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Jul 20, 2022

Volume 6Issue 7p1357-1726
On the cover: A specially designed Rail DAC car being developed by US-based CO2Rail Company removes excess carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air through direct air capture using the tremendous scale of the global rail network and is powered by the train’s substantial self-generated regenerative braking energy. Over time, such technology can reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations and help mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Credit: CO2Rail Company (Sumit Yadav)....
On the cover: A specially designed Rail DAC car being developed by US-based CO2Rail Company removes excess carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air through direct air capture using the tremendous scale of the global rail network and is powered by the train’s substantial self-generated regenerative braking energy. Over time, such technology can reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations and help mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Credit: CO2Rail Company (Sumit Yadav).


  • The energy system transformation needed to achieve the US long-term strategy

    • Russell Horowitz,
    • Matthew Binsted,
    • Morgan Browning,
    • Allen Fawcett,
    • Claire Henly,
    • Nathan Hultman,
    • James McFarland,
    • Haewon McJeon
    The United States returned to the international climate policy scene at COP26 by releasing its long-term strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. This strategy used integrated assessment modeling to quantify pathways to reach net zero. In this commentary, we describe the modeling that underlies the US long-term strategy, highlighting the lessons learned and emphasizing the value that collaborative scenario modeling can bring to developing robust long-term strategies around the world.
  • Battery calendar aging and machine learning

    • Eric J. Dufek,
    • Tanvir R. Tanim,
    • Bor-Rong Chen,
    • Sangwook Kim
    For successful deployment and consumer adoption, advanced batteries—including both high energy and those envisioned for long duration storage—must meet life and performance metrics with respect to both calendar and cycle life. Here, we present best practices and suggest opportunities for future studies related to calendar aging. Through some level of normalization of procedures and by capturing appropriate data, the use of machine learning and other advanced analysis techniques can be advanced for early life and failure mode prediction.

Future Energies

  • Rail-based direct air carbon capture

    • E. Bachman,
    • Alexandra Tavasoli,
    • T. Alan Hatton,
    • Christos T. Maravelias,
    • Erik Haites,
    • Peter Styring,
    • Alán Aspuru-Guzik,
    • Jeffrey MacIntosh,
    • Geoffrey Ozin
    Technology is presented that removes excess carbon dioxide from air using the global rail network, purpose-built rail equipment, and on-board, self-generated sustainable energy sources. Herein, we describe the potential to integrate direct air carbon capture (DAC) within the global railway system to take advantage of several synergies that can enable the successful, widespread deployment of DAC systems.
  • Self-powered sensing technologies for human Metaverse interfacing

    • Yihao Zhou,
    • Xiao Xiao,
    • Guorui Chen,
    • Xun Zhao,
    • Jun Chen
    Metaverse, an immersive virtual world and a successor of the internet, is projected to be energy intensive. In this Future Energy, we discuss how self-powered sensing technologies can be implemented in human Metaverse interface (HMI) devices from human motion monitoring to environment replicating, aiming at reducing energy consumption toward sustainable Metaverse. We envision self-powered sensing technologies to be a major platform of HMI and survey their achieved prototypes. Developments of self-powered sensing technologies and their seamless integration with Metaverse are provided.


  • Dehumidification with solid hygroscopic sorbents for low-carbon air conditioning

    • Primož Poredoš,
    • He Shan,
    • Ruzhu Wang
    Humidity’s impact on current and future greenhouse gas emissions associated with air conditioning has been shown in a recent issue of Joule. Here, we highlight challenges and opportunities in the utilization of advanced solid hygroscopic dehumidification materials for efficient cooling in next-generation air conditioning systems.
  • Vacuum thermal evaporation saved MA-free perovskite

    • Pengfei Wu,
    • Jun He,
    • Fei Zhang
    In an article in the June 15, 2022 issue of Joule article, Yi and co-workers reported a novel two-step deposition process, combining spin-coating of cesium/lead precursor firstly with lead chloride additive followed by single-source vacuum thermal evaporation of formamidinium iodide. They achieved a record-high efficiency of methylammonium-free perovskite solar cells surpassing 24% with exceptional stability.
  • Biofuels from biomass toward a net-zero carbon and sustainable world

    • Xinyi Tan,
    • Tianwei Tan
    Biofuels have attracted increasing attention due to their renewable sources. Two reports, one in Chem Catalysis by Schaidle and one in Metabolic Engineering by Pfleger, demonstrate that biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass can be produced by a multi-scale method for biocrude upgrading in catalytic fast pyrolysis and engineered microbes.
  • Microbially catalyzed bioelectrochemical power devices come of age

