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Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania
“Chemical Lightning: Using Electrostatic Fields to Make Alternative Fuels”
The sourcing, management and efficient use of energy poses one of the greatest long-term challenges to societal stability. The economic impact alone of damage caused by rising global temperatures is projected to reach $1 trillion/year by 2050 in the United States. The most promising method for mitigating the effects of man-made climate change is to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels by generating renewable fuel sources, but the chemicals used to synthesize these fuels can be difficult to break apart and rearrange into useful forms. The research presented in this talk is aimed at using strong, local electrostatic fields to help catalyze the transformation of small molecules – like those found in the air and plant matter – into alternative fuels, including ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen.