SLAC Public Lecture Series
As our dependence on foreign oil increases and concerns about global climate change rise, the need to develop sustainable energy technologies is becoming increasingly significant. Worldwide energy consumption is expected to double by the year 2050, as will carbon emissions along with it. This increase in emissions is a product of an ever-increasing demand for energy, and a corresponding rise in the combustion of carbon containing fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Undisputable scientific evidence indicates significant changes in the global climate have occurred in recent years. Impacts of climate change and the resulting atmospheric warming are extensive, and know no political or geographic boundaries. These far-reaching effects will be manifested as environmental, economic, socioeconomic, and geopolitical issues.
Offsetting the projected increase in fossil energy use with renewable energy production will require large increases in renewable energy systems, as well as the ability to store and transport clean domestic fuels. Storage and transport of electricity generated from intermittent resources such as wind and solar is central to the widespread use of renewable energy technologies. Hydrogen created from water electrolysis is an option for energy storage and transport, and represents a pollution-free source of fuel when generated using renewable electricity. The conversion of chemical to electrical energy using fuel cells provides a high efficiency, carbon-free power source. Hydrogen serves to blur the line between stationary and mobile power applications, as it can be used as both a transportation fuel and for stationary electricity generation, with the possibility of a distributed generation energy infrastructure. Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies will be presented as possible pollution-free solutions to present and future energy concerns. Recent hydrogen-related research at SLAC in hydrogen production, fuel cell catalysis, and hydrogen storage will be highlighted in this seminar.