrano-Ruiz, Enrique V. Ramos-Fernández and Antonio Sepúlveda-Escribano
DOI: 10.1039/C1EE02418C, Perspective

FREE: Immobilization technology: a sustainable solution for biofuel cell design
Xiao-Yu Yang, Ge Tian, Nan Jiang and Bao-Lian Su
DOI: 10.1039/C1EE02391H, Review Article

FREE: Oxygen-tolerant coenzyme A-acylating aldehyde dehydrogenase facilitates efficient photosynthetic n-butanol biosynthesis in cyanobacteria
Ethan I. Lan, Soo Y. Ro and James C. Liao
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE41405A, Paper

FREE: Engineered yeast for enhanced CO2 mineralization
Roberto Barbero, Lino Carnelli, Anna Simon, Albert Kao, Alessandra d’Arminio Monforte, Moreno Riccò, Daniele Bianchi and Angela Belcher
DOI: 10.1039/C2EE24060B, Paper

FREE: Layered corrugated electrode macrostructures boost microbial bioelectrocatalysis
Shuiliang Chen, Guanghua He, Qin Liu, Falk Harnisch, Yan Zhou, Yu Chen, Muddasir Hanif, Suqin Wang, Xinwen Peng, Haoqing Hou and Uwe Schröder
DOI: 10.1039/C2EE23344D, Communication

FREE: An extremely radioresistant green eukaryote for radionuclide bio-decontamination in the nuclear industry
Corinne Rivasseau, Emmanuel Farhi, Ariane Atteia, Alain Couté, Marina Gromova, Diane de Gouvion Saint Cyr, Anne-Marie Boisson, Anne-Sophie Féret, Estelle Compagnon and Richard Bligny
DOI: 10.1039/C2EE23129H, Paper

FREE: Living battery – biofuel cells operating in vivo in clams
Alon Szczupak, Jan Halámek, Lenka Halámková, Vera Bocharova, Lital Alfonta and Evgeny Katz
DOI: 10.1039/C2EE21626D, Communication

Nanoscale publishes community-spanning research across the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology. Its Impact Factor is currently 6.23.

FREE: The interplay between carbon nanomaterials and amyloid fibrils in bio-nanotechnology
Chaoxu Li and Raffaele Mezzenga
DOI: 10.1039/C3NR01644G, Review Article

FREE: Lanthanide-doped luminescent nano-bioprobes: from fundamentals to biodetection
Yongsheng Liu, Datao Tu, Haomiao Zhu, En Ma and Xueyuan Chen
DOI: 10.1039/C2NR33239F, Feature Article

FREE: Cholesterol – a biological compound as a building block in bionanotechnology
Leticia Hosta-Rigau, Yan Zhang, Boon M. Teo, Almar Postma and Brigitte Städler
DOI: 10.1039/C2NR32923A, Feature Article

FREE: Plant mediated green synthesis: modified approaches
Ratul Kumar Das and Satinder Kaur Brar
DOI: 10.1039/C3NR02548A, Minireview

FREE: Graphene: a versatile nanoplatform for biomedical applications
Yin Zhang, Tapas R. Nayak, Hao Hong and Weibo Cai
DOI: 10.1039/C2NR31040F, Review Article

FREE: Nanocellulose electroconductive composites
Zhijun Shi, Glyn O. Phillips and Guang Yang
DOI: 10.1039/C3NR00408B, Minireview

FREE: Recombinant antibody mediated delivery of organelle-specific DNA pH sensors along endocytic pathways.
Yamuna Krishnan, Souvik Modi, Saheli Halder and Clément Nizak
DOI: 10.1039/C3NR03769J, Paper

FREE: Multi-enzyme Co-Embedded Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Nanoflowers: Synthesis and Application in Colorimetric Sensor
Jiayu Sun, Jiechao Ge, Weimin Liu, Minhuan Lan, Hongyan Zhang, Pengfei Wang, Yanming Wang and Zhongwei Niu
DOI: 10.1039/C3NR04425D, Paper

FREE: An unusual pathway for the membrane wrapping of rodlike nanoparticles and the orientation- and membrane wrapping-dependent nanoparticle interaction
Tongtao Yue, Xiaojuan Wang, Fang Huang and Xianren Zhang
DOI: 10.1039/C3NR02683C, Paper

