Mesoporous materials for clean energy technologies
Alternative energy technologies are greatly hindered by significant limitations in materials science. From low activity to poor stability, and from mineral scarcity to high cost, the current materials are not able to cope with the significant challenges of clean energy technologies. However, recent advances in the preparation of nanomaterials, porous solids, and nanostructured solids are providing hope in the race for a better, cleaner energy production. The present contribution critically reviews the development and role of mesoporosity in a wide range of technologies, as this provides for critical improvements in accessibility, the dispersion of the active phase and a higher surface area. Relevant examples of the development of mesoporosity by a wide range of techniques are provided, including the preparation of hierarchical structures with pore systems in different scale ranges. Mesoporosity plays a significant role in catalysis, especially in the most challenging processes where bulky molecules, like those obtained from biomass or highly unreactive species, such as CO2 should be transformed into most valuable products. Furthermore, mesoporous materials also play a significant role as electrodes in fuel and solar cells and in thermoelectric devices, technologies which are benefiting from improved accessibility and a better dispersion of materials with controlled porosity.