    • Deepak Pant,
    • Sunil A. Patil
    Microbial extracellular electron transfer-based processes are rapidly progressing toward real-world wastewater treatment applications, but their technological progress as an electric power source remains elusive. It is mainly due to low and unstable power density and high internal resistance of the bioelectrochemical systems. In a recent Energy & Environmental Science article, Bombelli and coworkers report a bio-photovoltaic energy harvester system using photosynthetic microorganisms at the Al anode that can power a widely used microprocessor Arm Cortex M0+ for 6 months without supporting energy devices.
  • Nanoscopic impurities trigger perovskite degradation

    • Mingwei Hao,
    • Yuanyuan Zhou
    Improving the stability of perovskite solar cells requires an in-depth fundamental clarification on degradation mechanisms. Recently in Nature, Macpherson et al. unleashed the power of multimodal characterizations to elucidate the role of nanoscopic impurities in perovskites, which are found to induce active ion-photocarrier coupling that triggers degradation.


  • Overcoming the disconnect between energy system and climate modeling

    • Michael T. Craig,
    • Jan Wohland,
    • Laurens P. Stoop,
    • Alexander Kies,
    • Bryn Pickering,
    • Hannah C. Bloomfield,
    • Jethro Browell,
    • Matteo De Felice,
    • Chris J. Dent,
    • Adrien Deroubaix,
    • Felix Frischmuth,
    • Paula L.M. Gonzalez,
    • Aleksander Grochowicz,
    • Katharina Gruber,
    • Philipp Härtel,
    • Martin Kittel,
    • Leander Kotzur,
    • Inga Labuhn,
    • Julie K. Lundquist,
    • Noah Pflugradt,
    • Karin van der Wiel,
    • Marianne Zeyringer,
    • David J. Brayshaw
    Disconnects between energy and climate modeling communities prevent the use of the full potential of climate expertise and information in energy system modeling. This perspective details those disconnects by describing the work of a member of each community and proposes near- and long-term interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary activities among the energy and climate modeling communities to overcome them. Proposed actions will require reframing and reconsidering methods and processes currently used to create and share data and knowledge between climate and energy modeling communities.
  • The promise of alloy anodes for solid-state batteries

    • John A. Lewis,
    • Kelsey A. Cavallaro,
    • Yuhgene Liu,
    • Matthew T. McDowell
    Solid-state batteries could enable higher energy density and improved safety, but high-capacity electrode materials are needed to achieve this potential. This perspective discusses the mechanistic advantages and energy benefits of using alloy anodes within solid-state batteries, and it motivates the research that is necessary to accelerate progress.
  • Bifacial perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells

    • Michele De Bastiani,
    • Anand S. Subbiah,
    • Maxime Babics,
    • Esma Ugur,
    • Lujia Xu,
    • Jiang Liu,
    • Thomas G. Allen,
    • Erkan Aydin,
    • Stefaan De Wolf
    Bifacial perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells are a promising technology for highly efficient utility-scale applications. Indeed, these cells couple the typical benefits of the tandem architecture (reduction of the thermalization losses) with the advantage of bifacial configuration (increment of the current output). Moreover, the bifacial configuration allows for perovskite formulation with less bromide content, reducing the mechanism of halide segregation while increasing the stability of the performances.


  • Perovskite solar cells for building integrated photovoltaics⁠—glazing applications

    • Jueming Bing,
    • Laura Granados Caro,
    • Harsh P. Talathi,
    • Nathan L. Chang,
    • David R. Mckenzie,
    • Anita W.Y. Ho-Baillie
    Enabling attributes of perovskite solar cells for solar window application are as follows: semi-transparency for lighting control, color options, excellent response to low-intensity and diffuse light, high performance, and low cost.
  • Self-powered sensing systems with learning capability

    • Avinash Alagumalai,
    • Wan Shou,
    • Omid Mahian,
    • Mortaza Aghbashlo,
    • Meisam Tabatabaei,
    • Somchai Wongwises,
    • Yong Liu,
    • Justin Zhan,
    • Antonio Torralba,
    • Jun Chen,
    • ZhongLin Wang,
    • Wojciech Matusik
    Self-powered intelligent systems represent the convergence of autonomous energy-harvesting technologies, sensors, and machine learning (ML) algorithms, which will revolutionize intelligent robots, digital health, and sustainable energy. This review summarizes the recent progress and challenges of such self-powered, ML-assisted sensing systems. Three fundamental principles of self-powering for sensors are systematically explored. We outline a road map for potential research needs presented in ML-enabled self-powered sensing systems.
  • Self-powered and self-sensing devices based on human motion

    • Zhihui Lai,
    • Junchen Xu,
    • Chris R. Bowen,
    • Shengxi Zhou
    Human-motion-based self-powered and self-sensing devices have widespread applications in modern society. Human motions can be classified into three categories based on how they act as excitation sources. Four commonly used electromechanical energy conversion mechanisms are introduced along with relevant materials. Human-motion-based energy harvesters are overviewed, discussed, and characterized, and their applications for self-powered and self-sensing devices are further reviewed. Key developments are summarized and discussed. The potential research directions and critical challenges are presented to highlight future opportunities.


