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Volume 6 Issue 8, August 2021

Algorithms for all

Neighbourhood-scale batteries can help regulate supply and demand in renewable-heavy electricity systems, but their control algorithms tend to focus on techno-economic needs. A new interdisciplinary study shows how incorporating stakeholder perceptions into algorithm design can lead to diverse outcomes in the allocation of benefit and risk from the battery.

See Ransan-Cooper et al.

Image:fStop Images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo. Cover Design: Thomas Phillips.


  • We must do more to encourage and support interdisciplinary research approaches to energy challenges.



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Comment & Opinion

  • Established climate mitigation scenarios assume continued economic growth in all countries, and reconcile this with the Paris targets by betting on speculative technological change. Post-growth approaches may make it easier to achieve rapid mitigation while improving social outcomes, and should be explored by climate modellers.

    • Jason Hickel
    • Paul Brockway
    • Diana Ürge-Vorsatz
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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • Access to modern energy sources is essential for sustainable development and human well-being. However, a recent study uses a bottom-up model to show how lack of access persists until 2050 under different socioeconomic pathways and decarbonization scenarios.

    • Jon Sampedro
    News & Views
  • Voltage losses limit the performance of organic solar cells, yet their origins are not fully understood. Now, a theoretical model encompassing electronic state hybridization and thermal population of vibrational states explains the reduced non-radiative voltage losses in efficient non-fullerene acceptor systems.

    • Natalie Banerji
    News & Views
  • Algorithms determine the effectiveness of battery storage, but have so far been designed for narrow techno-economic objectives with simplified assumptions of user needs. New research considers citizen preferences and develops six battery algorithms that support local economic benefits, decarbonization and explainability.

    • Christine Milchram
    News & Views
  • Anion-exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFCs) potentially allow the use of cheap catalysts due to their alkaline environment, yet often large amounts of precious metals are employed. Now, a non-precious metal-based catalyst, specifically designed for alkaline media, is demonstrated in the cathode of a high-performing AEMFC.

    • Sungjun Kim
    • Yung-Eun Sung
    News & Views
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  • 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
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  • Organic solar cells based on non-fullerene acceptors have enabled high efficiencies yet their charge dynamics and its impact on the photovoltaic parameters are not fully understood. Now, Chen et al. provide a general description of non-radiative voltage losses in both fullerene and non-fullerene solar cells.

    • Xian-Kai Chen
    • Deping Qian
    • Feng Gao
  • Light-driven catalytic conversion of CO2 to fuels and chemicals presents a way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, but new strategies are needed to improve performance. Here the authors find that greenhouse effects can be exploited in photothermal catalysts to enhance their ability to produce methane and carbon monoxide.

    • Mujin Cai
    • Zhiyi Wu
    • Xiaohong Zhang
  • Algorithms are critical to modern energy systems but their design often overlooks the perspective of key stakeholders. Through an interdisciplinary process, Ransan-Cooper et al. design different algorithms to control neighbourhood-scale batteries that highlight variations in allocation of risk and benefit.

    • Hedda Ransan-Cooper
    • Björn C. P. Sturmberg
    • Lachlan Blackhall
  • Highly active oxygen reduction catalysts that are free of platinum group metals would decrease the cost of fuel cells. Here, the authors report on a commercial Fe–N–C-based catalyst that can replace platinum group metal-based catalysts in the cathodes of anion-exchange membrane fuel cells without a severe loss of performance.

    • Horie Adabi
    • Abolfazl Shakouri
    • William E. Mustain
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Tales of Invention

  • Polyanion oxide cathodes offer better thermal stability and safety than transition-metal oxide cathodes, and their cell voltages are also higher than those of the oxide analogues with the same redox couple. Lithium iron phosphate is the first commercialized polyanion cathode for lithium-ion batteries.

    • Arumugam Manthiram
    • John B. Goodenough
    Tales of Invention
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Amendments & Corrections

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