Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Mario Wriedt recently conducted a workshop in Switzerland on how advanced materials can stop climate change.
The German National Academic Foundation invited Wriedt and Julian P. Sculley of Booz Allen Hamilton to organize the two-week workshop, "Energy Market in Change – Material-Sciences on the Way to Clean Energy," in August. The workshop examined the world's energy landscape, particularly in Europe, and a special focus was placed on the implication of metal-organic frameworks in this field.
The seminar consisted of 13 German and Swiss students from various majors, including chemistry, material sciences, mathematics, geology, engineering and economics. The students learned about the fast-developing field of renewable energy and the future energy mix, taking into account the possibility of how to produce energy as well as the different approaches to store energy and make energy available at all times.
Wriedt said bringing together students from different disciplines helped everyone—including himself—better understand the different perspectives needed to collaborate on the global energy landscape.
"I'm a chemist, so I design materials that can handle those problems, but I just design them," he said. "The engineers need to take care of how to use those materials in a real-world engineering process."
While it is not possible to immediately shut down all power plants, Wriedt said, a transition phase allows for some power plants to be turned off as people switch to more renewable energy. He said the workshop explored how alternative energy options such as hydrogen and methane could be utilized in the future. For example, Wriedt said, generating hydrogen energy might not be difficult, but researchers must also analyze the potential danger of storing hydrogen in fuel tanks.
"The transition phase is important," he said. "We can't immediately switch from all coal-fired power plants to hydrogen economy. We need to look at the long term in 50 years."
Wriedt said his goal for the workshop was to encourage students to think about the future of renewable energies. If the energy landscape remains the same, he said, climate change will have a devastating effect on ecosystems.
"The message of the workshop was to not just be focused on one material class, or that the solution must be hydrogen or natural gas, but to be open-minded that there are several solutions and we need to figure out what to concentrate on," he said.
Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.
Photo caption: Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Mario Wriedt, seventh from left, recently conducted a workshop in Switzerland on how advanced materials can stop climate change.
[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/mwriedt-workshop.jpg .]