WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2012 — Two noted scientists who are developing sustainable energy sources for the 21st century will deliver the next two lectures in the prestigious “Kavli Foundation Innovations in Chemistry Lecture” series at upcoming meetings of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.
Daniel G. Nocera, Ph.D, will deliver the Kavli lecture on Monday, April 8, 2013, at 5:30 p.m. at the 245th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in New Orleans, which is focused on the theme of Chemistry of Energy and Food. He is currently the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy and Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In January 2013, Nocera will become the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University.
Harry B. Gray, Ph.D., will deliver the Kavli lecture on Monday, September 9, 2013, at 5:30 p.m. at the 246th ACS National Meeting & Exposition in Indianapolis, which is focused on the theme of Chemistry in Motion. He is at the California Institute of Technology and is the Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and Founding Director of the Beckman Institute.
Both scientists are working toward green solutions that could produce clean, inexpensive energy. The solutions rely on harnessing the energy from the sun, instead of fossil fuels — which are nonrenewable and contribute carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, to the environment when they are burned.
Nocera has developed an “artificial leaf” that produces energy from sunlight. It mimics the process, called photosynthesis, that green plants use to convert water and sunlight into energy. The artificial leaf uses Earth-abundant materials, does not include any wires and is inexpensive to manufacture. When dropped into a jar of water in the sunlight, it releases hydrogen that can be used in fuel cells to make electricity. These self-contained units are attractive for use in remote places and the developing world.
Gray is developing ways to make clean energy from sunlight and water in much the same way as a green plant does. He is designing solar-driven molecular machines that, on a global scale, could store energy from the sun by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is a clean fuel that could be used directly or combined with carbon dioxide to produce methanol, a liquid fuel. Gray’s work focuses on metal catalysts from Earth-abundant materials that help the process move forward.
The lectures are designed to address the urgent need for vigorous, “outside-the-box” thinking by scientists as they tackle the world’s mounting challenges, including climate change, emerging diseases, and water and energy shortages. They are supported by The Kavli Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research and supporting scientists and their work. The Foundation implements its mission through an international program of research institutes in the fields of astrophysics and theoretical physics, nanoscience and neuroscience, and through the support of conferences, symposia, endowed professorships, journalism workshops and other activities.
“This program at the ACS national meetings fits perfectly with our commitment to support groundbreaking discovery and promote public understanding,” said Kavli Foundation President Robert W. Conn, Ph.D.
Marinda Li Wu, Ph.D., 2013 ACS president, praised The Kavli Foundation for its support of the lectures and leadership on a broad range of other activities in advancing science. “The Kavli Foundation and the American Chemical Society are excellent partners with remarkably similar missions,” Wu said. “ACS’ mission statement speaks of advancing the science of chemistry ‘for the benefit of Earth and its people.’ I am delighted that these two organizations can work together in their dedication to achieving these goals.”
The Kavli lectures debuted at the Anaheim meeting in March 2011 and will continue through 2013. They will address the urgent need for vigorous, new, “outside-the-box” thinking, as scientists tackle many of the world’s mounting challenges, like climate change, emerging diseases and water and energy shortages. The Kavli Foundation, an internationally recognized philanthropic organization known for its support of basic scientific innovation, agreed to sponsor the lectures in conjunction with ACS in 2010.