(Clockwise from back left) Professor of Oceanography
Bill Ullman, Mustafa Yucel, Keith Douglass (doctoral student in
chemistry and biochemistry), Yoana Voynova,
and Emily Maung at the Penn Energy Research
Group’s Solar Energy Conference.
Photo by Andrew Ullman
Three College of Marine and Earth Studies (CMES) doctoral students recently attended the Solar Energy Conference sponsored by the Penn Energy Research Group, a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.
The conference focused on solar energy capture and conversion. It also highlighted new developments in solar panel materials, strategies to increase the efficiency of solar energy capture by those materials, and the challenges of bringing new discoveries in the photovoltaic field to the marketplace.
The event was a valuable opportunity for the members of CMES — oceanography students Yoana Voynova and Mustafa Yucel and marine biosciences student Emily Maung — to learn how researchers at other institutions are working to help the environment and to approach issues related to climate change.
Yucel, who researches sulfur biogeochemistry in the marine environment, was glad to have had the opportunity to attend the event. He said he would like to see even more communication among scientists working in various areas to help understand and preserve natural ecosystems.
Maung said she agrees. Her research focuses on the effects of pollutants on invertebrates.
“It’s really good to know what other people are doing,” she said. “It broadens your perspective and makes you appreciate what other people do.”
The conference brought together scientists, engineers, and business people from a wide range of universities and companies in the mid-Atlantic region and abroad. A number of scientists and students from UD’s Institute for Energy Conversion also attended the meeting, held Feb. 7 in Philadelphia.
Among the day’s presentations was a talk by Michael Graetzel of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland. Graetzel discussed new semiconductors made from a complex random network of materials that have the potential to substantially reduce photovoltaic energy costs.
Other notable presentations included those by Professor Daniel Nocera of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Eric Daniels, vice president for technology at BP Solar in Frederick, Md. Nocera discussed “artificial photosynthesis” as a way to convert solar energy into chemical energy for storage. Nocera suggests that this technology, which does not produce any greenhouse gases, is more efficient for energy storage than present batteries, and is well positioned to meet the energy needs of rural and third world countries without existing electrical grid systems.
Daniels spoke about BP’s business plan for expanding solar energy production in the United States and elsewhere. He indicated that improvements in production capabilities have already reduced the costs per kilowatt of power generation over the last few years and, with increasing capacity, should continue to reduce costs into the future.
For more about the Penn Energy Research Group, visit www.energy.upenn.edu. To learn about CMES, visit www.ocean.udel.edu.