A Discussion on Sustainable Energy

ACS Meeting, San Francisco, September 9, 2007

According to our charter, The Committee on Environmental Improvement is charged with promoting awareness and active concern for protecting and improving the quality of human health and the environment. Within that context, the goal of this effort is to understand the importance of sustainable energy for society in general, and the chemical enterprise in particular. In this way, we will be better able to inform the ACS in its interactions with our organizations, in its programming goals, in its policy positions, and more.

This panel of five speakers covered a range of topics on sustainable energy. While each speaker addressed the issue from their own unique background, the talks included the use of bio-based resources, alternate energy sources (wind, solar, etc.), traditional power sources, energy efficiency, and energy research priorities. These presentations were not intended to provide the level detailed technical content as would be included in a traditional ACS scientific presentation, but rather placed the scientific knowledge within the context of macroscopic energy needs. To assist in placing discussions in context, see Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies, S. Pacala and R. Socolow, Science 13 August 2004 305: 968-972 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1100103].

Click on the name to view the presentation in pdf format.

Dr. Martha Krebs is Deputy Director for Energy Research and Development for the California Energy Commission. The Energy Research and Development Division is responsible for the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program, which conducts research that seeks to improve the quality of life for California citizens by developing next generation environmentally sound, reliable and affordable electricity and natural gas services and products. Before coming to the Energy Commission, she was President of Science Strategies, an analysis and consulting firm that works with public and private organizations to identify critical issues and opportunities in science and technology.

Prior to establishing Science Strategies, she was an Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of California at Los Angeles. She came to UCLA as the founding Institute Director of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), where she was responsible for establishing the initial leadership, strategic direction and administration of the Institute. The Institute is focused on the understanding and design of nanostructures and their integration into complex systems with new properties beyond those already found in nature. Earlier, Dr. Krebs was a senior Fellow at the Institute for Defense Analysis, where she led studies in R&D management, planning and budgeting.

From 1993 to 2000, Dr. Krebs served as Assistant Secretary and Director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy, responsible for the $3.5 billion basic research program that underlay the Department’s energy, environmental and national security missions. She also had the statutory responsibility for advising the Secretary on the broad R&D portfolio of the Department and the institutional health of its National Laboratories. During her tenure, she built international collaborations in particle physics, strengthened interagency collaborations for human genome sequencing, synchrotron radiation and global climate research, and oversaw the advocacy and successful construction of eight major scientific user facilities. She served on the National Science and Technology Council’s Interagency Committee on Science and its Committee on the Environment.

From 1983-1993, she served as an Associate Director for Planning and Development at the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where she was responsible for strategic planning for research and facilities, Laboratory technology transfer, and science education and outreach. From 1977-1983, she served on the House Committee on Science first as a Professional Staff Member and then as Subcommittee Staff Director, responsible for authorizing DOE non-nuclear energy technologies and energy science programs.

She received her Bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in Physics from the Catholic University of America. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the Association of Women in Science. She is a member of the National Research Council’s Board on Energy and Environmental Systems and its Board on Chemical Science and Technology. She is also a Trustee of the Institute for Defense Analyses.

Jeff Greenblatt

Dr. Greenblatt is a scientist at Environmental Defense in Oakland, California, where he focuses on understanding the scientific, technical and economic aspects of a wide range of mitigation options for reducing global warming pollution, including energy efficiency, biofuels, renewable electricity, decarbonized fossil energy, and carbon sequestration. After a post-doc at NASA Ames measuring ozone depletion, Dr. Greenblatt went to Princeton University to study the natural carbon cycle, carbon mitigation strategies and future energy-use scenarios. He worked with Professors Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala to help create the "wedge" concept of climate stabilization. Dr. Greenblatt received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1999.

Jeffrey Steinfeld

Jeff Steinfeld is Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received a B.S. in Chemistry at M.I.T. in 1962, and Ph.D. in physical chemistry (with Prof. William Klemperer, Harvard University) in 1965. Following a year as N.S.F. Postdoctoral Fellow with the late Sir George Porter at the University of Sheffield (U.K.), Prof. Steinfeld joined the M.I.T. Chemistry Department in 1966.

