GOLDEN, Colo., July 10, 2015 – Experts and graduate students will gather at Colorado School of Mines to explore the latest developments and future trends in materials used to generate and store sustainable energy.
The fourth International School for Materials for Energy and Sustainability takes place July 13 to 20. Previous iterations have been held by the Ettore Majorana Foundation in the medieval village of Erice in in Sicily, Italy; future schools will return to Italy every other year.
“The philosophy is to bring students together from very diverse backgrounds to think broadly about energy and sustainable materials,” said Ryan O’Hayre, professor of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, who has lectured at all three previous schools and is helping to coordinate this year’s gathering in addition to presenting on fuel cells.
“Each lecture topic could be a semester-long course,” according to O’Hayre. The speakers are highly distinguished experts, including leading scientists from national laboratories, and top faculty from Mines and other world-class research universities.
“It’s important to give students context,” said O’Hayre, so the agenda this year includes a special lecture on gas, oil, coal, and hydraulic fracturing by Professor of Geophysics Roel Snieder. Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Carolyn Koh will tackle the use of unconventional materials for energy.
Materials genomics – another emerging area of study – will be discussed by Bill Tumas of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. For years now, scientists have been decoding the human genome for insight into our health. In a similar fashion, researchers are now scanning the periodic table using predictive computer simulations to discover new materials compositions for a variety of future applications.
“Edison took 20 years to figure out tungsten was the best material for lightbulb filaments,” O’Hayre said. Materials genomics would shorten that process.
Mines Professor John McCray, department head of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will present on the Water Energy Nexus, a new way of looking at two age-long issues. “Energy and water are very tightly tied together,” O’Hayre said. “If we can solve the energy problem, we can solve the water problem.”
For example, modern societies devote a large amount of infrastructure to processing water. This water goes to toilet tanks, garden hoses, and the like, but in reality, only tap water needs to be purified – maybe all we need is a filter at the faucet instead of expending all this energy.
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