FREE: Flash photo stimulation of human neural stem cells on graphene/TiO2 heterojunction for differentiation into neurons
Omid Akhavan and Elham Ghaderi
DOI: 10.1039/C3NR02161K, Paper

FREE: Bio-nanohybrids of quantum dots and photoproteins facilitating strong nonradiative energy transfer
Urartu Ozgur Safak Seker, Evren Mutlugun, Pedro Ludwig Hernandez-Martinez, Vijay K. Sharma, Vladimir Lesnyak, Nikolai Gaponik, Alexander Eychmüller and Hilmi Volkan Demir
DOI: 10.1039/C3NR01417G, Paper

FREE: A methodology for preparing nanostructured biomolecular interfaces with high enzymatic activity
Lu Shin Wong, Chinnan V. Karthikeyan, Daniel J. Eichelsdoerfer, Jason Micklefield and Chad A. Mirkin
DOI: 10.1039/C1NR11443C, Paper

PCCP is committed to publishing the best research across physical chemistry, chemical physics and biophysical chemistry.

FREE: Miniaturized biological and electrochemical fuel cells: challenges and applications
Jie Yang, Sasan Ghobadian, Payton J. Goodrich, Reza Montazami and Nastaran Hashemi
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP50804H, Perspective

FREE: Plasmonic fluorescence enhancement by metal nanostructures: shaping the future of bionanotechnology
Daniel Darvill, Anthony Centeno and Fang Xie
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP50415H, Perspective

FREE: Construction of biomimetic smart nanochannels with polymer membranes and application in energy conversion systems
Liping Wen, Ye Tian, Jie Ma, Jin Zhai and Lei Jiang
DOI: 10.1039/C2CP23911F, Perspective

FREE: Encapsulation of actives for sustained release
Markus Andersson Trojer, Lars Nordstierna, Matias Nordin, Magnus Nydén and Krister Holmberg
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP52686K, Perspective

FREE: Mussel inspired surface functionalization of electrospun nanofibers for bio-applications
Søren Roesgaard Nielsen, Flemming Besenbacher and Menglin Chen
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP52651H, Perspective

FREE: Physics and engineering of peptide supramolecular nanostructures
Amir Handelman, Peter Beker, Nadav Amdursky and Gil Rosenman
DOI: 10.1039/C2CP40157F, Perspective

FREE: A pacemaker powered by an implantable biofuel cell operating under conditions mimicking the human blood circulatory system – battery not included
Mark Southcott, Kevin MacVittie, Jan Halámek, Lenka Halámková, William D. Jemison, Robert Lobel and Evgeny Katz
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP50929J, Paper

FREE: A novel three-dimensional macrocellular carbonaceous biofuel cell
Victoria Flexer, Nicolas Brun, Mathieu Destribats, Rénal Backov and Nicolas Mano
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP50807B, Pape

FREE: In situ fluorescence and electrochemical monitoring of a photosynthetic microbial fuel cell
Alister E. Inglesby, Kamran Yunus and Adrian C. Fisher
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP51076J, Paper

FREE: Surface morphology and surface energy of anode materials influence power outputs in a multi-channel mediatorless bio-photovoltaic (BPV) system
Paolo Bombelli, Marie Zarrouati, Rebecca J. Thorne, Kenneth Schneider, Stephen J. L. Rowden, Akin Ali, Kamran Yunus, Petra J. Cameron, Adrian C. Fisher, D. Ian Wilson, Christopher J. Howe and Alistair J. McCormick
DOI: 10.1039/C2CP42526B, Paper

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The top ten highest scoring articles in EES according to Altmetrics

You can now find “Altmetric” data for articles in Energy & Environmental Science on our website, alongside information about citations to our articles.

With a constantly changing publishing landscape and changes to the way people use scientific literature, altmetrics is a measure that can monitor the level of conversation and interest in a particular piece of research at the article level. The different colours in the Altmetric “donut” indicate the number of times the article has been mentioned on Twitter, Facebook, newspapers, blogs and other outlets. Check out the “Metrics” tab on each article page for more information.

So get involved: tweet about your latest article, share a link to an interesting review on Facebook, and spread the word about some of the excellent science being published.