Research specialties include molecular spectroscopy, molecular energy transfer, and laser applications to chemistry, including optical methods for remote sensing and atmospheric monitoring. Present research and teaching emphasis is on atmospheric chemistry and introducing concepts of sustainability and environmental responsibility, including energy related topics, across the curriculum. Current and recent activities in this area include serving as Director of the Education Program in the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment at M.I.T., as member [1997 -- date] and Chair [1999 -- 2002] of the American Chemical Society's Committee on Environmental Improvement, and as member of the National Research Council Committee on Chemical Demilitarization. Dr. Steinfeld received the 1999 ACS Director's Award for Advancing ACS Public Policy in Environment, for work to encourage the use of sound science in global climate change policy.

Jim McMillan

James D. (“Jim”) McMillan is the group manager for Biorefining Process R&D and a senior biochemical engineer in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Bioenergy Center, where he leads and guides efforts to advance biochemical- and thermochemical-based lignocellulose biorefining technologies. His is the co-inventor on two patents, co-recipient of two R&D 100 awards, and author or co-author of six book chapters and more than 60 technical papers and reports and over 100 posters and presentations. He currently co-chairs the annual Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels and Chemicals and has co-edited the past six Symposia proceedings volumes. A reviewer for several journals and funding agencies, Jim is a member of both the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). He is particularly active in AIChE, chairing and co-chairing many AIChE sessions. He is a former elected director in AIChE’s Food, Pharmaceutical, and Bioengineering Division, and chaired for its first four years an AICHE topical conference entitled, “Envisioning Biorefineries: Chemicals and Materials from Renewable Resources.” Serving on many doctoral students’ theses committees, Jim is or has been an adjunct faculty member in the Colorado State University, University of Colorado, and University of Puerto Rico chemical engineering departments. He obtained his B.S. in chemical engineering with high distinction from Colorado State University, and his M.S. in chemical engineering practice and Ph.D. in biochemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Devinder Mahajan

Professor Mahajan holds one of the only five joint appointments between Brookhaven National Laboratory and SUNY at Stony Brook. Dr. Mahajan’s professional goal is to bridge science and technology for the benefit of mankind. To achieve this goal, his research interests focus on Energy issues that includes a portfolio of projects on Methane hydrates, H2 production, Fuel Cells, Fischer-Tropsch, Methanol, and mixed alcohol synthesis using soluble (single-site) or slurried (nano heterogeneous or colloidal phase) based catalysts. Scientifically, his work in the synthesis of clean fuels is internationally recognized. He has organized symposia and international workshops on issues such as Clean Fuels, Methane Hydrates, and Biomass and serves as a Guest Editor of two recent special volumes: Topics In Catalysis and Journal of Petroleum Science & Engineering. He has served as a consultant to several companies and lectures on clean energy topics nationally and internationally. He is the author of over 70 publications including book chapters and encyclopedia articles, 10 patents, and presented 37 invited lectures and over 66 lectures at various conferences around the globe. His work is constantly covered through several press releases. He serves on several national and international energy-related committees. In March 2006, he was recognized with a membership to the prestigious Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS)-US Section and is a recipient of the RANS Crown and Eagle Medal of Honor for service to the field of “Petroleum Engineering”.

In the administrative capacity, he was instrumental in setting up the Chemical & Molecular Engineering (CME) program in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) at Stony Brook in 2004. He also helped develop a Certificate Course in Homeland Security Science & Technology at Stony Brook in 2005. He manages personnel, projects, and budgets in various capacities. He is a member of the ABET committee within CEAS.

Professor Mahajan’s vision is to set up a regional Energy Center in collaboration with various New York State institutions and industry. As a Professor at Stony Brook, his priority is to further integrate education and research at both undergraduate and graduate level, foster collaboration within the university with a goal to train students in the next-generation energy technologies.