Web users worldwide can watch lecture series on 'Strategies for Our Energy Future'

January 22, 2008

"Running on Empty?: Strategies for Our Energy Future" is the theme of the 2008 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, a series of free public lectures that will begin Saturday, Jan. 26. Designed as a free minicourse for the enjoyment and education of the general public, the lectures take place  from 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m. on six consecutive Saturday mornings on the University Park campus. People outside the State College area can view the Frontiers lectures by pointing their Web browser to http://live.libraries.psu.edu/mediasite/catalog/ online. The recommended browser is Internet Explorer, and users will need to have Windows Media Player installed on their computer prior to attempting to watch the live presentation. Windows Media Player is a free media player available for download to both Windows and Mac users at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/11/default.aspx online.

The series consists of six consecutive lectures about current research on various energy options and the environmental consequences of their use. The lectures include:

Jan. 26: "Fueling the Future: A Place for Coal?" by Harold H. Schobert, professor of fuel science at Penn State.  Coal is sometimes regarded as the ultimate "bad guy" in today's energy picture. Is there still a place for coal in the energy future? Or is coal dead? Transportation will continue to rely on liquid fuels for decades, and coal can be a source of these fuels. Learn about the challenges that must be met in understanding the chemistry of coal in developing cost-effective conversion methods and in harnessing coal's carbon as a fuel for the future.

Feb. 2: "Global Warming and Our Future" by Richard Alley, Evan Pugh professor of geosciences at Penn State. The high cost of energy after whale-oil production peaked helped convince Pennsylvanians to drill for petroleum. The success of that first Drake well helped preserve the whales, but is now contributing to global warming. Learn why scientists are confident that the burning of oil, coal and other fossil fuels will have large impacts on the Earth's climate and living things.

Feb. 9: "The Promise of Solar Energy" by John H. Golbeck, professor of biochemistry and biophysics, professor of chemistry at Penn State. Energy from the sun in the form of light and heat often is touted as a solution to the problems of global energy and global climate change. How realistic is this promise and what new technologies are under development? Learn what fraction of the future energy mix today's solar technologies are ready to provide.

Feb. 16: "Biofuels: Tapping Nature's Abundance" by Tom L. Richard, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering and director of the Penn State Institutes for Energy and the Environment. Plants are nature's solar collectors, capturing as much solar energy in a week as humans use in a year. Learn about research that is unlocking the potential of this vast renewable energy resource by increasing the productivity and sustainability of agricultural and forest systems, and by applying the tools of modern molecular biology to access the energy stored in the cell walls of plants.

Feb. 23: "The Renaissance of Nuclear Power: An Energy Source of the Future" by Jack S. Brenizer, Jr., the J. "Lee" Everett professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering and chair of the Nuclear Engineering Program at Penn State. A renewed interest in nuclear power is now occurring, after almost three decades of controversy and an unofficial moratorium on building new plants in the United States. Advanced designs have been developed and approved, new license applications have been filed, and new plants have been ordered. Learn the reasons why this renaissance is happening, the safety and reliability features of the new designs, and why next-generation nuclear energy is more attractive to both U. S. and international energy suppliers.

March 1: "Fuel Cells: Are We There Yet?" by Matthew M. Mench, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Fuel Cell Dynamics and Diagnostics Laboratory at Penn State. The promise of hydrogen fuel cells is highly touted, and there are increasing numbers of working prototypes for automotive, stationary, and portable applications, but mass commercialization still has not arrived. Learn about the real limitations to fuel-cell technology, and what must happen before we all will be able to drive a fuel-cell-powered car to work.

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science are a program of the Penn State Eberly College of Science. The 2008 series is sponsored jointly by the Eberly College of Science and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Financial support is provided by a gift from the Chevron Corp. and by the Penn State Eberly College of Science. For information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Public Information by telephone at (814) 863-0901, by e-mail at science@psu.edu, or click on the Web link at http://www.science.psu.edu/alert/frontiers/ online.

Last Updated July 22, 2015