Energy & Environmental Science is on Twitter (@EES_journal) and Facebook (, tweeting and posting about events you may find interesting as well as our latest hot articles and news. If you are using these social media sites too, please do follow/like us.

The current top ten scoring articles in Energy & Environmental Science according to Altmetrics are:

Worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident
John E. Ten Hoeve and Mark Z. Jacobson
DOI: 10.1039/C2EE22019A

The energetic implications of curtailing versus storing solar- and wind-generated electricity (Open Access)
Charles J. Barnhart, Michael Dale, Adam R. Brandt and Sally M. Benson
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE41973H

Assessing the drivers of regional trends in solar photovoltaic manufacturing (Open Access)
Alan C. Goodrich, Douglas M. Powell, Ted L. James, Michael Woodhouse and Tonio Buonassisi
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE40701B

On chip, all solid-state and flexible micro-supercapacitors with high performance based on MnOx/Au multilayers
Wenping Si, Chenglin Yan, Yao Chen, Steffen Oswald, Luyang Han and Oliver G. Schmidt
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE41286E

On the importance of reducing the energetic and material demands of electrical energy storage
Charles J. Barnhart and Sally M. Benson
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE24040A

High Seebeck coefficient redox ionic liquid electrolytes for thermal energy harvesting
Theodore J. Abraham, Douglas R. MacFarlane and Jennifer M. Pringle
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE41608A

High photo-electrochemical activity of thylakoid–carbon nanotube composites for photosynthetic energy conversion
Jessica O. Calkins, Yogeswaran Umasankar, Hugh O’Neill and Ramaraja P. Ramasamy
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE40634B

Biomass-derived electrocatalytic composites for hydrogen evolution
Wei-Fu Chen, Shilpa Iyer, Shweta Iyer, Kotaro Sasaki, Chiu-Hui Wang, Yimei Zhu, James T. Muckerman and Etsuko Fujita
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE40596F

Opinion on “Worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident” by J. E. Ten Hoeve and M. Z. Jacobson, Energy Environ. Sci., 2012, 5, DOI: 10.1039/c2ee22019a
Burton Richter
DOI: 10.1039/C2EE22658H

Post-combustion carbon dioxide capture using electrochemically mediated amine regeneration
Michael C. Stern, Fritz Simeon, Howard Herzog and T. Alan Hatton
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE41165F

We are interested to hear your feedback on this new development and how you are utilising these new types of metrics. Please get in touch by email (

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SuNEC 2013: There is Enough Sun for All

Jointly organized by the Institute of Nanostructured Materials of Italy’s Research Council (CNR) and by Palermo’s University Department of Electrical Engineering (DEIM), the third “SuNEC – Sun New Energy Conference” was held in Santa Flavia, Sicily, on September 10-12, 2013.

The lectures, oral presentations and poster presentations highlighted approaches to exploit solar energy, including concentrated solar power, thin-film photovoltaics, artifical photosynthesis and solar thermal energy.

Invited speakers at SuNEC 2013 included Yu A. Baurov (Russian Academy of the Sciences), Wai-Yeung Wong (Hong Kong Baptist University) Antonino S. Aricò (CNR, Italy), Francesco Meneguzzo (CNR, Italy) as well as novelist and thinker Ottavio Cappellani (Catania, Italy).

The winner of the 2013 Poster presentation was Maria Rita Girolamo.

The 4th edition of the SuNEC Conference will be held in Sicily again, on the 8-10th September 2014. Interested scientists can easily register online at

You might be interested in these articles in EES:

Solar hydrogen: fuel of the near future
Mario Pagliaro, Athanasios G. Konstandopoulos, Rosaria Ciriminna and Giovanni Palmisano
Journal Article Energy Environ. Sci., 2010,3, 279-287
DOI: 10.1039/B923793N, Perspective

Solar cells with one-day energy payback for the factories of the future
Nieves Espinosa, Markus Hösel, Dechan Angmo and Frederik C. Krebs
Journal Article Energy Environ. Sci., 2012,5, 5117-5132
DOI: 10.1039/C1EE02728J, Analysis

Plasmonic solar water splitting
Scott C. Warren and Elijah Thimsen
Journal Article Energy Environ. Sci., 2012,5, 5133-5146
DOI: 10.1039/C1EE02875H, Review Article

You might also be interested in our solar fuels and solar photovoltaics collections.