  • Long-term implications of reduced gas imports on the decarbonization of the European energy system

    • Tim Tørnes Pedersen,
    • Ebbe Kyhl Gøtske,
    • Adam Dvorak,
    • Gorm Bruun Andresen,
    • Marta Victoria
    European reliance on natural gas as an energy source has to be reconsidered, as Europe wishes to reduce dependence on imports from Russia while currently consuming large shares of gas with Russian origin. Our study investigates the implications of reducing gas consumption in Europe and finds that by following ambitious climate goals, reliance on gas is naturally alleviated. Alternatively, gas consumption has to be replaced with increased coal consumption, extra installation of renewables, and replacement of gas boilers with heat-pumps.
  • Multilevel peel-off patterning of a prototype semitransparent organic photovoltaic module

    • Xinjing Huang,
    • Dejiu Fan,
    • Yongxi Li,
    • Stephen R. Forrest
    A polymer-based multilevel peel-off patterning scheme for large-scale features with micron-scale resolution is developed to realize the scalable production of organic electronic devices. The prototype organic photovoltaic modules demonstrated with the peel-off method achieve a geometric fill factor of 95.8% and minimal efficiency loss compared with analogous laboratory-scale devices.


  • Biosynthesis of polycyclopropanated high energy biofuels

    • Pablo Cruz-Morales,
    • Kevin Yin,
    • Alexander Landera,
    • John R. Cort,
    • Robert P. Young,
    • Jennifer E. Kyle,
    • Robert Bertrand,
    • Anthony T. Iavarone,
    • Suneil Acharya,
    • Aidan Cowan,
    • Yan Chen,
    • Jennifer W. Gin,
    • Corinne D. Scown,
    • Christopher J. Petzold,
    • Carolina Araujo-Barcelos,
    • Eric Sundstrom,
    • Anthe George,
    • Yuzhong Liu,
    • Sarah Klass,
    • Alberto A. Nava,
    • Jay D. Keasling
    Open Access
    We produced new energy-dense biofuels that can replace rocket and jet fuels. The biosynthesis of the fuel precursor, a fatty acid, is directed by an iterative polyketide synthase (iPKS) that was discovered using phylogenomic methods. Production of the fatty acids was achieved after introduction of the iPKS in a Streptomyces host. The fuels were then obtained by esterification of the fatty acids. The energy density of the molecules was calculated and resulted higher than those of current fuels used in the aerospace sector.
  • A solar tower fuel plant for the thermochemical production of kerosene from H2O and CO2

    • Stefan Zoller,
    • Erik Koepf,
    • Dustin Nizamian,
    • Marco Stephan,
    • Adriano Patané,
    • Philipp Haueter,
    • Manuel Romero,
    • José González-Aguilar,
    • Dick Lieftink,
    • Ellart de Wit,
    • Stefan Brendelberger,
    • Andreas Sizmann,
    • Aldo Steinfeld
    Open Access
    For the first time, the thermochemical production of kerosene using solar energy, water, and CO2 is demonstrated in a fully integrated solar tower fuel plant. Solar-made kerosene can replace fossil-derived kerosene and further make use of the existing global jet fuel infrastructures and engines, which are particularly critical for the long-haul aviation sector. This pioneer technological demonstration, performed at a pilot scale relevant to industrial implementation, represents a critical milestone on the path toward the production of sustainable aviation fuels.
  • A high-voltage and stable zinc-air battery enabled by dual-hydrophobic-induced proton shuttle shielding

