Book Review: Nanotechnology for the Energy Challenge

by | Sep 7, 2010

Professor Sanjay Mathur of the University of Cologne reviews Nanotechnology for the Energy Challenge, a new text covering areas of energy research where nanomaterials could make a big difference.

Reviewed by Professor Sanjay Mathur, University of Cologne.

Nanomaterials for energy research represents an emerging forefront of materials science and engineering at different length scales, which calls for a book with specific emphasis on the application of nanotechnology in producing energy, the integration of nanomaterials in devices for energy storage and development of innovative and environmentally proactive approaches for energy sustainability. Nanotechnology heralds the technological innovation desired to meet the major challenges of the energy sector namely the improvement of effciency in energy harvesting, storage, sustainability and most importantly significant cost reduction all along the energy value chain. In this context, the research and application of nanomaterials capable of contributing to the energy challenge will be of utmost significance as described in this book.

This challenge of providing in-depth analysis of the state-of-the-art developments has been successfully addressed in this book “Nanotechnology for the Energy Challenge” edited by J. Garcia-Martinez. The book features 15 peer-reviewed chapters, which have been appropriately assembled and illustrated in three sections focusing on energy production, storage and sustainability to provide the continuity of thoughts and to elaborate the links between materials development, efficient devices and a sustainable impact interesting for both experienced and new readers. The timely and focused nature of the chapters makes this book an attractive source for advanced graduate students in materials science and engineering as well as experienced researchers looking for strategic orientation.

Part I (Chapters 1-5) presents an overview (Chapter 1) on the application of nanomaterials in the energy production sector that is supported by comprehensive accounts on dye-sensitized solar cells (Chapter 2), and applications of nanostructured materials for thermoelectric energy conversion, fuel cells and solar hydrogen through photo-electrochemical splitting of water (Chapters 3-5). Each chapter gives the essential concepts of the techniques and methodology supported by adequate number of references.

Chapters collected in the part II review and analyze the new opportunities and existing bottle-necks in the realization of alternative energy technologies such as solid-state storage of hydrogen for a carbon-free emission cycle (Chapter 6), and electrochemical storage devices like supercapacitors and Li-ion batteries (Chapters 7 & 8). Chapter 9 highlights new opportunities emerging in the field of superconductors by integrating the concepts of nanotechnology to improve the cost/performance ratio.

Part III of the book represents the “icing on the cake” with the focus on sustainable energy production and unconventional/green approaches for materials processing. Chapter 10 by Whitesides et al challenges the reader and draw attention, by way of doing a retrospective analysis, towards the energy costs, of nanofabrication procedures, which are generally masked by the excitement of the enhanced performance and the morphological features of the nanomaterials. Efficient fuel production by nanoscaled catalysts remains an area of extensive research activity and now encompasses the domain of biofuels as described in Chapters 11 and 12, which point out the necessity of environmental concerns and the inevitable need to develop new and more efficient catalysts to handle biologically derived (energy) feedstocks. The energy challenge can also be addressed by sustainable energy reduction in the built environment for instance by innovative concepts for CO2 capture (Chapter 13), organic light emitting devices and electrochromic materials (Chapters 14 & 15).

In summary, this book brings under a single cover the major aspects of nanomaterials research for the energy sector and will have a profound impact on the research and development of nanomaterials for sustainable energy solutions. It is highly recommended for chemists, physicists, material scientists and engineers looking for an insight into the global energy challenge and the possible contribution nanotechnology can make.

Nanotechnology for the Energy Challenge
Edited by Javier Garcia-Martinez
WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

Sanjay Mathur currently holds the Chair of Inorganic and Materials Chemistry at the University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany. His research interests focus on various facets of chemical nanotechnologies with thrust on molecular routes to functional nanostructures for diversified applications ranging from biocompatible materials, nanotoxicology studies, engineered surfaces and new materials and devices for energy applications.

Professor Sanjay Mathur of the University of Cologne

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