Volume 2 Issue 4 April 2017

Volume 2 Issue 4

Seawater source

There are huge amounts of uranium present in the oceans that could be used for nuclear fuel, but recovery methods suffer from low capacity and limited extraction rates. Liu et al. use a pulsed electric field to migrate uranyl ions to a polymer-functionalized electrode, where they deposit on the surface as uranium oxide (shown here). The uptake capacity and kinetics of the extraction are improved relative to conventional physicochemical methods.

See Liu et al. 2, 17007 (2017) and News & Views by Costas Tsouris, article 17022.

Image: Liu et al. Cover design: Samantha Whitham.


  • Editorial |

    Clean energy initiatives offer a way to realise substantial global health benefits.

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    There are over four billion tonnes of uranium in the oceans that could be harvested for nuclear fuel, but current capture methods have limited performance and reusability. Now, an electrochemical method using modified carbon electrodes is shown to be promising for the extraction of uranium from seawater.

    • Costas Tsouris
  • News & Views |

    It is important to include the public in the processes by which decisions on societal trajectories are made. A study shows that interactive scenario-building tools can engage people in the holistic complexities of energy transitions, but these tools must be designed and used with care because elicited preferences can be influenced by contextual factors.

    • Tim Chatterton
  • News & Views |

    Various programmes have been introduced to increase energy efficiency in buildings. A study of commercial buildings in Los Angeles, USA, now finds that voluntary certification programmes have been effective at lowering energy use, bringing savings of up to 30%.

    • Margaret Walls
  • News & Views |

    Cheap, efficient, and stable thin photovoltaics that use abundant and non-toxic materials can deliver widespread renewable energy. New results using Earth-abundant and potentially cheap ZnO/Sb2Se3 solar cells indicate promising levels of stability.

    • Supratik Guha
  • News & Views |

    Public fears of nuclear power are widespread, especially in the aftermath of accidents, yet their benefits are rarely fully considered. A new study shows how the closure of two nuclear power plants in the 1980s increased air pollution and led to a measurable reduction in birth weights, a key indicator of future health outcomes.

    • Michael Shellenberger


  • Feature |

    The shade from trees reliably cools humans and the environment in which they live. Researchers are now trying to show how the energy savings of this ecosystem service can be measured.

    • Lisa Palmer


  • Article |

    The large amount of uranium in the oceans could be exploited for nuclear fuel, but existing physicochemical extraction methods are limited in terms of capacity and rates of removal. Here the authors use an electrochemical extraction technique, demonstrating improved uptake capacity and kinetics.

    • Chong Liu
    • , Po-Chun Hsu
    • , Jin Xie
    • , Jie Zhao
    • , Tong Wu
    • , Haotian Wang
    • , Wei Liu
    • , Jinsong Zhang
    • , Steven Chu
    •  & Yi Cui
  • Article |

    Perovskite solar cells can complement silicon photovoltaics in multijunction devices. Here, the authors optimize light harvesting in monolithic perovskite-on-silicon devices and fabricate a certified 23.6% efficient, 1 cm2 tandem solar cell with a perovskite device that withstands damp heat tests.

    • Kevin A. Bush
    • , Axel F. Palmstrom
    • , Zhengshan J. Yu
    • , Mathieu Boccard
    • , Rongrong Cheacharoen
    • , Jonathan P. Mailoa
    • , David P. McMeekin
    • , Robert L. Z. Hoye
    • , Colin D. Bailie
    • , Tomas Leijtens
    • , Ian Marius Peters
    • , Maxmillian C. Minichetti
    • , Nicholas Rolston
    • , Rohit Prasanna
    • , Sarah Sofia
    • , Duncan Harwood
    • , Wen Ma
    • , Farhad Moghadam
    • , Henry J. Snaith
    • , Tonio Buonassisi
    • , Zachary C. Holman
    • , Stacey F. Bent
    •  & Michael D. McGehee
  • Article |

    All-perovskite tandem solar cells hold the promise of high efficiencies whilst safeguarding the ease of fabrication intrinsic to perovskites. Here, Zhao et al. present a certified 17% efficient tin and lead perovskite solar cell, which is integrated as the low-bandgap component of a tandem device with 21% efficiency.

    • Dewei Zhao
    • , Yue Yu
    • , Changlei Wang
    • , Weiqiang Liao
    • , Niraj Shrestha
    • , Corey R. Grice
    • , Alexander J. Cimaroli
    • , Lei Guan
    • , Randy J. Ellingson
    • , Kai Zhu
    • , Xingzhong Zhao
    • , Ren-Gen Xiong
    •  & Yanfa Yan
  • Article |

    Photoreforming can produce H2 through the simultaneous reduction of water and the oxidation of organic molecules, such as those derived from biomass, but cheaper and more active photocatalysts are required. This study shows that CdS/CdOx produces H2 from unprocessed lignocellulose suspensions at high rates under solar illumination.

    • David W. Wakerley
    • , Moritz F. Kuehnel
    • , Katherine L. Orchard
    • , Khoa H. Ly
    • , Timothy E. Rosser
    •  & Erwin Reisner
  • Article |

    Energy future scenarios are used in policy decision-making but little is known about how they influence public preferences. This study shows that engaging with an interactive scenario-building tool strengthens existing preferences, but exemplar scenarios provide reference points that anchor choices.

    • Christina Demski
    • , Alexa Spence
    •  & Nick Pidgeon
  • Article |

    Solar water-splitting efficiency can be enhanced by careful bandgap selection in multi-junction semiconductor structures. Young et al. demonstrate a route that allows independent bandgap tuning of each junction in an immersed water-splitting device, enabling a solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of over 16%.

    • James L. Young
    • , Myles A. Steiner
    • , Henning Döscher
    • , Ryan M. France
    • , John A. Turner
    •  & Todd G. Deutsch
  • Article |

    Despite its role in electrocatalysis and hydrogen generation, a complete understanding of the hydrogen evolution reaction on platinum remains elusive. Here, a detailed kinetic study of hydrogen adsorption and evolution on Pt(111) highlights the role of interfacial water reorganization in the hydrogen adsorption step.

    • Isis Ledezma-Yanez
    • , W. David Z. Wallace
    • , Paula Sebastián-Pascual
    • , Victor Climent
    • , Juan M. Feliu
    •  & Marc T. M. Koper
  • Article |

    To tackle the high energy consumption of buildings, information programs to promote investment in energy efficiency measures have been introduced. This study compares the effectiveness of three US programs and finds that despite large energy savings, progress is lacking for small and medium sized buildings.

    • Omar Isaac Asensio
    •  & Magali A. Delmas
  • Article |

    Thin-film photovoltaic devices are often based on toxic or rare materials. Here, Wang et al. grow oriented Sb2Se3 thin film on a ZnO buffer layer, and fabricate solar cells with a certified 5.9% conversion efficiency and which pass harsh stability tests under humidity, heat and illumination.

    • Liang Wang
    • , Deng-Bing Li
    • , Kanghua Li
    • , Chao Chen
    • , Hui-Xiong Deng
    • , Liang Gao
    • , Yang Zhao
    • , Fan Jiang
    • , Luying Li
    • , Feng Huang
    • , Yisu He
    • , Haisheng Song
    • , Guangda Niu
    •  & Jiang Tang