    • Yang-feng Cui,
    • Yun-hai Zhu,
    • Jia-yi Du,
    • Yong-lai Zhang,
    • Kai Li,
    • Wan-qiang Liu,
    • Gang Huang,
    • Xin-bo Zhang
    The long-standing challenges to the practical implementation of rechargeable zinc-air batteries (ZABs) are the electrochemical irreversibility of zinc (Zn) anode (passivation/corrosion) and degradation of the air cathodes (clogged carbonation) in alkaline electrolyte, which eventually results in poor cycle life and low cell voltage. To overcome these open problems, a hybrid ZAB has been achieved by decoupling the highly reversible neutral Zn anode and high-voltage/carbonate-free acidic air cathode via a dual-hydrophobic-induced proton-shuttle-shielding and hydrophobic TFSI-conducting membrane.
  • Tailoring solvent-mediated ligand exchange for CsPbI3 perovskite quantum dot solar cells with efficiency exceeding 16.5%

    • Donglin Jia,
    • Jingxuan Chen,
    • Junming Qiu,
    • Huili Ma,
    • Mei Yu,
    • Jianhua Liu,
    • Xiaoliang Zhang
    Regulating the surface ligand chemistry of perovskite quantum dots (PQDs) is of great importance for the construction of high-performing PQD solar cells (PQDSCs). Herein, the solvent of short ligands is tailored for the post-treatment of PQD solid films to maximize the removal of pristine long-chain insulating ligands from the PQD surface and then effectively passivate PQD surface. Consequently, the PQDSC delivers an efficiency of up to 16.53%, which is the highest among inorganic PQDSCs.
  • Design principles for zero-strain Li-ion cathodes

    • Xinye Zhao,
    • Yaosen Tian,
    • Zhengyan Lun,
    • Zijian Cai,
    • Tina Chen,
    • Bin Ouyang,
    • Gerbrand Ceder
    The development of safe and scalable solid-state batteries has been hindered by the large volume change during the electrochemical cycling of cathode materials, which causes complex chemo-mechanical degradation at the electrode-electrolyte interface. Combining theory and experiment, we have established chemical composition, ionic ordering, and metal coordination as three major factors that influence the volume change in cathode structures. Guided by these insights, we synthesized disordered rocksalt cathodes that undergo quasi-zero volume change upon cycling.
  • Surface engineering with oxidized Ti3C2Tx MXene enables efficient and stable p-i-n-structured CsPbI3 perovskite solar cells

    • Jin Hyuck Heo,
    • Fei Zhang,
    • Jin Kyoung Park,
    • Hyong Joon Lee,
    • David Sunghwan Lee,
    • Su Jeong Heo,
    • Joseph M. Luther,
    • Joseph J. Berry,
    • Kai Zhu,
    • Sang Hyuk Im
    Surface engineering of the CsPbI3 perovskite layer with oxidized MXene (OMXene) nanoplates via orthogonal spray coatings is reported. The OMXene surface treatment provides a physical barrier against moisture for the CsPbI3 perovskite layer and also improves charge separation from an enhanced electric field at the perovskite/electron transporting layer interface. With this approach, we obtained power conversion efficiencies of 19.69% for a 0.096-cm2 cell and 14.64% for a 25-cm2 minimodule with good stability under high humidity, temperature, and illumination.
  • Tailoring electric dipole of hole-transporting material p-dopants for perovskite solar cells

    • Jianxing Xia,
    • Yi Zhang,
    • Chuanxiao Xiao,
    • Keith Gregory Brooks,
    • Min Chen,
    • Junsheng Luo,
    • Hua Yang,
    • Nadja Isabelle Desiree Klipfel,
    • Jihua Zou,
    • Yu Shi,
    • Xiaojun Yao,
    • Jiangzhao Chen,
    • Joseph M. Luther,
    • Hongzhen Lin,
    • Abdullah M. Asiri,
    • Chunyang Jia,
    • Mohammad Khaja Nazeeruddin
    An interfacial dipole-oriented organic salt dopant was demonstrated as an alternative to the Li-TFSI/t-BP and applied to the small devices and large-area module (6.5 × 7 cm2; aperture area is 33.2 cm2), achieving high power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 22.86% and 19.13%, respectively. Additionally, it performed with significantly improved long-term stability up to 1,200 h.
  • Embodied energy and carbon from the manufacture of cadmium telluride and silicon photovoltaics

    • Hope M. Wikoff,
    • Samantha B. Reese,
    • Matthew O. Reese
    The embodied energy and embodied carbon of Si and CdTe PV are compared and contextualized relative to the world’s estimated remaining carbon budget—in the highest carbon-intensity scenario, module manufacturing could consume 2%–14% of the remaining budget. Drivers, including manufacturing location, technology type, and technology advances, are considered. Changing present-day manufacturing locations can vary carbon intensity ∼2×. A thin-film PV is ∼2× less carbon-intensive than Si, with the majority of the thin-film embodied carbon stemming from its glass package and aluminum frame.