The Future is Solar: Meeting Worldwide Energy Demands with Sunlight and Other Clean Energy Sources

Robert Niederman (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry)

Because rising living standards are causing a dramatic increase in global energy consumption, the supply of secure, clean and sustainable energy is among the most important scientific and technical challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. Harnessing sunlight as a clean and renewable energy source is becoming increasingly important as an alternative to the widespread use of polluting fossil fuels as the overwhelming worldwide energy source. In this seminar, students will learn how an improved understanding of photosynthesis in simple organisms such as photosynthetic bacteria, can harness solar energy for a variety of applications: from solar-driven production of molecular hydrogen and other biofuels, to the fabrication of bio-solar photoelectric cells. Other forms of clean and sustainable energy such as wind, wave, tidal and hydrothermal power will also be considered.