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2013 Distinguished Lecturers

In 2008, GCEP established a distinguished lecturer program where our leading principal investigators travel to each of the sponsor's research centers for a day-long visit. The lecturers present their research highlights and engage in dialogue with members of the sponsor's in-house R&D team.

Robert Waymouth Photo
Robert Waymouth
Department of Chemistry
Stanford University

Presentation Title: Catalysis: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainability

Abstract: Petroleum has fueled modern economies in the 20th century, providing both low-cost energy and feedstocks for a highly integrated and vibrant chemical industry.  In the 21st century, alternative and more varied sources of energy and chemicals will be needed to provide the energy, materials, products and technologies that improve our lives while preserving the environment for future generations. Professor Waymouth will describe recent efforts in his group to develop new catalytic strategies for energy conversion and for the utilization of renewable resources as feedstocks for chemical intermediates and polymers. Fuel cells are attractive alternatives to the internal combustion engine, but suffer from poor catalyst performance at both the anode and the cathode. A reversible fuel cell would enable efficient energy conversion and storage if active catalysts could be developed for both the electrochemical oxidation of chemical fuels as well as the electrochemical reduction of CO2 or biomass into liquid fuels. We have investigated several families of reversible transfer hydrogenation catalysts as electrocatalysts for the oxidation or reduction of biomass-derived feedstocks. Transfer hydrogenation involves the transfer of hydrogen between alcohols and ketones; the thermoneutrality of transfer-hydrogenation reactions provides a useful paradigm for discovery of new reversible electrocatalysts. We will describe our efforts to utilize both homogeneous and heterogeneous transfer hydrogenation catalysts for the electrocatalytic oxidation and reduction reactions.

GCEP: Waymouth is a principal investigator on the GCEP research program entitled, Electrohydrogenation: Enabling Science for Renewable Fuels. He also led research on two other GCEP efforts that are now completed: The Electron Economy: Oxidation Catalysis for Energy Management and Electrocatalysis with Discrete Transition Metal Complexes.

Biography: Waymouth is Robert Eckles Swain Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University. He leads a research team of 12 students and two postdocs. Their research is directed towards the development of new catalytic strategies for polymer chemistry, biomass conversion and energy conversion. His most recent work has focused on the development of organocatalytic strategies for polymer synthesis, the synthesis and study of cyclic macromolecules, the selective oxidation of biomass-derived polyols and electrocatalysis.   He received a National Science Foundation Waterman Award, the Walter J. Gores and Phi Beta Kappa Award for Excellence in Teaching.  With Jim Hedrick of IBM, he received the Cooperative Research Award in Polymer Science and Engineering and the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.  Waymouth received his Ph.D. in Chemistry with Robert Grubbs at the California Institute of Technology and was a postdoctoral fellow with Piero Pino at the ETH in Zurich in 1987.

Sally Benson Photo

Distinguished Lecturer: Sally Benson
Director, Global Climate and Energy Project
Professor, Energy Resources Engineering
Stanford University

Presentation Title: An Update on the Global Climate and Energy Project

Abstract: How can we provide enough energy for the 9 billion people we expect on the Earth by 2050 without damaging the planetary support systems we rely on?
The Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) at Stanford University is addressing this challenge everyday. Established in 2002, GCEP is a groundbreaking university-industry partnership that supports fundamental research on sustainable, efficient technologies that significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that are cost effective when deployed at scale. GCEP is sponsored by ExxonMobil, GE, Schlumberger and DuPont.

In this talk, GCEP Director Sally Benson will provide an update on the project’s progress towards developing breakthrough energy technologies, educating future energy researchers, and providing affordable and clean energy for everyone. Benson will share highlights of GCEP’s decade of innovation and progress in the full spectrum of energy research. Recent results from GCEP’s energy systems analysis that prospective storage technologies and the impact of storage on the energetic efficiency of solar and wind power will be presented. She will also talk about new directions – including lessons learned from a GCEP-sponsored workshop in Mumbai, India, about the need for ultra-affordable energy solutions for the developing world.

GCEP: Benson is director of GCEP at Stanford University. She is also a professor of energy resources engineering in Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences and a lead principal investigator on the GCEP research program entitled, Multiphase Flow of CO2 and Water in Reservoir Rocks. She also leads the GCEP energy systems analysis team.

Benson is a member of the American Geophysical Union, Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. In 2012, she received the Greenman Award from the IEA Greenhouse Gas Programme.

A groundwater hydrologist and reservoir engineer, Benson has conducted research to address a broad range of issues. Over the past 15 years, she has studied how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing CO2 from power plants and pumping it into deep underground formations for permanent sequestration as a means of climate change mitigation. Her research interests also include energy systems analysis.

Benson was a convening lead author of the 2012 Global Energy Assessment and a coordinating lead author on the 2005 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on CO2 capture and storage.

She received a B.A. in geology from Barnard College at Columbia University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in materials science and mineral engineering from the University of California-Berkeley.



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