Chinese Chemical Letters  2017, Vol. 28 Issue (12): 2169-2170   PDF    
Innovative materials for renewable energy
Shaojun Guoa, Yan Yub, Qiang Zhangc    
a Department of Materials Science and Engineering & Department of Energy and Resources Engineering, College of Engineering, Peking University, China;
b School of Chemistry and Materials Science, University of Science and Technology of China, China;
c Department of Chemical Engineering, Tsinghua University, China

Fossil fuels have sustained the prosperity of human civilization for centuries since the invention of internal combustion engine during the first industrial revolution. However, several drawbacks also come along with the wide-spread adoption of fossil fuels, namely, energy shortage, environmental pollution, global warming, and so on. It is therefore highly desirable to conduct renewable and clean energy innovation, in an effort to power the world with alternative and affordable energy. To realize this goal, numerous efforts have been devoted to developing advanced technologies that enable high utilization ratio of renewable energy, such as wind and solar energy, which gives rise to tremendous progress. For example, the total consumption of wind and solar energy increased around seven times in the past ten years in the United States. Here in China, it is estimated that the renewable energy will contribute to around 15% of the total generated electricity. Despite these efforts, many technical limitations remain at current stage. Especially, the operation efficiency is still below the expected target for large-scale application. Meanwhile, from the commercialization point of view, the cost of current renewable energy technology is not competitive to that of fossil fuel technology. To a large extent, these limitations are closely tied to the lack of feasible materials, which play the dominant role in determining the operative performance as well as the total cost.

In the past decade, the search, design and construction of promising renewable energy materials has become one of the hottest research field. Developing high-efficiency materials for harvesting solar energy represents an important research direction. The harvested solar energy can either be directly converted to electricity via solar cells, or be used to generate hydrogen via splitting water and convert CO2 into high-value chemicals. In addition to the exploitation of renewable energy sources, it is equally important to develop advanced energy storage technique, the performance of which critically dependson the applied electrode materials. Herein, it is a great honor to invite 23 outstanding scholars to contribute their research achievements to this specific issue. The topics well address the aforementioned issues, which covers solar cells, photoelectrochemical cells for H2 generation, photocatalysis for water splitting, contaminants decomposition, CO2 conversion, rechargeable Li-ion and Na-ion batteries, as well as supercapacitors. Both review and research article are included. We believe this issue would be of great interest and value to the global range of research groups, who dedicate to the innovative materials for renewable energy.

Finally, we would like to express our sincere thanks to all the authors, referees and Editorial Board. We always welcome any comment, suggestion, and feedback.