The growing evidence for, and acceptance of, the role of anthropogenic CO2 in contributing to potentially dangerous climate change clearly provides a powerful incentive for the development of decarbonized forms of energy generation and storage; indeed, the development of energy technologies that are independent of fossil fuels is widely accepted as being of the highest priority. However, the viability of such technologies is, in many cases, crucially dependent on the fundamental properties of the materials employed, with breakthroughs in materials science being essential for the successful deployment of new technology. These considerations provided the stimulus for the Royal Society Discussion Meeting on which this issue is based. The meeting aimed to survey the present state-of-the-art in materials chemistry, physics and engineering underlying contemporary non-carbon-based energy technologies, and more importantly to identify those areas where fundamental developments in materials science are needed. The meeting considered the challenges posed by nuclear technologies (both fission and fusion), solar energy conversion, battery and fuel-cell technologies and hydrogen storage and generation; but in addition to the scientific and technological needs, societal and economic issues were also debated. We hope that this issue helps to capture the excitement of the meeting and also to illustrate the crucial role that fundamental research in materials science will play in the development of energy technologies.
The editors are grateful to the officers and staff of the Royal Society for their support for, and assistance with, the organization of the Discussion Meeting and the preparation of this issue.
One contribution of 13 to a Discussion Meeting Issue ‘Energy materials to combat climate change’.
- © 2010 The Royal Society