MSE Seminar Series: How today's energy transition defines tomorrow's R&D needs

Friday, November 15, 2019
1:00 p.m.
1107 & 1111 Kim Engineering Building (Kay Boardrooms)
John Cumings

Speaker: Patrick McGrathDeputy Director for Technology, ARPA-E

Title: How today's energy transition defines tomorrow's R&D needs

Wind and solar generation technologies have advanced to the point that, today, they are the lowest-cost new-build generation technologies in the U.S. (as measured by Levelized Cost of Electricity). This is a significant milestone in the nation’s transition to a low-carbon electric system, but it is not the end of the road. While the grid will continue to incorporate greater levels renewable generation and expand the deployment of storage technologies, recent analyses suggest that other “firm low-carbon” generation technologies are required to reach deep decarbonization goals on the grid.  Building a system where the lowest-cost options are variable in nature will impose a new set of requirements and constraints that are very different from the grid’s historical design and operation rules. This, in turn, demands that we revisit the design conventions for full range of generation technologies that can enable a carbon-free electric system, including nuclear, CCS, and geothermal. This talk will provide an overview of a number of ARPA-E’S technology development efforts that seek to incorporate greater grid flexibility and modularity to enable the low-carbon system of the future.

Patrick McGrath currently serves as the Deputy Director for Technology at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) where he leads the technical staff in the development, launch and execution of high-risk, high-reward energy R&D programs. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Director, Dr. McGrath served as a Program Director at ARPA-E, leading the Accelerating Low-cost Plasma Heating and Assembly (ALPHA) program on low-cost development of fusion power; the Advanced Management and Protection of Energy Storage Devices (AMPED) program on advanced sensors, models, and controls for Battery Management Systems; as well as a range of materials and systems technology projects in the Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advances in Light Metals Systems (METALS), Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Materials (REACT), and ARPA-E OPEN programs.

Before coming to ARPA-E, McGrath served as a technical advisor at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he played a central role in program development, execution, and technology transition of DARPA programs in portable fuel cells for unmanned systems, hybrid energy storage systems, new catalytic approaches and novel electrochemical systems to handle Department of Defense logistics fuels.

Dr. McGrath received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia.

*MEI2 Joint Seminar


Audience: Campus 

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