View “A focus on solar photovoltaics”

View “A Focus on Solar Fuels and Artificial Photosynthesis”

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Indirect Nanoplasmonic Sensing for In Situ Studies of Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

Researchers led by Professor Christoph Langhammer have developed a novel tool based on indirect nanoplasmonic sensing for in situ studies of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). Their work elucidates the kinetics of dye impregnation into mesoporous TiO2, known to be a critical step in fabrication of DSSCs and therefore important for scale-up of DSSCs.

DSSCs offer a potentially low-cost, aesthetically appealing alternative to conventional silicon based technologies. The key components of a cell are a TiO2 film filled with a densely packed monolayer of photon absorbing dye molecules and an electrolyte. Mechanism-oriented tools and studies are needed to understand how to reproducibly form an optimal dye monolayer on the TiO2 and how to make the DSSC fabrication process compatible with industrial demands. Langhammer’s group has done exactly that by using a new method to follow the dye impregnation process in detail.

The researchers use Hidden Interface-Indirect Nanoplasmonic Sensing (HI-INPS), a technique that uses the localized surface plasmon resonance of Au nanoparticles (coated with a thin dielectric layer). When illuminated with near-visible light, their sensitivity to dielectric changes. This sensitivity is short- ranged, typically within 50–100 nm from the sensor particle surface. Therefore if a thick layer of material, like mesoporous TiO2, is deposited onto such a sensor chip, the plasmonic Au sensor particles probe the hidden interface region between the sensor chip surface and the sample material. HI-INPS is a neat way to monitor the dye molecule adsorption without disturbing the DSSC.

They use a combination of quantitative experimental data for the time it takes the dye molecules to diffuse with a simple theoretical model incorporating fast adsorption and diffusion through the porous system, to get values for the effective diffusion coefficient in the porous structure. They have successfully demonstrated the HI-INPS technique in the context of DSSCs. The technique is very general and has a lot potential in other diffusion studies in nano- and microporous materials.

Read the paper here:

Diffusion and adsorption of dye molecules in mesoporous TiO2 photoelectrodes studied by indirect nanoplasmonic sensing
Viktoria Gusak, Leo-Philipp Heiniger, Vladimir P. Zhdanov, Michael Grätzel, Bengt Kasemo and Christoph Langhammer
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42352B

By Prineha Narang

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Powering Growth through Open Innovation: Register for the Chemistry World Webinar

Do you want to embrace open innovation, but not sure where to start? This webinar will provide a short overview of the open innovation concept, the best practice and platforms used by Syngenta to engage with innovation from anywhere in support of its corporate ambition “to bring greater food security in an environmentally sustainable way to an increasing populous world by creating a worldwide step-change in farm productivity

Our next free, one hour, interactive Chemistry World Webinar, being streamed on Thursday 24 October at 12:00 (BST), will provide a short overview of the open innovation concept, the best practice and platforms.

Register here or add this event to your calendar

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Renewable Energy Storage in Biomass?

Researchers at TU Braunschweig under the direction of Professor Uwe Schröder have demonstrated highly selective electrochemical hydrogenation of two furanics, common biomass derivatives.

Chemical hydrogenation of biomass substrates can be a difficult prospect.  High pressures of H2 at high temperature would make any chemist with a reasonable expectation of longevity understandably squeamish.  According to research from the University of Technology at Braunschweig, a potentiostat may be the organic chemist’s best friend.

In their recent article in EES, the authors, Schröder and Nilges, demonstrate the electrochemical conversion of furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural to 2-methylfuran and 2,5-dimethylfuran, respectively.  These substrates are derived from lignocellulosic biomass or from polysaccharides such as cellulose and starch.  By demonstrating selective electroorganic reduction at copper and lead electrodes, this work opens the possibility of inexpensive electrochemical reactors that could improve the value of biomass-derived compounds.

One main problem is the competing hydrogen evolution reaction (HER).  This is a common hurdle for reductive electrochemistry on most electrode surfaces and can severely limit Faradaic efficiency.  The authors report that for this system, running high concentrations (500 mM) of substrate can reduce percentage of electrons lost to HER.  While this presents a challenge for scaling-up, these products actually separate from the aqueous electrolyte solution, forming another phase that is relatively easy to remove.

