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VIDEO: Arun Majumdar, Using Science to Innovate in Efficient Energy Utilization

Date: January 20, 2009

Time: -

Location: Friend Center Convocation Room

To address the challenges of energy security and climate change, it is becoming increasingly clear that the “business as usual” approaches to de-carbonizing the energy supply and to reduce energy demand are inadequate, according to Arun Majumdar. He argues for the need to create an era of major innovations in energy conversion, storage and end-use technology that are not only efficient, but are also scalable and cost-effective. This, in combination with well-aligned policy, education and economics, can lead to profound societal changes, Majumdar says.

Majumdar discusses examples from his laboratory where science is being deployed to address basic needs in thermal energy conversion, transport, and utilization. Why is thermal energy important? About 80 percent of the U.S. energy supply is used in heating and cooling, and about 60 percent of the energy in any power generation process is wasted as heat, says Majumdar. “If we are to address the needs of the supply and demands sides of energy, we must develop the ability to manipulate thermal energy,” he says.

This talk focuses on fundamental barriers and limits in thermal energy processes that can only be overcome using science. These include the alloy and amorphous limits of thermal conductivity in solids, which have significant bearing on thermoelectric energy conversion; critical heat flux in phase transitions, which are widely used in power generation and refrigeration; and new approaches to solar-thermal energy that are fundamentally different from those developed in the past.

About the Speaker

Arun Majumdar
Almy & Agnes Maynard Chair Professor and Director, Environmental Energy Technologies Division,
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Arun Majumdar received a B.Tech in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) in 1985, and a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989, for research conducted in the laboratory of Professor Chang-Lin Tien. After being on the faculty of Arizona State University (1989-92) and University of California, Santa Barbara (1992-96), he began his faculty appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He currently holds the Almy and Agnes Maynard Chair Professorship in the College of Engineering. In addition to his faculty appointment, in the fall of 2007 he was named as the director of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he is involved in creating new initiatives in the area of energy research.

Majumdar served as the chair of the Berkeley Nanosciences and Nanoengineering Institute and was also a member of the Nanotechnology Technical Advisory Group to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). He served as the Council of Materials Science and Engineering at the Department of Energy and is a member of the Advisory Committee of the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Directorate. He also serves on the editorial board of Nano Letters and the International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer.

Majumdar is a recipient of the Institute Silver Medal (IIT-B) (1985), a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award (1992-97), the Distinguished Alumni Award from IIT-B (2002) and many awards from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, where he is a fellow. He is also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement Science and was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2005.