Efficient and inexpensive storage of electrical energy is paramount to renewable energy technologies because unlike other common energy storage in prior use such as gasoline or coal, electricity must be used as it is being generated.
Many renewable energy sources including solar and wind produce intermittent power and require energy storage. Enormous progress has been made in the last decade in battery technology largely driven by the consumer electronics. Advanced battery technology often employs nanostructured and hybrid materials for increased charge/discharge cycle numbers and longer lifetime and increased capacity.
The materials development for optimized battery electrodes requires the ability to study the chemical processes during charging and discharging under in-operando conditions to understand operation and failure mechanisms and to design improved battery electrodes on a knowledge base.
The switch to hydrogen fuel requires efficient and inexpensive storage of hydrogen. Many hydrogen storage media exists such as metal hydrides, carbohydrates, graphene, carbon nanotubes and many more, but most have drawbacks such as being too heavy, too expensive, not efficient at the right temperature, have low cycle numbers.
Novel and promising hydrogen storage media based on nanoparticle and hybrid systems require advanced synthesis methods (for example microwave-assisted colloidal chemistry) and analytics to study in-operando processes occurring during the hydrogen load and release processes at buried interfaces.