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Energy: Electrochemical Storage and Sustainable Development

Jean-Marie Tarascon


Pierre Corvol
Traduction de Liz Libbrecht

Texte intégral

1Dear colleague,
Dear Jean-Marie Tarascon,

2Our planet’s growing need for energy is becoming a vital challenge and a socio-economic priority of utmost importance. Three factors combined make research in this domain particularly urgent: strong demographic growth, limited fossil fuel reserves, and the carbon emissions contributing to pollution and global warming. As conventional energy resources are limited, the energy sector has taken on crucial importance, and since electricity is the vector, one can envisage that the watt could become the next monetary unit.

3The challenge is to find new, environment-friendly energy sources with a low carbon concentration. Yet renewable energies (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, etc.) currently have very low electrical energy conversion yields, which are far from fulfilling the 28 terawatts our planet needs. Only solar energy could meet this demand, provided more efficient, cheap photovoltaic cells were developed. Moreover, these are intermittent energies – the sun does not shine on command –, which means they need to be coupled with storage systems to generate electricity on demand. From here on, two major problems arise: energy conversion and storage.

4You are a world-renowned specialist in solid-state electrochemistry. You have taken a particular interest in the lithium-ion technology that has flooded the portable electronics market and is highly coveted for electric vehicle and network applications. You thus work on the storage of energy in different types of lithium batteries, knowing that as many battery types need to be developed as there are applications for them. You are concerned with the design of new materials and the production of bio-inspired materials that imitate nature and could be used to develop new, clean batteries which meet the criteria of sustainable development.

5Although you are Head of the CNRS Laboratory of Reactivity and Solid-State Chemistry at the University of Amiens, a large part of your career has been in the United States at Cornell, at the Bell Laboratories and at Bellcore. You provide a perfect illustration of the bridges that need to be built between public fundamental research and industrial research. We owe you the development of a lithium-ion battery based on a new all-plastic system, which is currently being commercialized. You also facilitate the French Network for Research and Technology on the Batteries of the Future (Réseau français de recherche et technologie sur les batteries du future), which brings scientists and industrial players together. You are furthermore behind the creation of the European Network of Excellence for Advanced Lithium Energy Storage Systems.

6As holder of the Chair of Sustainable Development – Environment, Energy and Society, created with the support of Total, and which you are the third Professor to occupy, you will have the opportunity to teach about the issues and challenges surrounding energy storage within the sustainable development context.

7Jean-François Minster, Total’s scientific director, has highlighted the importance of this research by saying that “the electricity grid of the future has to be a ‘system of systems’ in which a wide array of decentralized and centralized generation sources will be linked through complex, smart grids and energy storage facilities. Batteries will play a key role in the storage system”.

© Collège de France, 2017

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