MSE Seminar: Nanotechnology to Overcome Material Challenges for Sustainable Energy System

Friday, February 15, 2019
1:00 p.m.
2110 Chem/Nuc Bldg, UMD College Park

Speaker: U. Balu Balachandran

Title: Nanotechnology to Overcome Material Challenges for Sustainable Energy System



The growing demand for energy, brought about by global population growth and the rising standard of living in the developing world, has made it imperative that cleaner and more sustainable means for energy production, conversion, storage, and utilization be found to sustain and grow the world economy. Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The search for smaller, cheaper, environmentally friendly, and more efficient sustainable energy technologies is intimately connected to the development of new materials. Dramatic breakthroughs are taking place in the fields of solar cells, fuel cells, power electronics, rechargeable batteries, high temperature superconductors, hydrogen production/storage, etc. In most of these cases, the development and commercialization of the environmentally friendly energy technologies is limited by availability of materials. Therefore, it is essential to understand the fundamentals of structure-processing-properties relationship of materials and apply those fundamentals for developing materials for different applications to meet the ever-growing demand for energy. Nonscientists will be the ones getting to the bottom of the world’s energy problems because all elementary steps of energy conversion/utilization take place on the nanoscale. Understanding and controlling the properties of nanostructured materials can bring new technologies to the marketplace that help solve major challenges in sustainable energy. It is essential that scientists working in the area of alternate energies should keep in mind both the economics and ethics of their inventions. Use of prohibitively expensive materials for tackling the sustainable energy technologies should be avoided at all costs for obvious reasons. Likewise, scientists should also be cognizant of socio-economic factors in designing new technologies. As an example, ever since the production of ethanol from corn became an industrial reality, the cost of corn rose exponentially and adversely interfered with the human and animal food chain. It takes more than science to address the future energy needs of the society. In this talk, I will present few examples of technical barriers/research opportunities in developing materials for sustainable energy system. 


Dr. U. (Balu) Balachandran, Distinguished Fellow at Argonne National Laboratory, received his Ph.D. in Materials Science in 1980. He has been doing research in the area of electronic materials for nearly 40 years.  His research interests include fuel cells, nano-carbon infused metals for advanced conductors, ceramic membranes for gas separation, chemical production, natural gas upgrading, CO2 capture, advanced capacitors for power electronics, and high–temperature superconductors.   He has been an invited speaker at 120 conferences in several countries.  He is a Fellow of The American Ceramic Society (1999), and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (2006).  He has authored/coauthored 276 papers in peer reviewed international journals, edited 23 books (conference proceedings/transactions), and holds 48 issued patents.  He has won numerous awards including four R&D 100 Awards, two Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Awards for Excellence in Technology Transfer, Distinguished Alumni Award, and University of Chicago's Distinguished Performance Award (the highest honor offered for scientific achievement).   

Audience: Campus 

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