University of Bath
Energy Challenge & Green Technology.
A major challenge in the 21st century is the supply of cleaner, sustainable energy to deal with the environmental threat of global warming and climate change.
About 30% of CO2 emissions arise from transport. Addressing this problem requires the electrification of road transport, as outlined by the UK government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change 2050 Pathways report. A major barrier is the storage of electrical energy and requires more efficient, safer and cheaper batteries.
The performance of energy storage devices is crucially dependent on their component materials. Indeed, materials chemistry lies at the centre of advances that have already been made in this field, an excellent example being the rechargeable lithium battery, which has helped power the revolution in portable electronics.
In the future, new generations of lithium batteries are needed for hybrid or electric vehicles, and for grid storage of solar and wind energy. The discovery and optimisation of materials are critical to major breakthroughs. This depends on exploring new classes of compounds and a better understanding of the fundamental science of solid materials.
As a Royal Society of Chemistry poster says: ‘Not all chemists wear white lab coats!’ Our research uses supercomputers to build structural models to help understand materials on the atomic- and nano-scale, which can link up and guide experimental work. In this way, modelling tools allow us to peer into complex materials acting like virtual microscopes. My research group are working on a range of lithium battery materials for electric vehicles; these include iron-silicates that offer the tantalising prospect of cheap and sustainable electrodes from rust and sand!
The ultimate goal is to benefit society by reducing our CO2 emissions from road transport and contribute towards a lower carbon future.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)