Date: February 9, 2009
Location: Friend Center
Energy Solutions for a Fossil Fuel-Deprived Future
Recent swings in oil prices remind us that the world’s supply of fossil fuels is finite. Roughly 85 percent of current energy use is being met by fossil fuels and the rapid increase in energy demand by developing nations is leading to ever-increasing use of coal, oil and natural gas. Therefore, alternate primary energy sources are being identified and developed to permit the continued functioning of the future world economy.
In this talk, Rakesh Agrawal describes the current landscape of alternative sustainable primary energy sources: solar, wind, nuclear, and biomass. Agrawal also reviews the particular challenges and solutions needed for various end uses of energy.
In a fossil fuel-deprived world of the future, it will be particularly challenging to satisfy the need of the transportation sector due to its requirement of high energy density fuel and associated ease of handling, according to Agrawal. Agrawal presents novel solutions to meet this challenge and sustain the current transportation sector that while providing a feasible framework for a sustainable solar economy also provide opportunities for scientists and engineers to apply their expertise and contribute to the grand challenge of energy.
About the Speaker
Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering,
Rakesh Agrawal is the Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor at Purdue University’s School of Chemical Engineering. He received a B. Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur), a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware, and an Sc.D., also in chemical engineering, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to moving to Purdue in 2004, Agrawal worked at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., where he became an Air Products Fellow.
A major thrust of Professor Agrawal’s research is related to energy issues, and includes novel processes for the fabrication of low-cost solar cells, the conversion of biomass and coal to liquid fuels, and energy systems analysis. His research interests also include the synthesis and design of multi-component separations (distillation, membrane and adsorption-based processes); cryogenics and gas liquefaction; and process synthesis and development.
Agrawal is the author of some 70 technical papers, and holds 116 U.S. patents and more than 500 overseas patents, which are currently used in more than 100 chemical plants with total capital expenditures in the multibillion dollar range. Agrawal currently serves on the Renewables to Electricity sub-panel of the National Academies’ study on America’s Energy Future. He is also a member of the National Research Council’s Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES), and served on the American Institute of Chemical Engineer’s Board of Directors and its Energy Commission.
Agrawal’s professional honors include the J and E Hall Medal from the Institute of Refrigeration in Great Britain; as well as the American Institute of Chemical Engineer’s Institute Lecture, the Industrial Research Institute Achievement Award, the Gerhold Award (AIChE Separations Division), the Excellence in Industrial Gases Technology Award, the Chemical Engineering Practice Award, and Fuels and Petrochemicals Division Awards. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.