Focus IssuesThe Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES) Focus Issue on Oxygen Reduction and Evolution Reactions for High Temperature Energy Conversion and Storage is now complete, with 16 open access papers published in the ECS Digital Library.

“In this new and exciting era of distributed electricity generation, the modularity (sub-kW to 100 kW systems) with minimal efficiency loss at small scales makes solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) an exciting energy conversion technology,” the authors say in the focus issue’s preface. “This focus issue presents some of the latest research in understanding fundamental mechanisms of ORR and OER, and highlights new materials and concepts to achieve both greater performance and long-term durability.”

Read the full JES Focus Issue on Oxygen Reduction and Evolution Reactions for High Temperature Energy Conversion and Storage.

ECS would like to thank JES technical editor Tom Fuller and this focus issue’s guest editors Sean Bishop, Ainara Aguadero, and Xingbo Liu.

Recycling Energy: From Waste to Reusable

Jaeho Lee, assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine and head of the Nano Thermal Energy Research Group.

Jaeho Lee, head of the Nano Thermal Energy Research Group.

Every year, around 60 percent of the energy produced in the United States is wasted. With a heavy reliance on traditional combustion cycles and the burning of fossil fuels, an astronomical amount of potentially usable energy dissipates into the environment as waste. However, there may be a way to harvest that waste energy without drastically changing the energy infrastructure.

Jaeho Lee, assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine and ECS member, recently presented a paper at the 228th ECS Meeting on the thermal transport in nanostructures targeting the applications of thermoelectric energy conversion. This innovative technology has the potential to be applied to the current energy infrastructure in an effort to harvest a percentage of the wasted energy.

“Thermoelectrics could allow us to harvest waste heat in any form,” says Lee. “We could talk about large-scale waste heat from factory combustion cycles, but it could also be as small as something we generate from our bodies.”

Thermoelectric Potential

Thermal energies exist everywhere. By harvesting waste energy, researchers are taking a complementary step toward a more sustainable energy infrastructure.

“Globally, we’re consuming a lot of energy,” says Lee. “The world population is continuously increasing. Not only that, our energy consumption rate is increasing.”

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How Your Car Could Be Powered by the Sun

By concentrating sunlight into reactors, H20 and CO2 can be split to form liquid fuels.Image: The Conversation/David Hahn

By concentrating sunlight into reactors, H2O and CO2 can be split to form liquid fuels.
Image: The Conversation/David Hahn

The sun produces an astronomical amount of energy each day, but scientists and engineers are still trying to better understand how to convert that energy into an efficient, usable form. Recently, work in photovoltaics deals with utilizing different materials, new arrangements of cell components, and interdisciplinary work to improve efficiently levels. However, a new and exciting area of photovoltaics is now rising in the ranks: turning sunlight into liquid fuels.

With this new development on the rise, the possibility of one day filling our cars with solar-generated fuel is on the horizon.

Researchers are giving more attention to the production of solar fuels because energy conversion and storage and simultaneously covered under one technique. It will give solar energy a wider scope due to more utilization opportunities, whereas conventional photovoltaic energy is only being used for one-third of the day when sunlight is at its peak.

Currently, the greatest roadblock lies in commercialization of the man-made solar fuels due to the substantial amount of energy it takes to break down stable CO2 and H2O molecules.

However, researchers are also exploring aspects of artificial photosynthesis through electrochemistry to help produce efficient, affordable man-made solar fuels.

Further material from the ECS Digital Library:

Read more about processes and current projects on The Conversation.

PS: Watch Ralph Brodd, a pillar of electrochemical science and technology with over 40 years in the electrochemical energy conversion business, talk about the future of the energy infrastructure and how it has transformed over the years.

Member Spotlight – Luke Haverhals

What better day than Earth Day to highlight the work of ECS member Luke Haverhals, an assistant professor at Bradley University working in novel types of energy storage and conversion through the utilization of renewable, sustainable substrates such as hemp, wood, and silk.

