Volume 5 Issue 6, June 2020

Volume 5 Issue 6

Life supports hydrogen

Photosynthetic and catalytic machineries from living cells can be coupled to produce hydrogen outside the cell using solar energy, though the production is short-lived. Now, Appel et al. rewire cyanobacteria to fuse these machineries in the cell, allowing the cell’s maintenance and replication mechanisms to support lasting hydrogen production.

See Appel et al. and News and Views by Lenz

Image: Jolanda Zürcher Cover Design: Thomas Phillips

Comment & Opinion

  • Comment |

    Energy plays a central role in responding to emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, from ensuring adequate healthcare services to supporting households during lockdowns. Protecting the renewable energy industry and its contribution to providing sustainable energy access for all must be an urgent priority in the current crisis.

    • Vanesa Castán Broto
    •  & Joshua Kirshner

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Li4Ti5O12 is a commonly used negative electrode material, but the origin of its fast rate capability has puzzled scientists for decades. Now, a facile Li-ion transport route featuring metastable intermediates is revealed to rationalize the fast-charging kinetics.

    • Swapna Ganapathy
    •  & Marnix Wagemaker
  • News & Views |

    Light-driven production of hydrogen by coupling natural photosystems or photosensitizers with hydrogen-producing catalysts has been achieved in numerous in vitro systems. Now, a recombinant in vivo system is described that generates hydrogen using a hydrogenase enzyme directly coupled to a cyanobacterial photosystem.

    • Oliver Lenz
  • News & Views |

    Dye-sensitized solar cells are promising as power-generating solar windows yet their fixed transparency prevents control of indoor lighting and temperature. Researchers now present a device that dynamically self-adjusts its optical transmittance with sunlight intensity, opening up a way to energy-efficient self-powered building façades.

    • Ana Flavia Nogueira

Policy Brief

  • Policy Brief |

    While the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has been instrumental in increasing India’s liquefied petroleum gas adoption, sustained use depends on factors such as regularity of income and ease of access to free-of-cost biomass. To ensure sustained use after adoption, interventions in clean cooking energy must tie in with broader rural development.

    • Sunil Mani
    • , Abhishek Jain
    • , Saurabh Tripathi
    •  & Carlos F. Gould


  • Review Article |

    Despite its prevalence, energy poverty is not formally recognized in the US as a problem distinct from general poverty. This Review of two federally-funded programs focused on reducing high energy bills highlights the limitations of this approach for effectively responding to energy poverty.

    • Dominic J. Bednar
    •  & Tony G. Reames


  • Article |

    Low energy density and limited cyclability are preventing the commercialization of aqueous Zn–MnO2 batteries. Here, the authors combine the merits of operating Zn anodes in alkaline conditions and MnO2 cathodes in acidic conditions, via an electrolyte-decoupling strategy, to realize high-performance batteries.

    • Cheng Zhong
    • , Bin Liu
    • , Jia Ding
    • , Xiaorui Liu
    • , Yuwei Zhong
    • , Yuan Li
    • , Changbin Sun
    • , Xiaopeng Han
    • , Yida Deng
    • , Naiqin Zhao
    •  & Wenbin Hu
  • Article |

    It is not clear what factors drive sustained use of clean cooking fuels after adoption in places such as India and China. With India achieving a liquified petroleum gas penetration of 95%, Mani et al. use longitudinal data from a survey of more than 8,000 rural households to identify the reasons for the uptake and sustained use of the clean fuel.

    • Sunil Mani
    • , Abhishek Jain
    • , Saurabh Tripathi
    •  & Carlos F. Gould
  • Article |

    Using photosynthetic microorganisms may be a route to sustainable hydrogen production from solar energy, but hydrogen generation is typically short lived. Here the authors address this challenge by engineering cyanobacteria to construct photosystem I–hydrogenase fusions that produce hydrogen in vivo.

    • Jens Appel
    • , Vanessa Hueren
    • , Marko Boehm
    •  & Kirstin Gutekunst
  • Article |

    Building-integrated installation of semi-transparent solar cells is limited by a trade-off between transparency and efficiency. Now, Huaulmé et al. demonstrate dye-sensitized solar cells with photochromic sensitizers that adjust their light transmission and power conversion efficiency with light exposure.

    • Quentin Huaulmé
    • , Valid M. Mwalukuku
    • , Damien Joly
    • , Johan Liotier
    • , Yann Kervella
    • , Pascale Maldivi
    • , Stéphanie Narbey
    • , Frédéric Oswald
    • , Antonio J. Riquelme
    • , Juan Antonio Anta
    •  & Renaud Demadrille
  • Article |

    The electroreduction of CO2 to ethanol could enable the clean production of fuels using renewable power. This study shows how confinement effects from nitrogen-doped carbon layers on copper catalysts enable selective ethanol production from CO2 with a Faradaic efficiency of up to 52%.

    • Xue Wang
    • , Ziyun Wang
    • , F. Pelayo García de Arquer
    • , Cao-Thang Dinh
    • , Adnan Ozden
    • , Yuguang C. Li
    • , Dae-Hyun Nam
    • , Jun Li
    • , Yi-Sheng Liu
    • , Joshua Wicks
    • , Zitao Chen
    • , Miaofang Chi
    • , Bin Chen
    • , Ying Wang
    • , Jason Tam
    • , Jane Y. Howe
    • , Andrew Proppe
    • , Petar Todorović
    • , Fengwang Li
    • , Tao-Tao Zhuang
    • , Christine M. Gabardo
    • , Ahmad R. Kirmani
    • , Christopher McCallum
    • , Sung-Fu Hung
    • , Yanwei Lum
    • , Mingchuan Luo
    • , Yimeng Min
    • , Aoni Xu
    • , Colin P. O’Brien
    • , Bello Stephen
    • , Bin Sun
    • , Alexander H. Ip
    • , Lee J. Richter
    • , Shana O. Kelley
    • , David Sinton
    •  & Edward H. Sargent