Focus IssuesThis focus issue of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES) is devoted to proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) durability. Commercialization of light duty fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) was initiated in December 2014 and now three automakers offer FCVs. Commercial viability was enabled by R&D efforts that reduced the cost and extended the lifetime of FCV PEMFC systems by a projected >60% and 4x, respectively, over the past decade.

However, market share for FCVs has been limited thus far, primarily due to an insufficient hydrogen fueling infrastructure, but also to the still considerable cost of fuel cell systems able to reach the 8,000 h target lifetime. For example, it is recognized that a decrease in platinum loading negatively impacts durability. It is projected that a 5% world market share for FCVs will be reached in 2033. With substantial market share many years away and the considerable cost of current FCVs, research into the durability of materials for fuel cell systems that can concurrently lower the system cost will play a significant role in technology developments for many years to come. This focus issue of the JES will collect the most recent research papers and reviews of technical issues related to the durability of PEMFCs.

The deadline for submissions is December 3, 2017. Submit today!

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ECS hosted its first ever satellite OpenCon event on October 1, 2017 during the 232nd ECS Meeting in National Harbor, MD. This landmark event marked ECS’s first large community effort aimed at creating a culture of change in how research is designed, shared, discussed, and disseminated, with the ultimate goal of making scientific progress faster.

Watch full coverage of the event.

OpenCon is an international event hosted by the Right to Research Coalition, a student organization of SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. OpenCon provides a platform the researchers to learn about open access and open science, develop critical skills, and catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information.

This event featured vocal advocates in the open movement, examining the intersection of advances in research infrastructure, the researcher experience, funder mandates and policies, as well as the global shift that is happening in traditional scholarly communications.

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Researchers have developed a type of “smart paper” that can conduct electricity and detect water.

The paper, laced with conductive nanomaterials, can be employed as a switch, turning on or off an LED light, or as an alarm system indicating the absence or presence of water.

In cities and large-scale manufacturing plants, a water leak in a complicated network of pipes can take tremendous time and effort to detect, as technicians must disassemble many pieces to locate the problem.

The American Water Works Association indicates that nearly a quarter-million water line breaks occur each year in the United States, costing public water utilities about $2.8 billion annually.

The smart paper could simplify the process for discovering detrimental leaks.

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Deadline for Submitting Abstracts
November 17, 2017
Submit today!

Topic Close-up #3

Symposium E01: Electrodeposition of Micro and Nano Materials for Batteries and Sensors

Symposium Focus: This symposium will cover advances in electrochemical deposition (electrolytic, electroless, chemical bath or electrochemical ALD) for energy storage and sensor devices. The electronics industry has demonstrated electrochemical processing at micro and nano dimensions for interconnect, barrier layer, magnetics and solder applications for metals, alloys and composites. A large number of relevant active materials and current collector scaffolds can also be deposited, structured and post-processed electrochemically for use in advanced batteries and sensor devices. These processes can enable future micro-devices for the internet of things but equally can address improvements in certain components for large capacity batteries, electrolyzers or fuel cells. Our symposium welcomes also papers covering vapor deposition techniques such as ALD which can be used in combination with the wet chemical deposition routes for the fabrication of microdevices.

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By: Kevin Elliott, Michigan State University

Scientists these days face a conundrum. As Americans are buffeted by accounts of fake news, alternative facts and deceptive social media campaigns, how can researchers and their scientific expertise contribute meaningfully to the conversation?

There is a common perception that science is a matter of hard facts and that it can and should remain insulated from the social and political interests that permeate the rest of society. Nevertheless, many historians, philosophers and sociologists who study the practice of science have come to the conclusion that trying to kick values out of science risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Ethical and social values – like the desire to promote economic development, public health or environmental protection – often play integral roles in scientific research. By acknowledging this, scientists might seem to give away their authority as a defense against the flood of misleading, inaccurate information that surrounds us. But I argue in my book “A Tapestry of Values: An Introduction to Values in Science” that if scientists take appropriate steps to manage and communicate about their values, they can promote a more realistic view of science as both value-laden and reliable.

