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Sergey Paltsev (Deputy Director MIT Joint Program) Dennis G. Whyte (Hitachi America Professor of Engineering MIT) Howard J. Herzog (Senior Research Engineer MITEI) Peter Godart (Department of Mechanical Engineering MIT)

Future of energy: Tackling climate change

Life and Matter Sciences, Social Sciences International Symposium Thursday, 17th March 2022, 9:30 hours Madrid

General information:

Organized with MIT-Industrial Liaison Program  

Venue: Fundación Ramón Areces - salón de actos. Calle Vitruvio, 5. 28006. Madrid.

Free admission. Necessary previous online registration. Limited capacity. 




Eduardo GarridoProgram Director. Corporate Relations MIT.

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Global climate change presents us with unprecedented challenges. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that the majority of the rapid warming of our planet over the past century, has been forced by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. The great majority of these scientists agree that, if this warming continues, it presents significant risks to humankind and all life on Earth. Currently, there is no magic bullet for fossil fuels. No one energy technology can provide a cheap and reliable alternative, capable of supporting the world’s growing energy needs.

LMIT Professors Sergey Paltsev and Dennis Whyte will share their views on the array of technology options, the economic and climate impacts of energy decisions and the future of fusion, its technology, economic viability and its path to commercialization.

On top of this, MIT Researchers, Howard Herzog and Peter Godard will address the potential of Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) in helping the world reach its goal of net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases and turning energy-dense scrap aluminum into a water-reactive fuel for clean hydrogen generation.

Dr. Sergey Paltsev. Scaling up low-carbon energy: Economic, Geopolitical and Environmental Impacts
Currently, there is no magic bullet for fossil fuels—no one energy technology that can provide a cheap and reliable alternative capable of supporting the world’s growing energy needs. Instead, decision-makers looking to lower greenhouse gas emissions must choose from an expansive menu of technology and policy options.
MIT economist Sergey Paltsev studies this array of technology and policy options, with the goal of easing any economic growing pains that might result from the world’s energy transition. Though his research spans a wide range of topics and regions, it is tied together by a common thread: understanding the economic and climate impacts of energy decisions.

Prof. Dennis G. Whyte. The State of Fusion
MVast improvements in magnetic confinement of Plasma uses in MITs NET SPARC project, expect to achieve net energy gain from fusion by 2025 and potentials commercial applications for the technology “could follow in the 2030s”.
Professor Dennis White will give an overview of the technology, economic viability and outline its path to commercialization.

Dr. Howard J. Herzog.  The Role of Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS) in Getting to Net-Zero
Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) has the potential to be a significant player in helping the world reach its goal of net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases. While there has been a great deal of research and development of CCS technologies over the past three decades, CCS deployment has been somewhat limited. In this talk, I will discuss the present status of CCS and what is holding back its large-scale deployment. Looking to the future, I will examine the different roles CCS can play, including decarbonizing power and industrial plants, producing lowcarbon hydrogen, and removing CO2 from the atmosphere. I will conclude by suggesting what is needed to accelerate the deployment of CCS.

Dr. Peter Godart. Waste-to-Energy for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
Communities around the world face continual disruption to critical electricity and potable water infrastructure due to severe storms, wildfires, and other natural disasters that are becoming more frequent and potent due to climate change. At the same time, many such communities see their local ecosystems being polluted due to poor waste management, especially as debris from severe weather events causes waste streams to surge in volume. Instead of compounding the issue, what if debris and other refuse could be converted into clean fuels locally to power the generation of critical resources when they would otherwise be inaccessible? Aluminum, for example, is the most abundant metal on earth and is widely used in nearly every industry. Currently global recycling rates are limited by complications with sorting waste by alloy content, lack of economic incentive, and the recent restriction of waste exports to other countries. As a result, several million tons of aluminum are landfilled each year in the US alone, leaving a significant amount of potential energy sitting idle and unused. A new alternative strategy to managing this waste is to turn it into an energy-dense fuel that reacts exothermically with water to produce hydrogen and boehmite, a valuable byproduct used in various industrial and pharmaceutical processes. When exposed to air, bulk aluminum develops an oxide layer that prevents it from reacting with water at practical temperatures; however, recent research at MIT has shown that a minimal surface treatment of gallium and indium can disrupt the oxide layer at the grain boundaries, allowing this reaction to proceed to >95% completion. In this talk, I discuss my research on the science and engineering of turning energy-dense scrap aluminum into a water-reactive fuel for clean hydrogen generation, as well as provide a thermodynamic perspective on plastic and biomass waste streams, and how they might be leveraged in a similar way to make climate adaptation and mitigation more effective and equitable.

Thursday,  17th March

9:00 h.

Attendees check-in

9:30 h.

