Volume 4 Issue 1, January 2019

Volume 4 Issue 1

Shower power

Knowing the energy being used during an energy-intensive activity may encourage behaviour that reduces consumption. Tiefenbeck et al. now show that randomly chosen hotel guests in rooms where a smart shower meter provided real-time feedback on energy and water consumption used 11.4% less energy while showering, demonstrating the effectiveness of this easy-to-implement, scalable conservation intervention.

See Tiefenbeck et al.

Image: Sophie Adams, Cardiff, UK/Moment/Getty. Cover Design: Lauren Heslop.


  • Editorial |

    This year marks ten years of organic–inorganic perovskite solar cell research. Now, after achieving remarkable gains in performance, applications are starting to make their way out of research laboratories into the real world.

Comment & Opinion

  • Comment |

    Energy poverty in the European Union poses a distinct challenge across member states and requires tailored, targeted action. EU policymakers need to strengthen the response to energy poverty and engender action across member states, moving beyond the focus on vulnerable consumers in energy markets.

    • Audrey Dobbins
    • , Francesco Fuso Nerini
    • , Paul Deane
    •  & Steve Pye

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Aluminium−graphite batteries can reversibly store AlCl4 ions at their cathodes, but the large consumption of electrolytes reduces their specific energy. Here a cathode based on redox-active triangular organic molecules is shown to be able to take up AlCl2+, offering hope towards complete Al-ion storage.

    • Yanliang Liang
    •  & Yan Yao
  • News & Views |

    Efficient conversion of low-grade heat into useful power is a challenge. A new approach using magnetocaloric materials and a pretzel-like magnetic field topology offers a simple way of generating electrical power from heat with improved efficiency.

    • A. M. Rowe
  • News & Views |

    Multilateral development banks, such as the World Bank, have been encouraging countries to invest more in green-energy technologies. Analysis of project data suggests their own renewable energy portfolios have also grown in step.

    • Jamal Saghir


  • Review Article |

    Separators are an essential part of current lithium-ion batteries. Vanessa Wood and co-workers review the properties of separators, discuss their relationship with battery performance and survey the techniques for characterizing separators.

    • Marie Francine Lagadec
    • , Raphael Zahn
    •  & Vanessa Wood


  • Article |

    Wakes from upwind wind farms can reduce energy generation at downwind farms. Here, using power production data and atmospheric simulations, researchers quantify the economic impacts of wakes, explain the physics of wake variability and highlight that no legal framework exists to protect downwind farms.

    • J. K. Lundquist
    • , K. K. DuVivier
    • , D. Kaffine
    •  & J. M. Tomaszewski
  • Article |

    A natural field experiment found that real-time feedback on energy consumption while showering led to an 11.4% reduction in energy use in a random sample of hotel guests, demonstrating the potential for activity-specific feedback as a cost-effective and scalable conservation strategy.

    • Verena Tiefenbeck
    • , Anselma Wörner
    • , Samuel Schöb
    • , Elgar Fleisch
    •  & Thorsten Staake
  • Article |

    Large variations exist in the revenue prediction of grid-scale storage due to uncertainties in operations of storage technologies. Here the authors integrate the economic evaluation of energy storage with key battery parameters for a realistic measure of revenues.

    • D. M. Davies
    • , M. G. Verde
    • , O. Mnyshenko
    • , Y. R. Chen
    • , R. Rajeev
    • , Y. S. Meng
    •  & G. Elliott
  • Article |

    The development of aluminium batteries relies heavily on the discovery of cathode materials that can reversibly insert Al-containing ions. Here the authors show that phenanthrenequinone-based compounds can take up the cationic aluminium complex, leading to promising aluminium batteries.

    • Dong Jun Kim
    • , Dong-Joo Yoo
    • , Michael T. Otley
    • , Aleksandrs Prokofjevs
    • , Cristian Pezzato
    • , Magdalena Owczarek
    • , Seung Jong Lee
    • , Jang Wook Choi
    •  & J. Fraser Stoddart
  • Article |

    The oxygen reduction reaction, catalysed by platinum, is a crucial process in the operation of fuel cells, but the mechanistic pathways through which it occurs remain a matter for debate. Here, the authors use in situ Raman spectroscopy to identify key intermediates for this reaction at different atomically flat platinum surfaces, shedding light on the mechanism.

    • Jin-Chao Dong
    • , Xia-Guang Zhang
    • , Valentín Briega-Martos
    • , Xi Jin
    • , Ji Yang
    • , Shu Chen
    • , Zhi-Lin Yang
    • , De-Yin Wu
    • , Juan Miguel Feliu
    • , Christopher T. Williams
    • , Zhong-Qun Tian
    •  & Jian-Feng Li
  • Article |

    Thermomagnetic generators exploit magnetic flux and temperature differences across magnetocaloric materials to generate electricity from waste heat. Waske et al. present a device based on a pretzel-like magnetic-field topology that leads to a higher power output than previous, simpler, topologies.

    • Anja Waske
    • , Daniel Dzekan
    • , Kai Sellschopp
    • , Dietmar Berger
    • , Alexander Stork
    • , Kornelius Nielsch
    •  & Sebastian Fähler
  • Analysis |

    Multilateral development banks are known to finance a significant number of new power plants in low-income countries, and have been pushing for more renewables. Here, researchers build a bottom-up dataset of more than 800 projects from 10 banks to quantify the extent to which these banks have greened their portfolios.

    • Bjarne Steffen
    •  & Tobias S. Schmidt

Amendments & Corrections