Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sustainable Energy-without the hot air

The book by David MacKay, "Sustainable Energy: Without the Hot Air" is available at

There is also a blog at that has other interesting information on sustainability
including some ideas for games and demonstrations that illustrate energy consumption.
My favorite is his list of 4 things you can do each
week with approximate energy savings (see below)

You might want to check it out!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Emerging Technologies/ Emerging Economies Conference

Last month I attended the Emerging Technologies/Emerging Economines: (Nano)technology for Equitable Development conference in Washington D.C. (for conference website click here)
the goal:
"Emerging technologies hold the promise of solving some of the world’s most critical problems. Nanotechnology, along with information technology, biotechnology and other new technologies, has great potential for addressing such challenges as energy and environmental degradation, providing clean water, increasing the availability of sustainable food resources, and combating pandemic diseases. Moreover, increased international collaboration on technological innovation will both help to advance our understanding in these areas, and lessen inequality between the global North and South."

The conference focused on creating a dialogue between multiple groups such as NGOs, goverments, social scientists, and scientists on the use of technology (specifically focused on nanotechnology) for sustainable, equitable, global development. The participants were divided into 4 groups for different applications: Energy, Health, Water, Food Security. I participated in the Energy group.
In our Energy group we had people from all over the world (China, Brazil, India, Mexico, South Africa, Central America, etc) who were working in countries all over the world from Africa to South East Asia and the South Pacific. I was a great opportunity to hear the perspectives from the people living and working in these countries.
During our break-out discussion sessions, our group identified 2 different contexts in which technology is used to help development of the countries.
First, a technology can be applied at a household level. For this application, the use of solar panels with a battery and LED lighting is an ideal technology to provide individuals access to electricity and light. For application at the country-wide level however, this may not be ideal. We talked instead about the need for biomass-based production system such as in Brazil that would allow a country to become globally competitive in generating its own energy.

Overall, this was a great opportunity to interact with scientists, policy makers, NGO managers and government officials from all over the world who are interested in using technology for equitable development.
If you are interested in the conference, powerpoints from the panels are available on the website here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Notes from the Energy Summit-Institute for Energy Efficiency, UCSB

The IEE's Energy Summit was last week here at UCSB.
A few things I noted were:

The "social cost" of energy use
This referring to the social problems such as health-related problems, resource management and global warming etc. that come about from a unregulated, inefficient energy consumption. Randy Komisav talked about how the social cost of energy use is not refelected in the market economy, and how carbon credits are a way of adding in this cost, as carbon can be a proxy for these social costs.

New ideas about energy use
Lon Bell talked about changing the paradigm on how we heat up an electric car when there is no waste heat generated from combustion. Using in-seat thermoelectrics instead of the tradition air flow heating is the kind of paradigm shift that will be necessary when using new technologies.

Increasing efficiency vs. New more efficient technology
Many presentations discussed either increasing the energy efficiency of a current technology or developing a more energy efficient technology.  All agreed, however, that both are necessary to for sustainable energy use.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

IGERT seminar-Friday May 15th!!

Don't forget!
This Friday May 15th will be the IGERT seminar.

Prof. Mark E. Thompson from USC will be the speaker.

His talk is titled: "New Materials and Insights Into Organic Photovoltaics"

The seminar will be at 4 pm in ESB 1001

Abstract :
We have begun a systematic study of a range of different materials for organic photovoltaic devices.  This talk will discuss the development of new materials as donors, acceptors and buffer layers in OPVs.  We have investigated a family of Ru(beta-dikenotate) complexes.  Several subphthalocyanine complexes have been used to investigate the connection between the OPV open circuit voltage (Voc) and have explored the use of metal porphyrin complexes as donor materials in OPVs.  The complexes we have chosen have high luminance efficiencies and long lifetimes.  We expected that these two parameters would lead to long exciton diffusion lengths.  Both Pt and Pd complexes make good red absorbing donor materials in OPVs.  Unfortunately, our initial hypothesis that these materials would give long exciton diffusion lengths was wrong.  We believe that this is due to a combination of both poor spectra overlap and a self quenching process that severely shortens the exciton lifetimes in thin films of these materials.  We have developed a good model for the origins of the open circuit voltage in OPVs, based on new materials and conventional ones.  I will discuss this model.  Lastly, we have investigated a range of Ru(acetylacetonate)3 as a buffer materials and will discuss that chemistry, time permitting.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Speaker on Campus--Hector Abruna, Friday May 8th

Prof. Abruna will be speaking on campus this week, Friday May 8th at 11 am in ESB 1001. 
His talk is titled: "Electrical Energy Generation and Storage: Fuel Cells, Lithium Ion Batteries and SuperCaps"
This presentation will deal with materials aspects related to electrical energy generation and storage as exemplified by fuel cells in the former and lithium ion batteries and super capacitors in the latter. The first part of the presentation will focus on the development of new materials for fuel cell applications with emphasis on ordered intermetallic phases as both bulk electrodes and nano-particles. The electrocatalytic activity of these materials has been assessed via electrochemical methods including cyclic and rotating disk electrode voltammetries. They have also been characterized via in-situ FT-IR, DEMS (differential electrochemical mass spectrometry), UHV surface analysis methods and in-situ X-ray diffraction. The use of high throughput combinatorial methods will also be discussed. The second part of the presentation will deal with the use of organic thiolates/disulfides for application in high performance cathodes for lithium ion rechargeable batteries and supercapacitors. The results of synthesis, computational and electrochemical characterization studies will be presented. The presentation will conclude with a projection of future directions.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mattoussi vist to campus--update

Hedi Mattoussi will be giving a seminar titled “Nanoparticle-bioconjugates: Design and Use for Sensing and Imaging” on Monday April 20th.
The seminar will be 2-3pm in CHEM 1005D.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The School for Scientific Thought

A new program here at UCSB is being developed in which a doctoral student will develop a series of five lectures on any desired topic and present the lectures to an audience of local high school students. The program is called The School for Scientific Thought. There is an informational meeting on April 9th at 5pm in Elings Hall rm 1605.