In the 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama specifically mentioned ongoing research activities in the area of converting sunlight into chemical fuels. Why are chemical fuels important? Chemical fuels currently account for over 80% of world-wide energy consumption, predominantly in the form of fossil fuels (natural gas, petroleum, and coal). In this lecture, we will examine the prospects of moving away from these traditional chemical fuel sources and instead towards a clean and sustainable path to synthesizing similar molecules using solar energy. There are numerous challenges involved, bridging materials science, chemistry, physics, and chemical engineering. We will address these challenges, and discuss some of the cutting-edge research currently underway at Stanford University in order to overcome technical obstacles in the field. The techno-economics of large-scale solar fuel facilities will also be discussed.
Thomas Jaramillo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. His research interests include the design and synthesis of advanced nano-structured materials for catalyzing chemical transformations in energy conversion devices, particularly those involved in solar fuel synthesis. He earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from U.C. Santa Barbara and a Bachelor’s degree from Stanford.
This lecture begins at 7:00pm on the lawn of the Cantor Art Museum.