ELECTROCHEMISTRY- QUO VADIS? Workshop Grant application

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Chemistry


Electrochemistry finds itself at a crossroads as a discipline. The prominence of the area, at least in its "technological" manifestations, has never been higher. Battery technology has revolutionised the ways in which we work and communicate, and research into the electrochemical transformation of the transport sector is at the forefront of every advanced economy. The next battery frontier, energy storage on the grid-scale, is also being addressed - with electrochemistry also featuring prominently in this transition. The "cheap electricity" that widespread electrochemical energy storage promises to yield has also led to a resurgence of interest in the use of electrochemistry to achieve certain types of reactions that are used to make molecules that are useful in drug manufacture, for example.
The focus on such applications of electrochemistry, however, means that the discipline itself is in a state of transition. For many years, electrochemistry was considered a "niche" area: an interesting, but slightly quirky, area of chemistry with potential application in batteries and fuel cells, but the dominance of hydrocarbons and the combustion engine meant that such devices only found application in specialised sectors. The focus of many academic electrochemists, e.g. in the 80s and 90s, was on "blue-skies" electrochemical research.
Today, however, the ongoing revolution in ambition and scale of electrochemical energy storage and conversion has resulted in a shift of activity, in the UK and arguably in many other advanced economies, away from continuing to address "fundamental" questions in electrochemistry.
We believe it is essential for the discipline of electrochemistry to come together now to look at the status quo, and discuss what else can be done to build upon the significant gains made to date, where fundamental knowledge derived in the 1960s and 70s on (for example) non-aqueous electrochemistry and the structure of the electrode/electrolyte interface was used to develop the battery and fuel cell technology that exists today. To summarise briefly, the central point is that we seek funding to bring together members of the electrochemical community, by holding a two day workshop, which we intend will define the direction for this discipline over the medium term (at least the next decade).

We therefore propose to hold a two-day workshop, which will bring together approximately 50 people with a range of backgrounds in electrochemistry, but with a skew towards those working on more "fundamental" aspects, to define the current state and future directions of the discipline in the UK.


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