Procter and Gamble Lecture Series
Professor Nathan S. Lewis
"Global Energy Perspective: Challenges of Renewable Energy Technologies"
As the 2010 Procter & Gamble Lecturer sponsored by the Department of Chemistry, Dr. Nathan Lewis spoke on Oct. 8, 2010 to the University community. His talk was titled "Global Energy Perspective: Challenges of Renewable Energy Technologies". Dr. Lewis is the George L. Argyros Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. He’s an expert on the challenges of adopting renewable-energy technologies on a wide scale. He’s principal investigator for a federally funded project aimed at making fuel directly from the sun. Lewis, who has had more than 300 papers published, studies ways to harness sunlight in order to generate chemical fuel by splitting water to produce hydrogen. In his talk, Lewis outlined the technical, economic and political challenges of adopting renewable-energy technologies on a widespread basis. He presented an estimate of available fossil fuel resources and reserves and then discussed the challenges of producing the most cost-effective carbon-free power needed by 2050. “Even if we save as much energy as all the energy we use now combined, you still have to make as much clean energy as all the oil, coal, gas and nuclear power on our planet combined within our lifetimes if we’re really going to think about cutting carbon emissions as carbon dioxide by 80 or 90 percent from their 1990 levels,” Lewis said. Dr. Lewis is currently trying to create an artificial leaf that would produce fuel directly from the sun. It is part of five-year, $122 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Dr. Lewis' presentation can be viewed on the California Institute of Technology website (http://nsl.caltech.edu; see the "Global Energy Perspective" link)
Dr. Lewis has been on the faculty at Caltech since 1988. He has been the Principal Investigator of the Beckman Institute Molecular Materials Resource Center at Caltech since 1992. Previously, Lewis was on the faculty at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.