Looking to the future, this work represents an intriguing combination of renewable energy strategies – using renewable sources of energy to convert biomass to more useful or at least more energy dense chemicals.  Certainly, the energy future poses some daunting challenges that resist any single silver bullet.  By combining renewable energy storage with biofuel substrates, some challenging steps in both fields might be avoidable.

By Michael Doud

Read the article in EES:

Electrochemistry for biofuel generation: production of furans by electrocatalytic hydrogenation of furfurals
Peter Nilges and Uwe Schröder
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE41857J, Communication

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This week’s HOT articles

Exciton diffusion in organic photovoltaic cells
S. Matthew Menke and Russell J. Holmes
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42444H, Review Article

A carbon quantum dot decorated RuO2 network: outstanding supercapacitances under ultrafast charge and discharge
Yirong Zhu, Xiaobo Ji, Chenchi Pan, Qingqing Sun, Weixin Song, Laibing Fang, Qiyuan Chen and Craig E. Banks
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE41776J, Paper

First-row transition metal dichalcogenide catalysts for hydrogen evolution reaction
Desheng Kong, Judy J. Cha, Haotian Wang, Hye Ryoung Lee and Yi Cui
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42413H, Communication

A monolithic device for solar water splitting based on series interconnected thin film absorbers reaching over 10% solar-to-hydrogen efficiency
T. Jesper Jacobsson, Viktor Fjällström, Martin Sahlberg, Marika Edoff and Tomas Edvinsson
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42519C, Paper

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Solar water splitting: 10 % solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency using series interconnected thin-film absorbers

Researchers from Sweden have demonstrated a process where the crucial 10 % solar-to-hydrogen (STH) efficiency threshold – required for a device to be considered commercially viable – is met by connecting a number of solar-absorbers in series along with a Pt-based catalyst.

Harnessing the power of the sun to directly split water in order to produce hydrogen is anticipated to be an important process in post-carbon, green economies.

Normally there is a trade-off between high solar-absorption and high water splitting efficiency due to the mismatch between the energy required for water splitting (about 2 eV) and the most efficient band-gap for harvesting solar light (about 1.35 eV).

In their recent article, the research group from Uppsala University have overcome this problem by interconnecting 3 cells, based on the semiconductor CuInxGa1-xSe2 (CIGS), into a single monolithic device. By placing the semiconductors in series, and tuning them for efficient absorption of the solar spectrum (achieved by varying the In:Ga ratio), their device can have both a high solar absorption efficiency and a sufficiently high electrochemical potential to drive the water splitting reaction.

Due to the relative simplicity of the approach, the authors suggest that this may be an economically compatible route to green H2 production. What’s more, they claim that this novel approach has room for an increase of several percentage points in STH efficiency, and that it has opened the door to many other photoabsorbers, which were previously disregarded due to too-low band gaps, being re-investigated. In any case, the outlook for this field certainly looks bright.

By Aled D. Roberts

Take a look at the article in EES:

A monolithic device for solar water splitting based on series interconnected thin film absorbers reaching over 10 % solar-to-hydrogen efficiency
Jesper Tor Jacobsson, Viktor Fjällström, Martin Sahlberg, Marika Edoff and Tomas Edvinsson
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42519C, Paper

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2nd International Conference on Clean Energy Sciences

The 2nd International Conference on Clean Energy Sciences (ICCES2) will take place on the 13-16 April 2014 in Qingdao, China.

The search for sources of clean energy is becoming increasingly urgent as the supply of available energy from fossil fuels decreases and concerns increase about their environmental impact. Alternative sources of clean energy, such as solar energy and biofuels offer great potential; however there are big challenges to be overcome before current clean energy generation and energy storage technologies make these a viable alternative.

This 2nd International Conference on Clean Energy offers a unique opportunity for international researchers to discuss the latest developments in clean energy and energy storage research, and the fundamental issues surrounding the scientific challenges faced ahead.

Important dates:

Deadline for oral abstract submission: 10 November, 2013
Deadline for poster abstract submission: 9 January, 2014
Deadline for early registration: 30 January, 2014
Deadline for normal registration: 13 March, 2014

More information can be found on the website:

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