A gem of a new energy journal – Joule

A gem of a new energy journal – Joule

At the end of February, Cell Press, an imprint of Elsevier, launched their newest journal – Joule. Joule is the second Cell Press journal with an emphasis on the physical sciences (Chem launched in July 2016) and their first with a specific focus on energy research. Editor-in-Chief, Philip Earis, describes Joule as a “distinctive and forward-looking journal, bridging disciplines and scales of energy research.” His vision for Joule is to provide a publication home for all areas of sustainable energy research, including: scientific, technical, economic, policy, and social. SOFI agrees that in order to realize more sustainable energy solutions, it is essential to have cross-disciplinary collaborations, and we are thrilled that Joule and other new energy journals are making it easier for these academic communities to come together. Joule is looking to publish research spanning every field related to sustainable energy. From batteries, biofuels, carbon capture, and energy security to solar energy, techno-economic analysis, life-cycle assessment, transportation fuels, and wave energy, Joule is looking to cover it all – and how it is all related. Joule will be granting free access for its first 6 months, commencing with its first issue due out Fall 2017. As with other Cell Press journals, Joule publications will resume free access one year after publication. Additionally, Joule is placing an emphasis on the aspect of “scale” in energy research. As Philip Earis mentioned in an interview on CrossTalk, the Cell Press blog, “…every Joule research article will be accompanied by a “Context & Scale” box that summarizes how the article fits into the bigger picture of energy research and highlights the challenges and...
2nd International Solar Fuels Conference (ISF-2)

2nd International Solar Fuels Conference (ISF-2)

July 6th 2017, at the University of San Diego, the 2nd International Solar Fuels Conference will commence. The next 4 days will be filled with presentations and demonstrations of cutting-edge work by professors, researchers, and industrial specialists from across the US and around the world. Attendees are experts in their fields and they represent the many disciplines relating to solar fuels research. Presentations and discussions will cover a range of topics from biological approaches to more purely chemical pathways to technoeconomic analysis of current market positions, there will be something for everyone at ISF-2. This intense 5-day event is an excellent opportunity for those in the solar fuels field to connect with peers, develop collaborative research projects, and discuss results with other like-minded individuals. Prior to the commencement of ISF-2 a satellite meeting directed at early career researchers will also be held at UCSD – ISF-2 Young. This conference is a unique opportunity for early career scientists to present research to their peers and engage each other more directly. The informal gathering sessions, a staple of the ISF-Young conference series, enable attendees to network and initiate collaborative discussions with peers from other disciplines and around the world. The abstract submission deadline, for both conferences, is March 31st, 2017. Early bird registration is available until March 31st, as well. Conferences like ISF-2 and ISF-2 Young are great opportunities to build connections and commence collaborations. SOFI is honored to sponsor both of these events and we look forward to seeing you in San Diego this...
Phase 1: Complete

Phase 1: Complete

Back in February 2016 we announced the commencement of the building phase of the SOFI Demonstration Project. Our plan designated four phases of development: Phase 1: CO2 to Methanol conversion Phase 2: H2 generation from water splitting Phase 3: Renewable energy incorporation Phase 4: CO2 capture This past April Alex Grant, a graduate student in the Notestein research group at Northwestern University, began working on Phase 1 of the SOFI Demo Project – the CO2 to Methanol reactor. After 6 months of building, coding, and tweaking – the first drops of methanol dripped from the reactor’s condenser. While not fully optimized, on November 7th 2016 the ultimate goal of Phase 1 was achieved. Lucky for us, Alex kept working. Some small adjustments pushed production to around 1 drop every 4 minutes. While a detailed discussion of the results and conclusions are still forthcoming, we can tell you a little bit about the system. SOFI’s commitment to modular design is maintained in the reactor design. Different catalysts can easily be incorporated. Pressures from 1-50 bar and temperatures up to 500 °C accommodate many catalysts. Stay tuned to SOFI’s blog and social media for more updates on the SOFI Demonstration...
SOFI: 2016 in Review

SOFI: 2016 in Review

Near the start of 2016, we opened the SOFI Knowledge Map to contributions from the solar fuels community. The response has been great. We are producing more “how to” videos, so look for those in 2017! If you have authored a paper and are looking for a way to reference your results easily in a presentation, add the numbers from your papers to the SOFI Knowledge Map and then mention the website in your talk. People can easily access your paper’s results and bookmark it for later use! In 2017, you will be able to add a logo to your presentation to indicate your work is in the Knowledge Map. We are looking forward launching this feature in early 2017, stay tuned. We announced in April that we were starting Phase 1 of the SOFI Demonstration project. In early November Alex Grant, a graduate student in the Notestein Lab at Northwestern, successfully produced methanol from CO2 and H2. We are working on summarizing all of the technical details, so stay tuned to the SOFI Blog for details. This success was hard won and the result of thinking critically about each step in the process and the limitations of each piece in this puzzle. Next, we are hoping to move to on-demand H2 as part of Phase 2. We welcome ideas, collaborators, and partners in this effort! August 2016 saw SOFI’s first entrepreneurship workshop. We brought together 4 early career researchers (from the US, UK, and France), two entrepreneurs, and a selection of representative from various sectors covering policy, patent law, and consulting. This two-day intensive workshop focused on the...
Collaboration is Key

Collaboration is Key

Last week Prof Hammarström published a Perspective in Chem, on the important roles of catalysis and solar fuels in meeting our future energy needs. One of our favorite quotes from Prof Hammarström’s piece is: “The challenges and opportunities for solar fuels are great, and we need a long-term and cross-disciplinary commitment of research and development to make this a reality.” As a member and leader of the Swedish Consortium for Artificial Photosynthesis (CAP), Prof Hammarström knows very well the importance and benefits of cross-disciplinary research. Research done within the Swedish Consortium covers nearly all aspects of artificial photosynthesis. From studying photosynthesis itself to mutating photosynthetic organisms to synthesizing and probing systems inspired by nature, no avenue is left unexplored in CAP. Additionally, CAP consists of biologist, biophysicist, molecular biologist, microbial chemists, synthetic chemists, computational chemists, and chemical physicists. Much of the scientific community considers consortia like CAP to be the epitome of a cross-disciplinary organization. A follow-up to Prof Hammarström’s publication, from Georgia State University and Northwestern University, further states that to make solar fuels a commercial reality scientists will need to look beyond the physical and biological sciences and involve social scientists in their cross-disciplinary efforts to ensure technological developments receive favorable support from the public and policymakers. “Without public support, solar energy technologies are unlikely to succeed in the political and economic marketplace.” Public opinion indeed plays a significant role in a technology’s market success and the policies surrounding it. The authors, based on research data, point out clearly that “solar” is becoming more widespread and acceptable. This is great news for wider adoption and favorable policies...