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Carbon dioxideNew research sheds light on the effectiveness and value of carbon-pricing incentive programs.

In a new paper, based on analysis of a 2015 pilot program on the Yale University campus, researchers examine internal carbon-pricing strategies, including different models of implementation.

Further, they illustrate how the Yale project, which has since expanded into a campus-wide initiative, has provided empirical evidence of the effectiveness of these price signals.

More than 600 major companies—from BP to Microsoft—have adopted carbon-pricing programs to spur energy conservation and control their carbon emissions. But researchers have previously not analyzed or publicly reported the effectiveness of these efforts.

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By: Matt Murbach, University of Washington

Hack Day

Co-organizer David Beck led a hack session during the ECS Data Sciences Hack Day.

The full vibrancy of the electrochemical community was on show during the recent 232nd ECS Meeting in National Harbor, MD. Adding to the diversity of ideas and excitement for electrochemistry were the 30 participants of the inaugural ECS Data Sciences Hack Day on Wednesday, October 4. The participants in the hack day traveled from around the globe and represented varying stages of careers in both academic and industry roles.

The day-long event was kicked off with a short series of informational sessions covering some of the essential tools in any data scientist’s toolbox. During lunch, participants pitched their ideas for projects, and teams for the afternoon session organically formed around common interests. The remaining time during the afternoon was reserved as open “hacking” time for working on the project ideas. Excitingly, good progress was made in this four-hour block with teams working on a wide variety of projects, including:

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Student Poster Session

Winners of the Student Poster Session with ECS President Johna Leddy (center). Click to enlarge.

Congratulations to the winners of the General Student Poster Session for the 232nd ECS Meeting in National Harbor, Maryland!

ECS established the General Student Poster Session Awards in 1993 to acknowledge the eminence of its students’ work. The winners exhibit a profound understanding of their research topic and its relation to fields of interest to ECS.

In order to be eligible for the General Student Poster Session Awards, students must submit their abstracts to the Z01 General Society Student Poster Session symposium and present their posters at the biannual meeting.

The winners of the General Student Poster Session Awards for the 232st ECS Meeting are as follows:

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GridEngineers have developed a 4-in-1 smart utilities plant that produces electricity, water, air-conditioning, and heat in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way.

The eco-friendly system harvests waste energy and is suitable for building clusters and underground cities, especially those in the tropics.

“Currently, significant amount of energy is required for the generation of electricity, water, air-conditioning, and heat. Running four independent processes also result in extensive energy wastage, and such systems take up a huge floor area,” says Ernest Chua, associate professor in the mechanical engineering department at National University of Singapore Faculty of Engineering.

“With our smart plant, these processes are carefully integrated together such that waste energy can be harvested for useful output. Overall, this novel approach could cut energy usage by 25 to 30 percent and the 4-in-1 plant is also less bulky.

“Users can also enjoy cheaper and a more resilient supply of utilities.”

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By: Jeremy Straub, North Dakota State University

Driverless carIn the wake of car- and truck-based attacks around the world, most recently in New York City, cities are scrambling to protect busy pedestrian areas and popular events. It’s extremely difficult to prevent vehicles from being used as weapons, but technology can help.

Right now, cities are trying to determine where and how to place statues, spike strip nets and other barriers to protect crowds. Police departments are trying to gather better advance intelligence about potential threats, and training officers to respond – while regular people are seeking advice for surviving vehicle attacks.

These solutions aren’t enough: It’s impractical to put up physical barriers everywhere, and all but impossible to prevent would-be attackers from getting a vehicle. As a researcher of technologies for self-driving vehicles, I see that potential solutions already exist, and are built into many vehicles on the road today. There are, however, ethical questions to weigh about who should control the vehicle – the driver behind the wheel or the computer system that perceives potential danger in the human’s actions.

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