Haverhals is a former student of current ECS 3rd Vice-President Johna Leddy. Since departing from Leddy and the University of Iowa, Haverhals has worked in an area focused on wielding natural fibers using ionic liquids (i.e. enhanced energy conversion devices).

Ionic liquids have been gaining much notoriety lately, with potential game changing electrolytes for energy conversion devices ranging from batteries to fuel cells.

Make sure to join Haverhals and other scientists pioneering world-changing research by joining ECS today and attending our upcoming scientific meeting!

Meet the Glasgow Organizers

Glasgow_blog_imageThe ECS Conference on Electrochemical Energy Conversion & Storage with SOFC-XIV convening in Glasgow, Scotland at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre from July 26-31, 2015 is the first of a series of planned biennial conferences in Europe by ECS on electrochemical energy conversion/storage materials, concepts, and systems.

We are creating a forum where scientists and engineers can come together and discuss fundamental advances and engineering innovations.

Abstracts are due February 20, 2015
Find out more about submitting your abstract today!

The lead organizers of this conference are among the top researchers in their respective fields. We wanted to take a moment to introduce them to you:

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First Solar-Powered Bike Lane in Netherlands

SolaRoad coverts sunlight on the road surface into electricity: the road network works as an inexhaustible source of green power.Credit: SolaRoad

SolaRoad converts sunlight on the road surface into electricity: the road network works as an inexhaustible source of green power.
Credit: SolaRoad

A solar-powered cycle path – called SolaRoad – has been unveiled in the Netherlands. The path can generate enough electricity to power three households, reports BBC.

The new path has been installed in Kormmenie, which is 25 kilometers from Amsterdam. While the path is currently 70 meters long, it will be extended to 100 meters by 2016.

Dr. Sten de Wit from SolaRoad believes that this is just the beginning for solar-powered paths. Dr. de Wit foresees solar roads eventually being used to power the electric vehicles that use them, similar to Dutch developer Heijmans and designer Daan Roosegaard in their “smart highway.”

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The researchers at Virginia Tech have successfully demonstrated the concept of a sugar biobattery that can completely convert the chemical energy in sugar substrates into electricity. Credit: Virginia Tech University

The researchers at Virginia Tech have successfully demonstrated the concept of a sugar biobattery that can completely convert the chemical energy in sugar substrates into electricity.
Credit: Virginia Tech University

According to new studies, the future of energy storage and conversion may be something that’s sitting in your kitchen cupboard.

A new breakthrough out of Virginia Tech demonstrates that a sugar-powered biobattery has the potential to outperform the current lithium-ion batteries on many fronts.

Not only is the energy density of the sugar-powered battery significantly higher than that of the lithium-ion battery, but the sugar battery is also less costly than the li-ion, refillable, environmentally friendly, and nonflammable.

This from LiveScience:

This nature-inspired biobattery is a type of enzymatic fuel cell (EFC) — an electrobiochemical device that converts chemical energy from fuels such as starch and glycogen into electricity. While EFCs operate under the same general principles as traditional fuel cells, they use enzymes instead of noble-metal catalysts to oxidize their fuel. Enzymes allow for the use of more-complex fuels (such as glucose), and these more-complex fuels are what give EFCs their superior energy density.

Read the full article here.

The scientists hope to increase the power density, extend the lifetime, and reduce the cost of electrode materials in order for this energy-dense sugar biobattery to become the technology of the future.

Find the full findings in this issue of Nature Communications.

Learn more about this topic by reading a recently published open access article via ECS’s Digital Library.

Lead-acid car batteries

According to engineers at MIT, we can recycle them to make long-lasting, low-cost solar panels. Credit: Christine Daniloff

The old lead-acid battery in your car may not be as useless or environmentally dangerous as was once thought. In fact, these batteries may be the answer to creating a cheap source of green energy.

According to engineers at MIT, old lead-acid batteries can be recycled and easily converted into long-lasting, low-cost solar panels. So far, the solar cells in the panels have yielded promising results – achieving over 19 percent efficiency in converting sunlight to useable electricity.

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