Welcome and Introduction

Raimundo Pérez-Hernández 
Director Fundación Ramón Areces.

Klaus Schleicher 
Director, MIT Corporate Relations. Industrial Liaison Program.

 9:45 h.

Scaling up low-carbon energy: Economic, Geopolitical and Environmental Impacts

Dr. Sergey Paltsev
Deputy Director, MIT Joint Program. Senior Research Scientist, MIT Energy Initiative. Director, Energy-at-Scale Center.

10:30 h.

The State of Fusion  

Prof. Dennis G. Whyte
Hitachi America Professor of Engineering, MIT. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT.


11:15 h.


 11:45 h.

The Role of Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS) in Getting to Net-Zero

Dr. Howard J. Herzog
Senior Research Engineer, MITEI. Executive Director of MITEI’s Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage low-carbon energy center.

12:35 h.

Waste-to-Energy for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

Dr. Peter Godart
Postdoctoral researcher and educator. Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT.

13:15 h.


Klaus Schleicher
Director Corporate Relations MIT.­­­­­­­

Dr. Sergey Paltsev
Prof. Dennis G. Whyte
Dr. Howard J. Herzog 
Dr. Peter Godart

 13:45 h.

Wrap up and closing

Raimundo Pérez-Hernández 
Director Fundación Ramón Areces.

Eduardo Garrido 
Program Director, Corporate Relations MIT.

  Dr. Sergey Paltsev

Dr. Sergey Paltsev is a Deputy Director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, a Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Energy Initiative and MIT Center for Energy
and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR), and a Director of the MIT Energy-at-Scale Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA. He is the lead modeler in charge of the MIT Economic Projection and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model of the world economy. Dr. Paltsev is an author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals and books in the area of energy economics, climate policy, transport, advanced energy technologies, and international trade. Sergey was a Lead Author of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

He is a recipient of the 2012 Pyke Johnson Award (by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, USA, for the best paper in the area of planning and environment). Sergey is an Advisory Board Member for the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Consortium and a Member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Integrated Assessment Modeling Consortium. Additional information at: https://globalchange.mit.edu/about-us/personnel/paltsev-sergey 

   Prof. Dennis G. Whyte

Dennis Whyte is a recognized leader in the field of fusion research using the magnetic confinement of plasmas for energy production on a faster, smaller, and more innovative path. Dennis is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, has over 300 publications, and is heavily involved as an educator. He is widely recognized for his themes of innovation and the need for speed and economic viability in fusion. He has served on panels for the National Academies, the U.S. government, and the Royal Society. As director of Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) he presents the Center’s vision to peer institutions and recruits faculty and scientists to the team. The core of the SPARC project was formed over eight years ago during a design course led by Dennis to challenge assumptions in fusion.

Many of the ideas underpinning the high-field approach — including the use of HTS for high-field, demountable magnets, liquid blankets, and ARC — have been conceived of or significantly advanced in these courses. Dennis’ leadership as director of PSFC has been a key enabler for the SPARC project, providing the stature necessary to bring the institutional and outside support to the project.

  Dr. Howard J. Herzog

Howard J. Herzog is a senior research engineer in the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and Executive Director of MITEI’s Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage low-carbon energy center. He received his undergraduate and graduate education in chemical engineering at MIT. He has industrial experience with Eastman Kodak, Stone & Webster, Aspen Technology, and Spectra Physics. Since 1989, he has been on the MIT research staff, where he works on sponsored research involving energy and the environment, with an emphasis on greenhouse gas mitigation technologies.

He was a Coordinating Lead Author for the IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (released September, 2005) and a US delegate to the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum’s Technical Group (June 2003-September 2007). He was awarded the 2010 Greenman Award by the IEAGHG “in recognition of contributions made to the development of greenhouse gas control technologies”. In 2018, he authored a book entitled Carbon Capture for the MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series. 

   Dr. Peter Godart

Peter Godart is a postdoctoral researcher and educator at MIT in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and is working to develop carbon-free and equitable energy solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation. He holds BSc degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering and an MSc and PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT. After earning his bachelor’s degrees in 2015, Peter spent two years as a research scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he worked daily operations for the Curiosity Mars Rover, qualified hardware for the Mars 2020 Rover (Perseverance), and led a research team in the development of a new aluminum-based fuel for a lander that may one day go to Europa, one of Jupiter’s icy moons. For his doctoral work, Peter developed new ways of extracting energy from aluminum waste to power electricity generation and seawater desalination in the aftermath of natural disasters. His current research interests include probing the fundamental nature of metal-water reactions at the molecular level, waste-to-energy for clean hydrogen production, and the development of devices capable of using hydrogen gas to power the generation of critical resources off the grid.

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