Hanscom Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, Meeting

In conjunction with the IEEE Life Members Chapter

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

3:30 PM Refreshments, 4:00 PM Talk

MIT Lincoln Laboratory Auditorium

On the Global Energy Future and Science’s Challenge to

Power the Planet

Daniel G. Nocera, W. M. Keck Professor of Energy, MIT  

The supply of secure, clean, sustainable energy is arguably the most important scientific and technical challenge facing humanity in the 21st century. Rising living standards of a growing world population will cause global energy consumption to increase dramatically over the next half century. Within our lifetimes, energy consumption will increase at least two-fold, from our current burn rate of 12.8 TW to 28 – 35 TW by 2050 (TW = 1012 watts). This additional energy needed, over the current 12.8 TW energy base, is simply not attainable from long discussed sources – these include nuclear, biomass, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric. The global appetite for energy is simply too much. Petroleum-based fuel sources (i.e., coal, oil and gas) could be increased. However, deleterious consequences resulting from external drivers of economy, the environment, and global security dictate that this energy need be met by renewable and sustainable sources.

Daniel G. Nocera received his early education at Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Scholar, obtaining a B.S. degree in 1979 with Highest Honors. He moved to Pasadena, California where he began research on the electron transfer reactions of biological and inorganic systems with Professor Harry Gray at the California Institute of Technology. As a graduate student with Gray, he performed the first experiments on measuring the rates for electron transfer at fixed distances in proteins (cytochrome c). This work is widely recognized as beginning the field of biological electron transfer. After earning his Ph.D. degree in 1984, he went to East Lansing, Michigan to take up a faculty appointment at Michigan State University. He joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Professor of Chemistry in 1997.

He is currently the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he is widely recognized as a leading researcher in renewable energy at the molecular level. He studies the basic mechanisms of energy conversion in biology and chemistry with primary focus in recent years on the photogeneration of hydrogen and oxygen from water. The overall water-splitting reaction requires the coupling of multielectron processes to protons, which are energetically uphill, thus requiring a light input. Nocera has pioneered each of these areas of science. Most examples of multielectron photoreactions have originated from his research group in the past decade. This work has relied on the generalization of the concept of two-electron mixed-valency in chemistry. He created the field of proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) at a mechanistic level with the publication of the first ultrafast laser study of an electron transfer through a hydrogen bonded interface. With the frameworks of multielectron chemistry and PCET in place, Nocera has designed hydrogen- and oxygen-producing catalysts. Nocera’s research in energy conversion has been featured on the nationally broadcast television programs, ABC Nightline and PBS NOVA in the US and Explora in Europe and radio shows such as NPR. He developed the pilot that was used to begin the new PBS science program ScienceNow and his PBS NOVA show was nominated for a 2006 Emmy Award. In 2005, he was awarded the Eni-Italgas Prize and in 2007, the Burghausen Prize, for his fundamental contributions to the development of renewable energy at the molecular level.  Nocera has supervised 85 Ph.D. graduate and postdoctoral students, published 225 papers, given over 400 invited talks and 20 named lectureships.

The meeting will be held at the Lincoln Lab Auditorium at 4:00 PM. Refreshments will be served at 3:30 PM.  Registration is in the main lobby.  Foreign national visitors to Lincoln Lab require visit requests.  You are encouraged to pre-register by e-mail to reception@ll.mit.edu; please indicate your citizenship. You will not receive a confirmation of your pre-registration, however, your badge will be ready for you when you arrive at the registration desk.  Please use the Wood Street Gate.  For directions go to http://www.ll.mit.edu   For other information, contact Ed Altshuler, Chairman, at (781) 377-4662, or edward.altshuler@hanscom.af.mil

Anthony J. Midey, Jr.

Boston College

Institute for Scientific Research

Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

phone:  781-377-3556

fax:  781-377-7091

Mail to:

Air Force Research Laboratory


29 Randolph Rd.

Hanscom AFB, MA 01731-3010