Reviews & Analysis

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  • Long-duration energy storage technologies can be a solution to the intermittency problem of wind and solar power but estimating technology costs remains a challenge. New research identifies cost targets for long-duration storage technologies to make them competitive against different firm low-carbon generation technologies.

    • Omar J. Guerra
    News & Views
  • Electrochromic windows can reduce buildings’ energy demand and improve occupants’ comfort, yet they struggle to fully meet market needs. Now, researchers demonstrate that polymer additives improve light and solar heat modulation of reflective electrochromic windows, with potential for durable, large-scale and low-cost manufacturing.

    • Stephen Selkowitz
    News & Views
  • Wind energy’s contribution to primary energy supply has increased in the past decade, while technology costs have decreased faster than predicted. New work finds that recent expert estimates of wind technology costs by 2050 are around half what they were in 2015, implying a bigger role for wind energy in low-carbon development pathways.

    • Elena Verdolini
    News & Views
  • Liquid-electrolyte-fed electrolysers are promising for conversion of carbon dioxide into fuels and chemicals, but suffer stability issues due to precipitate formation at the cathode. New research reports the prevention of salt formation at porous electrodes, bringing the technology one step closer to industrial commercialization.

    • Klaas Jan P. Schouten
    News & Views
  • Innovative energy business models, such as peer-to-peer trading or energy as a service, are attractive to different groups of customers. Disengaged consumers with low trust in the energy market could face further disadvantages, while already active consumers could reap even greater benefits, which risks widening existing socio-economic inequalities.

    • Stephen Hall
    • Jillian Anable
    • Yvonne Matthews
    Policy Brief
  • The current mainstream photovoltaic technology used in industry has a power conversion efficiency above 23% in mass production but major further improvements are challenging. Researchers now demonstrate a 26% efficiency by implementing passivating contacts on double-side contacted solar cells.

    • Robby Peibst
    News & Views
  • The development of metallic anodes for next-generation high-energy batteries is largely hindered by dendritic growth issues. Now, an interface between metals and substrates is engineered to facilitate their strong chemical bonding, leading to uniform metal deposition and high battery cycling reversibility.

    • Edward Matios
    • Weiyang Li
    News & Views
  • Flow batteries based on, for example, polysulfide suffer severe performance deterioration due to active species crossover in membranes. Now, a charge-reinforced ion-selective membrane is designed to support long-term cycling of polysulfide redox flow batteries by blocking the crossover.

    • Wei Wang
    News & Views
  • Fuel cells are increasingly being considered for powertrains of heavy-duty transportation. Cullen et al. survey the technical challenges of fuel cells at both the system and materials level for transportation application and outline the roadmap for future development.

    • David A. Cullen
    • K. C. Neyerlin
    • Ahmet Kusoglu
    Review Article
  • Alkali metal electrodes paired with solid electrolyte separators show great promise in improving the energy density, safety and cost of batteries. Now, a deeper understanding of the effect of metal mechanical properties on a key failure mode creates opportunities for improved cycling performance.

    • Paul Albertus
    News & Views
  • Low-temperature operation of lithium batteries is notoriously challenging. However, tailoring the electrolyte structure may provide a pathway toward uniform lithium deposition and reversible operation of lithium metal anodes at low temperatures.

    • Kelsey B. Hatzell
    News & Views
  • Widespread adoption of thermal storage systems is limited by their complex transient response, which is dependent on material properties, module geometry and thermal load. Now, an approach to evaluate energy and power density adapted from electrochemical storage reveals design trade-offs in thermal storage modules.

    • Patrick J. Shamberger
    News & Views
  • With increasing global communications, we have experienced increasing misinformation. New research shows that mere exposure to misinformation about smart meters is related to perceptions of related risks. Increased knowledge about smart meters can reduce the impact of some misinformation but it does not work for all types.

    • A. Spence
    • K. Spence
    News & Views
  • Oxygen redox in Li-rich oxide cathodes is of both fundamental and practical interest in Li-ion battery development. Bruce and team examine the current understanding of oxygen-redox processes, especially those concerning O2 formation, and discuss strategies that can harness oxygen redox with suppressed side effects.

    • Robert A. House
    • John-Joseph Marie
    • Peter G. Bruce
  • Efforts to replace traditional energy sources with modern ones in developing countries have met with limited success. A new study sheds light on some of the contextual factors that inhibit this shift as well as opportunities for nudging poor households in the desired direction.

    • Temilade Sesan
    News & Views
  • Metal oxide photoanodes are promising for solar-driven water oxidation, but a greater understanding of surfaces is required to minimize efficiency losses. New research shows that controlling terminal compositions of otherwise identical facets of complex oxides has a profound impact on photoelectrochemical function.

    • Ian D. Sharp
    News & Views
  • Performance assessments of redox flow batteries (RFBs) can be challenging due to inconsistency in testing methods and conditions. Here the authors summarize major performance metrics of RFBs, analyse their degradation mechanisms and propose testing protocols for benchmarking.

    • Yanxin Yao
    • Jiafeng Lei
    • Yi-Chun Lu
  • Carbon dioxide electroreduction is a promising approach to synthesize chemicals and fuels using renewable energy. This Review explores our understanding of anion exchange membranes — a key component of certain carbon dioxide electrolysers — and outlines approaches to design improved materials.

    • Danielle A. Salvatore
    • Christine M. Gabardo
    • Curtis P. Berlinguette
    Review Article
  • High-performance solid-state electrolytes are key to enabling solid-state batteries that hold great promise for future energy storage. The authors survey the fabrication process of thin-film versus thick oxide-based solid-state electrolytes and discuss their material design and processing options.

    • Moran Balaish
    • Juan Carlos Gonzalez-Rosillo
    • Jennifer L. M. Rupp
    Review Article
  • Tremendous research progress has been made in the development of post-lithium-ion batteries (PLIBs), yet there is little discussion on the manufacturing of these upcoming technologies. In this Review, the authors survey the current production status of several representative PLIBs and offer an industrial-scale manufacturing outlook.

    • Fabian Duffner
    • Niklas Kronemeyer
    • Richard Schmuch
    Review Article