An Introduction to Electrocatalyst Design using Machine Learning for Renewable Energy Storage

Scalable and cost-effective solutions to renewable energy storage are essential to addressing the world's rising energy needs while reducing climate change. As we increase our reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which produce intermittent power, storage is needed to transfer power from times of peak generation to peak demand. This may require the storage of power for hours, days, or months. One solution that offers the potential of scaling to nation-sized grids is the conversion of renewable energy to other fuels, such as hydrogen or methane. To be widely adopted, this process requires cost-effective solutions to running electrochemical reactions. An open challenge is finding low-cost electrocatalysts to drive these reactions at high rates. Through the use of quantum mechanical simulations (density functional theory), new catalyst structures can be tested and evaluated. Unfortunately, the high computational cost of these simulations limits the number of structures that may be tested. The use of machine learning may provide a method to efficiently approximate these calculations, leading to new approaches in finding effective electrocatalysts. In this paper, we provide an introduction to the challenges in finding suitable electrocatalysts, how machine learning may be applied to the problem, and the use of the Open Catalyst Project OC20 dataset for model training.

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