The ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, a partnership between The Electrochemical Society and Toyota Research Institute of North America, a division of Toyota Motor North America, is in its fourth year. The fellowship aims to encourage young professors and scholars to pursue research in green energy technology that may promote the development of next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels.
Our guest on this episode of the ECS Podcast is Shirley Meng, professor of NanoEngineering at the University of California, San Diego. Meng founded the Sustainable Power and Energy Center, the goal of which is solving key technical challenges in distributed energy generation, storage, and power management.
Meng is also the principal investigator of Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion research group. Her group is focused on functional nano and micro-scale materials for energy storage and conversion.
She talked to Rob Gerth, ECS’s director of marketing and communications.
In an effort to combat the detrimental effects of climate change, countries around the world are looking for the next big thing in energy. In Sweden, part of that answer may be in buoys drifting in the ocean.
For the first time, Wave Energy Converters the Sotenäs Wave Power Plant on the Swedish West Coast is generating electricity and transporting it to the Swedish grid through buoys.
This from Seabased:
The connection of the six meter diameter buoys to the corresponding linear generator Wave Energy Converters on the seabed represents the final step in bringing each unit on line, together making up a system establishing many World firsts, including the world’s first multiple unit wave power plant and the world’s first subsea generator switchgear.
Currently, Sweden is one of the global leader in clean energy solutions. Since the country’s oil crisis in the 1970s, the country has transitioned from an energy infrastructure from 70 percent dependency on oil to just a 20 percent dependency.
“This is a very significant achievement,” said Mats Leijon, CEO of Seabased. “We are very happy to have come this far and I wish to thank Fortum and the Swedish Energy Agency for their confidence and support all throughout this, sometimes tough, journey.”
Researchers are not only looking for alternative ways to generate energy, they’re also looking for alternative ways to store it. From ECS member Vilas Pol’s packing peanut batteries to innovative flow batteries; scientists are looking for a way to securely store and deliver clean energy to the grid.
Now, engineers from McMaster University are turning trees into energy storage devices that could potentially power everything from small electronic devices to electric vehicles. With any luck, this technology could be taken to large-scale grid applications.
This from McMaster University:
The scientists are using cellulose, an organic compound found in plants, bacteria, algae and trees, to build more efficient and longer-lasting energy storage devices or capacitors. This development paves the way toward the production of lightweight, flexible, and high-power electronics, such as wearable devices, portable power supplies and hybrid and electric vehicles.
ECS’s Nate Lewis is propelling his vision of efficient and affordable alternative energy sources with the new development of an “artificial leaf” system that splits water through solar energy to create hydrogen fuel.
“This new system shatters all of the combined safety, performance, and stability records for artificial leaf technology by factors of 5 to 10 or more,” says Lewis, a 33-year ECS member and scientific director of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis.
Shattering Water Splitting Records
He and his team, including postdoctoral scholar and ECS member Ke Sun, were able to achieve recording-setting outcomes through the development of a advice with three novel components: two electrodes, one photoanode and one photocathode, and a membrane.
This from Futurity:
The photoanode uses sunlight to oxidize water molecules, generating protons and electrons as well as oxygen gas. The photocathode recombines the protons and electrons to form hydrogen gas.
Researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) are looking to accelerate the biofuel industry with this new development in plant gene structure.
The UGA scientists have discovered that manipulating a certain gene in a hardwood tree makes easier the process of breaking wood into fuel, and simultaneously increases the pace of tree growth.
This from UGA:
In a paper published recently in Biotechnology for Biofuels, the researchers describe how decreasing the expression of a gene called GAUT12.1 leads to a reduction in xylan and pectin, two major components of plant cell walls that make them resistant to the enzymes and chemicals used to extract the fermentable sugars used to create biofuels.