The Role of Chemistry in the Energy Challenge

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Abstract

Chemistry with its key targets of providing materials and processes for conversion of matter is at the center stage of the energy challenge. Most energy conversion systems work on (bio)chemical energy carriers and require for their use suitable process and material solutions. The enormous scale of their application demands optimization beyond the incremental improvement of empirical discoveries. Knowledge-based systematic approaches are mandatory to arrive at scalable and sustainable solutions. Chemistry for energy, “ENERCHEM” contributes in many ways already today to the use of fossil energy carriers. Optimization of these processes exemplified by catalysis for fuels and chemicals production or by solid-state lightning can contribute in the near future substantially to the dual challenge of energy use and climate protection being in fact two sides of the same challenge. The paper focuses on the even greater role that ENERCHEM will have to play in the era of renewable energy systems where the storage of solar energy in chemical carries and batteries is a key requirement. A multidisciplinary and diversified approach is suggested to arrive at a stable and sustainable system of energy conversion processes. The timescales for transformation of the present energy scenario will be decades and the resources will be of global economic dimensions. ENERCHEM will have to provide the reliable basis for such technologies based on deep functional understanding.

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