Douglas Ray of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, addresses a University of Delaware Energy Institute workshop.

The future of energy

UD Energy Institute workshop explores thermochemical energy's future

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9:25 a.m., Oct. 18, 2013--The University of Delaware Energy Institute (UDEI) brought academic, industry and national laboratory leaders and experts to campus Oct. 8-9 to discuss thermochemical upgrading — the process of converting carbon-based raw materials into energy sources — as it relates to the global energy and environmental future.

In opening remarks, Charles Riordan, UD vice provost for research, stressed the complexity of the challenges ahead and the important role UDEI will play in facilitating research and partnerships aimed toward a more sustainable future.

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“All the simple problems have been solved. In order to address the challenging problems, we need to bring together diverse groups of individuals. That means all aspects of diversity, including racial, disciplinary, diversity of thought and approach,” said Riordan. “We’re excited about starting this important conversation.”

The two-day workshop, held at the Embassy Suites in Newark, was sponsored by UDEI, ExxonMobil, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Air Liquide, an international gas supplier for industry, health care and environmental needs. 

Discussion topics included energy resources derived from biomass, coal, natural gas and petroleum, among other things. Featured speakers included:

  • Pietro Di Zanno, AirLiquide director of market development, gasification and biofuels,
  • Vijay Swarup, ExxonMobil corporate strategic research manager, and
  • Robert S. Weber, PNNL senior scientist and operating officer of the Institute for Integrated Catalysis.

According to Michael Klein, UDEI director and the Dan Rich Chair of Energy, the main issues at stake are energy security and the environment. Successful advances, however, will require more than just research to achieve solutions.

“Our energy challenges are too complex and too crucial for any single organization — University of Delaware, or ExxonMobil, Air Liquide, or Pacific Northwest National Laboratory — to tackle alone,” said Klein. “Thus, it is evident that partnerships are essential to making progress. That’s why we’re here — not just to identify the issues but to help establish partnerships and work together to find solutions to our energy future.”

Article by Kevin Cella

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