Energy production and storage: inorganic chemical strategies for a warming world

Energy production and storage: inorganic chemical strategies for a warming world 

Robert H Crabtree (ed)

Chichester, UK: John Wiley 2010 | 428pp | ?115.00 (HB)

ISBN 9780470749869

Reviewed by Bernard Bulkin


Inorganic chemistry, (or perhaps more accurately catalysis, organometallic chemistry, materials science, electrochemistry and photochemistry), is important to new technologies for energy production and storage. Whether novel solar cells, fuel cells, new batteries or improvements to existing batteries, activation of C-H bonds in methane and other hydrocarbons, or harnessing of enzymatic reactions, inorganic chemistry is there. Because all of these are very active areas of research and development, a book that summarises the current state of the art across a range of such problems is to be welcomed.

The volume, with 19 articles by some of the leading authorities in the field, is such a book. These are authoritative review articles, some of them extremely long and detailed (the one by Roy Periana and his colleagues on methane to methanol conversion is more than 40 pages), others appropriately shorter. There is no other book which brings such diverse and authoritative reviews together in one place.

The breadth of subjects covered is both the strength and weakness of this book. There are very few scientists who will have interest across the range of topics covered. At the same time, with one or two exceptions, these reviews are written for the very knowledgeable reader. So most purchasers of this volume will find it useful to peruse just a few of the articles in detail. If each of the articles had contained a bit more introduction for the less specialised reader, the value of the book to a broader audience would be enhanced. The other paradox of this volume is that each article reviews a ’hot’ area of research. As such, in a year or two the science will have moved on and the state of the art will have changed.