Transformative ways to increase efficiency, sustainability, and diversity in energy production, conversion and storage are needed to meet growing demand in energy and to reduce our society’s carbon footprint. Catalytic materials will play a key role here by facilitating desirable chemical transformations. Bringing the materials science perspective into catalyst discovery provides many opportunities in synthesis, characterization, and use of novel materials in energy applications. However, many of the current applications rely heavily on the use of precious metals, an approach which cannot be sustainable in long terms. Also, novel applications as the catalytic conversion of biomass in aqueous media require new, perhaps non-oxide, hydrothermally stable catalyst supports. To make a sizable contribution to addressing the society’s energy related issues, materials strategies to reduce the cost by employing more abundant elements as well as improved stability without sacrificing the performance typically realized with precious metal-based catalysts are highly desirable. Energy and materials cost efficient conversion of natural gas could significantly contribute to the production of synthetic fuels and a broad spectrum of chemicals in the foreseeable future. A highly efficient artificial photosynthesis of fuels via water splitting and CO2 reduction are the hallmarks of clean energy, but significant challenges remain to achieve acceptable solar-energy conversion efficiency. All these applications, from catalysis to electro- to photocatalysis to storage in batteries have one common: design and development of new classes of materials. Advances in materials synthesis, atomic level characterization and theoretical/computational methods (and interconnecting these components) are poised to accelerate the discovery of novel materials for use as catalysts in energy applications.
This symposium is aimed at bringing together researchers in materials science, synthesis, heterogeneous catalysis, electrocatalysis, and photocatalysis to highlight recent progresses and discuss challenges and opportunities in the materials aspect of catalysis research for energy applications.